Tuesday, December 16, 2014


What Sells and What Doesn't

Those of you familiar with the television show, Shark Tank, know that it centers around aspiring inventors trying to sell their products to wealthy investors.  The investors watch a demonstration of each invention and decide whether or not they wish to risk their money on the inventor and the product.

Some of the inventions are fascinating and offer interesting glimpses into people's minds. Once in a while the investor "shark" will actually battle over a product that looks as if it has a future. More often than not, the prospective inventor goes away empty handed to search for a new way to finance his/her project.

A Facebook post I recently saw showed some sixteen failed inventions from the show. Some of them were rather strange, to say the least.  Squeeky Knees was rompers for children with squeaky toys in the knees so when the child crawled across the floor, parents could hear him. I guess that was a kind of tracking device?  Pet Paint, and the name says it all, is for pet owners who want to decorate their pets. SquirrelBoss is a device designed to electrocute squirrels who climbed on it to get bait. Of course, aside from being barbaric would electrocute any birds as well creating a "death feeder" for all comers. And then, one of my favorites:  Throx which is a package of socks coming not in pairs, but in threes so if you lost one sock you would have a replacement.

One wonders what kind of thinking leads to such creations. What traumatic event in a person's life would lead to the need to spend hours of time and often money to invent and manufacture something like the above? I too have found my socks disappearing into the Land of Lost Socks, but I never would have considered buying three as a solution. (Now, gloves are another matter, since I seem to have a rather large collection of left hand only gloves, so a set of three with an extra right hand might be a good option for me.)

Writers are inventors as well, but our creations are made of words, easily typed, not so easily chosen, and more often than we care to think about, Shark Tank failures. Trying to find the product that sells, one our readers want to invest in can be a frustrating journey.

Some writers, like the inventors of Throx, write out of a  need to say something, anything that expresses their own personal voices.  Some write as a pure experiment testing theories and ideas to see if they have any merit.  Some write to tell the world of important opinions, information, stories they feel need to be told. Some write to sell, studying the market, assessing its needs and desires and then adjusting content and technique to suit.

I write because I like to tell stories. If the world likes them, so be it. But if the sharks don't bite, at least I've had the pleasure of getting all the words flying around in my head on paper.

Why do we write? Because that's what we need to do.

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