Tuesday 15th March 2016
It’s been ages since I posted. I haven’t forgotten about writing and in fact it’s been at the top of my mind. But things have changed and my downloads of Screw Friendship have gone from a steady trickle to practically zero. I’m afraid I have to bite the genre bullet. I’m just not sure yet which bullet to bite.
The Frank Friendship series doesn’t follow any set genre. I say the books are mysteries, and they are, but not murder mysteries and ironically, mystery is probably one of the worst categories to have chosen. Because many of my Amazon also-boughts are so-called Cozy Mysteries. I can’t think of an audience less able to handle the style and subject matter. Frank is not for readers who like to escape into a squeaky clean Cozy world.
The no-genre bit wasn’t so bad until Amazon decided the keyword “free” was misleading and forced everybody who was using it (including me) to remove it. My downloads (which had been around 50 to 70 per day) nosedived and currently they’re lucky to exceed four or five per day. Amazon follow-on sales (unlike the Awesome Kobo) are rubbish. I didn’t have enough reviews or critical mass to survive a plummet like that.
And, yes, I know Amazon is not a marketing platform; it’s a sales platform and you have to market your book. My problem is, who exactly is my target readership?
If I’m going to find a readership (or if a readership is going to find me), I just have to write in a genre (i.e. make my books like some other author’s). I’ve experimented with various styles and have (way too many) ideas. I’ve written a good chunk of a new police procedural crime novel set in the near future (like JD Robb’s massively popular In Death series), but I’ve probably gone too far off-piste to keep mainstream readers with me, so will have to pull that back in.
If you’ve loved the Frank Friendship books and are exasperated waiting for the next one, I do apologise. But when I explain that, despite over 5,000 free downloads, my total sales last year amounted to £468, I hope you’ll appreciate just how few readers are picking the books up. (To put this in context, editing costs alone for Screw Friendship came to £834.)
Fortunately, I don’t have to live off the books, or I’d be another Catman. But, dammit, when I put so much effort into the writing, I want people to read my work.
I’m determined to finish the Frank Friendship series but my priority has to be finding readers. There will, though be further books from me. The long silence doesn’t mean I’ve given up. I just want to avoid making another dumb marketing mistake.
Thoughts about genre? What would you like to see me write?
I could use your help. Email me or leave a note in the comments.
What’s with the Them+Us cover shot? As part of my research into one of my many ideas, I picked up a couple of non-fiction titles by Danny Vendramini. Mr Vendramini is another author who hasn’t captured readers’ imagination despite a prodigious effort. I’ve therefore added my very quiet voice to his reviews in the hope more readers will find and enjoy his fascinating theories.