The last two months have been brutal for book sales. The Christmas rush came and went without affecting my bottom line at all. So what is one to do?
The obvious answer is to conform. Follow the trends. Write what is expected. Figure out what your target market is reading and give them more of the same. In other words, stop writing what you write and write what you believe the market will buy. Tailor your product to the wants of the reader. (in case you don’t hear it …. add tone of sarcasm to previous paragraph)
The sad truth is that every time I get an idea for a new story, I realize that it doesn’t fit within any one genre. It’s not just one thing. I could make it fit just one thing but then it wouldn’t be the same story. I’d have to hyper-emphasized one aspect of the story and delete or downplay other aspects to be able to list the book under ‘Romance’ or ‘Young Adult’ or whatever other genre would be most appropriate. Do I really want to do that? Will the story suffer? Will it be as interesting? Sacrifice story for Genre?
There is the rub. The world of INDIE is dominated by Genre fiction. And I realize that I don’t really write that kind of novel.
My goal as a writer isn’t to write the next ‘Twilight’ (or especially 50 Shades … blech!) It is to write something that sticks with the reader long after they have turned the last page. I don’t know if I have even come close to reaching that goal with my previous works but I figure it is a worthwhile goal and I’m not about to give up.
I’m sure there are a number of other Indie writers in the same situation. And if you factor in the frustration of seeing other novels doing much better than your own work, it’s enough to make you hang up the quill for life and take up playing the didgeridoo for tips in some bus station entrance.
And who hasn’t been in this situation? You surf around Amazon and find a book that’s similar to one of yours. The cover is just god awful, looks like it was done by the writer’s grandkids using Microsoft Paint. You click the ‘Look Inside’ feature and the writing itself is beyond unforgivable. (I chanced upon a book the other day with a Grammatical error in the title / a lost dog book called “Loosing Billy” – what is LOOSING?) And it’s doing WAY better than your book. In the middle thousands for sales vs. your book that has been hovering around the MILLION mark for months.
Factor in the phenomenal number of people who are content to read the same old thing time and again – this is what psychologists clinically refer to as “Crazy Making.” I ask you, how many ‘Vampires in Love’ books could you possibly read, one after another? Not to mention the prediliction fiction. Amazing the depths to which some writers have sunk. So what is a writer to do?
I say just give up. Don’t give up writing. Just give up the idea that it is going to sell. The moment a writer begins to write for the money, the moment he begins to write to get on that bestseller list on Amazon is the moment he begins to churn out derivative fluff. And I’ll be damned if I’ll go that route.
That’s not to say that if you get an idea and it falls into a genre that there is anything wrong with writing it. No problem. But I’d rather suffer a Columbian necktie than kill off one of my stories just because it doesn’t fit into the expectations of today’s reading public.
And they are a fickle bunch. You might just spend six months to a year polishing your great Vampire romance novel just to find that the genre has finally suffered a great and overdue ‘Stake through its dangling participle heart’ death and now you can’t give away one of your books. Meanwhile, the stuff you were writing previously has hit and you have fallen out of favor because you don’t have anything new to offer.
So just give up on the money and the fame and the recognition and the Amazon bestseller standing. Just write. And be happy.
David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.