The problem with being an author is that you can never predict what will be successful. Or so I’ve come to learn rather jarringly, over the last couple of weeks. Of course, I’ve had books that weren’t very successful, before now. But the thing about the unsuccessful books is: I always just assumed it was because I’m not a very good writer. Or because no one knows who I am. Or because I’m a complete and utter failure.
And then came Sheltered.
I don’t think it’s better written than any of my other books. When I read over it, it’s noticeably my style – whatever that may be. And I didn’t promote it more than other books, or have a suddenly bigger presence when it released. It’s not the magical tenth book that mystically makes your backlist pay off.
And yet it’s had more attention, more discussion, more adds on Goodreads and more reviews at EC than nearly all of my other books. The only two that exceed it are Past Pleasures (because it was free at ARE for a week, about a year ago) and Control (I think because it had the same title as a book that won a big award the same week as its release).
So there’s always been reasons, before, for the small successes of my books. Outside reasons, that have nothing to do with me. But Sheltered doesn’t even have that. I don’t know what it has. I’ve spent the last week and a half in a daze, trying to fathom a market I thought I already knew.
And here’s what I think I might have worked out:
1. Readers really, really, really like virgin heroines and punk heroes. REALLY. And though I knew this before, I don’t think I fully processed the idea that if I wrote a virgin heroine and a punk hero, people would want to buy my book, too. I still somehow thought that I’m just a nobody, and that no one would care.
2. Word of mouth is everything. Again, this is something I knew. But still – seeing it in action when applied to my book is something else altogether. I never thought one of my books would be talked about in the way I’ve seen this one talked about – though don’t get me wrong. There’s not been discussion up and down the internet. It’s just a small amount that’s big to me.
3. A big name author extending a hand (and a review) to a small name author can mean a lot. Which is why I’m now going to thank Katie Reus for being her gracious, thoughtful, wonderful self.
And that’s it. That’s all I know. I’m not sure what to take from this – is publishing just a crapshoot? Or is it a confluence of things that help make a book a (small) success? Maybe it’s just everything all together, somehow – or maybe I’m just dreaming all of this up. Could be that I’ve sold about three copies, who knows?
But either way, it’s been a very, very good, and very heartening week and a half. And if I can share any measure or any idea as to how this happens with everyone else, I will do. Katie Reus paid it forward to me. I’m going to pay it forward to anyone who will listen.
P.S. If you’d like to try a bit of virgin heroine and sexy punk hero for yourself, you can get Sheltered here:
Or on the Kindle: