Why your stories are significant

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

The next time a boss or client tells you not to worry about whether your writing includes enough stories, I suggest you get him or her a copy of the book Significant Objects. Here’s why.

Back in 2009, American authors Rob Walker  and Joshua Glenn bought a series of random objects thrift stores, yard sales, most of them for less than $4. They then distributed the objects to friends, others writers and artists asking them to write short stories about the objects they were given. Then, they put the objects for sale on Ebay with the story in the description.

Did the people pay more money for them? You bet they did! The first 100 objects — which had cost $120 — sold for $3,612, or a markup of 2,776%.  They even sold a 25 cent plastic banana for $75. (Proceeds were distributed to the contributors, and to nonprofit creative writing organizations.)

The book Significant Objects (pictured above) catalogues the items and the stories. And the website Significant Objects gives more information about the project.

I love the way Walker and Glenn have quantified a fact that most writers understand intuitively: stories work. Stories interest clients and customers and can improve sales. For example, the Springfield, MO.-based chocolate company Askinosie has embraced this philosophy by putting photos and stories of their farmers on the labels of their (admittedly expensive) chocolate bars. The result? A 30-percent increase in customer retention.

Stories sell. Use them.