I'm sure "shocked" was the term that came to the minds of many readers of my work when I decided to travel another literary path from my usual style of romance novels with professional wrestling themes.
I decided I needed a change, and created a book with a new topic to which many readers identified, and perhaps find new audiences in the process . What author doesn't want to attract new readers?
My third work in progress, Fifty, is indeed a departure from my usual genre. Though Fifty is another book based on a subject I know well (my own 50th birthday is slightly over nine months away), it appears I may have hit on a strong formula judging from early reviews on Authonomy.
While my first book, The Cruiserweight, and my second work in progress Kerrigan's Legacy were written on topics from my areas of knowledge, Fifty's theme is "Written as fiction, based on real experiences."
How many of us know/knew a Karen Montgomery or Randi Gage during our lifetimes? How many identify with stories such as those outlined in Fifty? It's no secret countless authors write books which are true stories (think biographies or autobiographies) and fiction novels evolving from life experiences or topics which they had knowledge or practical experience on a regular basis (e.g. some of New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline's novels take place in a law firm, reflecting from her own previous vocation as an attorney).
As for some of the recent works I've read, I can include Lorraine Holloway-White's A Sceptical Medium - among her other books - which speak from her expertise as a medium, Stacey Danson telling her story of child abuse in Empty Chairs, George Fripley's years of experience working in and with bureaucracy outlined in You Can't Polish a Turd, and Kristal McKerrington's young adult A Different Life wrestling romance series (which the character of Layla overcame dyslexia, an affliction McKerrington also faced) are just a few examples of "art imitates life" - or in this case, books imitating life.
Whether it's stories or the characters we develop for our books, "imitation of life" factors can be successful when aimed toward the correct reading audiences, are well written, and contain a strong story line or thoroughly researched topic that will hold readers from first page to final chapter.
Most "true life" books, be they actual stories or novels based on true events, appear to sell well on the book market. Self-help books may also fall in this category, as they too either speak from experiences by those interviewed or others who are experts in their respective fields.
If you haven't gotten these types of reading on your shelves, I'd suggest trying at least one. Even if "imitation of life" stories or books aren't your normal genre, there's many quality works out there waiting to be read. Could you be that new audience for which authors aim?