A food analogy. Always a good place to start:
Join Me for Pizza
Imagine I invited you over for my amazing homemade pizza. Everything from scratch. You are, of course, delighted.
You’ve mentioned my pizza to a couple friends and wonder if they might come along. I’m feeling expansive, so why not?
By 4:30 Saturday, it’s a disaster. The sauce isn’t thick enough. The toppings aren’t grilled properly. The crust doesn’t rise enough.
Which of these options makes the most sense to you?
- Throw it away and start again from scratch. You’ll wait.
- Call you up and cancel. Maybe I’ll try again someday. (Maybe not. It’s a lot of work and after this debacle, it’s all a bit much.)
- Serve it with a smile, knowing you’ll enjoy it far more than I feel it deserves and that if you have feedback, it’ll be well-intentioned and honest, but kind and thoughtful.
I’m going to proceed under the assumption you chose the last option. (If you chose another option, please please share your reasons in the comments. I would find it enormously helpful.)
Once More, With Money
What if you paid money for that pizza?
The assumption is that if you pay for something you expect a certain level of quality.
This is true.
And the level of quality is determined far more by the expectations set than by the fact that you paid or even how much you paid. A quick burger* on Main Street at Disneyland will cost three times as much as one down at the local burger joint, but do you expect it to be measurably better?
A burger at a gastropub raises your expectations (again, despite the price, high or low.)
If you order ground sirloin on a toasted brioche with aioli and radish sprouts, it’s got some livin’ up to do.
The exchange of money for a product sets certain expectations—but these are a baseline, a meeting-the-threshold, not Michelin-star expectations.
Yet Again, With Personality
That brioche burger? Some folks won’t see it as any better than the one down at the local burger joint (I don’t mean a mega-chain, but the one-off run by a family that’s lived in town forever.)
Others know the difference, even appreciate it, but they can enjoy the pub burger and the fancy shmancy equally, depending on circumstances.
Not everyone demands the finest quality burger every time they eat. In fact, most don’t.
Burgers = Books
I hope you saw that coming.
Every book I write is better than the last. Some, I know, are local-burger-joint quality. A few are gastropub level. I aspire to brioche and aioli because I really care what I serve you. Not there yet, I don’t think, but it’s always on my radar.
I know you, though. You’ll love the personal touches I put on that ground sirloin brioche and aioli when I serve it, but in the meantime, you just love
burgers books so much that regardless of whether they’re 99¢ or $12 you’re just glad you get to sit at my table once in a while.
That’s why I love you, dear reader; that’s why, because you’re my tribe.