I’ve written two books. Good books, I think. Maybe not great, but they don’t have to be. I mean, how many truly great books are there, anyway? William Saroyan once said: “I used to throw things out, saying ‘This isn’t great.’ It didn’t occur to me that it didn’t have to be great.”
Yet my books are not being read. Sure, I’ve sold a handful of paperbacks. Literally. And they’ve been read. But I’ve given away over 500 digital copies – and none of them have been looked at! I know this as fact because Kindle Direct Publishing generates a report that allows an author to view how many pages have been read at any given time. I can readily see, at any given time, that not a single page of either of my books is being read. Not for months, years even.
I’ve addressed this tribulation on a few occasions. (Check out my posts But Wait! There’s More!, Fast Reads, and Indie or Not? if your so inclined.) My conclusion: I’ve been marketing my work to the wrong audience!
(I refuse to conclude, at this time, that I’m not being read because my writing is less than good. How can there be negative opinions about my novels if they’re not being read, as I noted above?)
Let’s begin with my writing. As a reader, I prefer a tale that unfolds slowly, prose that saunters down a path rich with setting, character, and dialogue; writing that leaves you with the same satisfaction you get from a savory meal. Just as there’s comfort food, there’s comfort reading, you might say. It’s a writing style I refer to as “old school.” As an author, I aim to create the very same reading experience I enjoy.
In regards to audience, the preferences of readers are as diverse as the number of authors out there, which, at times, seems infinitesimal. But, I’ve found readers can be generalized into two distinct (though sometimes overlapping) types, based on how they shop for books.
On one hand, there’s the point-and-clickers; those who like to make purchases via the internet from the comfort of their home. These folk are most likely to enjoy books with a Kindle or other e-reader. They seem to prefer writing that gets them in, out, and on to the next digital experience as quickly as possible.
On the other hand, there are the “old school” shoppers – they love book stores, especially smaller, independent sellers. They love wandering aisles, slowly perusing shelves, hunting for just the right read. They like the feel of a book in their hands, its weight; they relish the smell of paper and ink. These folk are most likely to attend a book reading or panel discussion. They recognize that meeting an author in person is a meaningful part of the writer-reader dynamic. This, I’ve realized, is my target audience.
Such, then, is the foundation of my new plan, made up of 4 parts:
1.) Republish my current books with IngramSpark. This will make my writing more accessible to the brick-and-mortar shoppers worldwide. I’ll also be able to offer my novels in hardcover, which, being old school, I’m pretty excited about.
2.) Form relationships with local, independent booksellers. There are some wonderful book shops in and around Seattle, and they welcome authors with genuine enthusiasm and support. (As long as the author doesn’t publish with the Amazon company CreateSpace!)
3.) Connect with readers through those booksellers with readings or other in-store appearances, and by meeting local book clubs.
4.) Publish next book, and repeat.
Stay tuned to see how this plan pans out.