Trying to decide how much whining is fair here! lol Prepare for a little moaning.
It would be nice to say I don't mind when a new book does a nosedive, as my latest did. I put a lot of work into each book. I believe in them all. In the case of the latest book, I love a lot of its features, how it entwines literature with the western, a heroine who is insecure about herself and her work. It has adventure, Arizona, a love story, and a strong, interesting but essentially sacrificial hero, a man with enough self-education to see himself as a paladin.
When a book like that fails to connect, it is painful and even teary. If you write, you know, it's not about the money. It's about acceptance. It has helped in this case where some of the readers have contacted me to tell me they love it. That they did get who this hero and heroine were and loved them. Still, there is no denying that sales matter if the writer hopes for the kind of rankings that keep the book visible. There are probably assorted reasons why it hasn't had the needed sales. I've thought of a few.
When some writers bring out a book, they expect it to do well. They have a sizable fan base and a street team to help promote. This can be true of major writers in large corporate publishing houses but also for some indie writers. Because of this kind of support, those writers also get a lot of reviews right away. It's not as though this all happens by accident. It takes linking up with readers who want what the writer creates. It also takes putting time into building groups. Although I do have some friends, a mailing list, an author page at Facebook, even at Pinterest, I haven't really developed a group or street team. That might be the problem or...
It could be the cover simply didn't connect with readers; but I feel this cover speaks to the book, and it's not like it can be substantially changed. The hero and heroine are depicted with their doubts and the challenges they both face. The background suits the high country of Arizona where much of the story takes place.
For a reason I can't explain, the Arizona historicals have never done as well as the Oregon ones. To me, all my books offer the same qualities. If someone likes one, they would probably like another (including the contemporaries). Except, it hasn't worked out that way. Some locations are more popular than others, but I have to write mine where I know and love. Arizona is one of those places.
I did minimal promoting for Bound for the Hills, no ads-- yet anyway, and maybe it suffered for it-- maybe nothing would have helped. Truthfully, I haven't quite known where to promote it if I wanted to do so. I belong to several historical groups where people promote books, but this one isn't a good fit for any of them. In one, what is beloved are mail order brides. In another, it's straight westerns, and another more historic novels than historic romance novels.
Then again, it could be its historical period. I can't even come up with a word to define 1905 in America. It was a time of transition. The Indian wars were behind Americans. The Old West was still there but changing fast. Railroads, telegraphs, telephones, the age of technology was just slowly getting a toehold. Can we call a time period transitional? Guess we could, but nobody would know what it meant.
Recently I asked in one of the writer groups if they had a name for the early 1900s. Nobody really did. The Victorian era, which officially ended with Queen Victoria's death, worked for the United States because of what it depicted in terms of dress, behavior, cultural expectations. After 1901, supposedly came the Edwardian era. That would mean nothing to most Americans-- including the characters in my book. Some say early 1900s was the Gilded Age (might work for a book set in a big city but the backwoods of Arizona? not so much!). Anyway I came up with no tag that suited it.
It might just have been a bad time to bring out a book near to Easter, spring break at least up here, or maybe a blockbuster came out the same time. Maybe just a lot of books. Bound for the Hills is a particularly long novel, and that might work against it with some readers...
You can probably tell that I have no idea. This though is one reason I recommend new writers (or any writers) not put a lot of money into getting their book out (unless maybe they do have that street team and a fan base eager for each book). It's a lot easier to have one not do well if the writer doesn't also have thousands of dollars into it. Believe me, even with all that money, if a book doesn't hit the current zeitgeist, reader expectations, it's going down.
I could ignore the negative parts of my writing experience, not tell readers here that some books just don't do well, and it's sometimes very depressing for the author when they put a lot of work into a book and that happens. The truth is the rose does have a thorn. When you bring books out, there is a possible downside.
However, upward and onward is my attitude. For those of
you who do not write, it might surprise
you that even before bringing out any of my books, my mind will have gone beyond into planning the next. I think this happens because the last steps, with a book, are always about editing-- the physical work of anal word-for-word edits, but the eye to the sky is transitioning to new characters and their problems. Editing is mental and physical. Creating is emotional and spiritual.
I think the life of an artist, which I consider most writing to be (if it doesn't follow formulas) is always... 'Yeah, I just finished that but what is on the other side of that door!' That's particularly beneficial when a book doesn't do well.
More on this with the next blog--