They’re Selling What???

I feel like hitting my head against the wall. Success is relevant, and I know that. I sell more books than most and a whole lot less than the big names. But there are times when I read something that another author has posted and something inside of me snaps. That happened today.

Someone had asked how do we get a book noticed?

That’s the million dollar question. If we knew, we’d all be doing it.  But one author’s reply was to write a really great book. True. But then she went on tmoneyo say how many books she was selling. The implication was that she writes really great books. Really? The author world is rather small, but I don’t know everyone, so I checked out several of her books. She had a free one, so I downloaded it. I’ll skim it. If it looks good, I might read it. But based on her ranking on the books I checked, I don’t believe her when she said how many she sold per month.

But she does write really steamy-hot books sent in Europe, with aristocrats and princes as the heroes. I dare anyone to name more than ten princes in all of Europe and if you can’t remember their frog princenames, can you remember the country? But marrying a prince is still some sort of romantic dream from those books that were read to us as children. And her princes apparently can up the temperature in a pool to almost boiling. And according to the reviews, the sex scenes are worth reading.

Does that mean writing a good book has little to do with sales? Well, writing hot sex scenes apparently has a whole lot to do with sales. But we all know that sex sells!

So there’s my problem. Many of my books don’t even contain an actual sex scene. A few fail to close the bedroom door. We know what they are doing, but it’s not blatant. Several others tip the scale to a moderately sexy scene where nothing is hidden and the reader knows exactly what is happening.

Writing a great book has very little to do with sales. Some of the top sellers are so poorly written they should have never gotten off the ground, but most of them contain some type of kinky or perverted sex act or fantasy. Gore also sells. As people, we haven’t progressed much from the Romans who went to the Coliseum to watch the criminals fight the lions. So if you add them together, you get a sexy romantic suspense? Apparently. And don’t forget to add in a dash of humor. Maybe I should cash in my chips now, because I can’t imagine ever writing such stuff.

Maybe I don’t write for the masses, and maybe that’s why I don’t sell more than I do. One of my pre-publication readers recently made a dollycomment to me that my books require intelligence to read. No, no, no, not me! I don’t use fifty dollars words when the nickel one works just fine and you don’t have to know the obscure meaning of some noun to understand what I write. My reader agreed but went on to say that my writing was different and that I assume my readers have  a certain amount of innate intelligence. And if I want to write a super seller, I’d better start assuming my readers are stupid.

That’s not going to happen. I’ll toss in towel before I do that. There are plenty of people out there who will enjoy my stories and if they happen to be innately intelligent, good for them!

 

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20 Responses to They’re Selling What???

  1. Shirley Wine says:

    Bravo E.

    I couldn’t have put it better myself.
    Recently we have been asked to vote for the best Indie books published last year … so when the list came out I browsed through the list eager to see what readers considered the best Indie books of the year. Well I can tell you there was only one in the 50 that I would read, Beside each book was a reviewers comment . #50 started off as sick and twisted and a graphic horror novel you can’t put down and they went downhill from there.
    Like you I have good months for sales and bad months, but I have a loyal band of readers, but if I have to write solely about sex and horrific story lines to hit the big time then I’d prefer to throw in the towel.

    Like

    • E. Ayers says:

      Shirley, please don’t ever change. Good literature is worth it’s weight in gold. I wish more people would stand up and say something. Are we back to the silent majority? Why must people be like sheep? Are they reading what they are told to read because that’s what others are reading?

      Like

  2. woolfcindy says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head in your comment to Shirley. People read what is popular because it’s popular. Then because they are reading it, it becomes more popular. Hence the 50 Shades phenomenon. I tried to read that book, I couldn’t get past the first three chapters. It was poorly written, edited and boring to boot. Your books are not that way. A Rancher’s Woman is a wonderful book. Thoughtful and very well written. Please don’t change and don’t stop writing. There are those of us who appreciate a well written and edited book.

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    • E. Ayers says:

      Thanks, Cindy.

      There was a time that we all assumed that the big NY publishers produced quality books.They produce whatever will sell to the masses with the least amount of effort. Some of the best books today are indie produced, but finding them is like looking for a needle in the haystack.

      I had the same problem with 50 Shades, and I didn’t like the subject matter. I’m not a prude. I’ve read some very HOT books written by friends in this business. They were 100 times better than 50 Shades.

      In fact, some of the best books I’ve read are not big sellers. That’s a shame. We’re right back to good literature and it’s going unnoticed!

      Like

  3. melissakeir says:

    It seems as well that each promotion gimmick or site (bookbub) is quickly copied and then saturated so that nothing like that works. It becomes very frustrating.

    I wish I knew the answer. I’d love to be a best selling author… but until then, I will keep being the writer I am and hope that more people find me. 🙂 I am the kind who will follow you home and feed your plants, care for your animals and just be nice!

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  4. I’m with you. I write what I like or want to read. I have learned to write love scenes and according to my editor, I do them well, but I only sprinkle a few in among the action and everyday historical scenes. The few readers I have like the realism of my historicals, but sales for all of my books are flat. I’ve tried different types of promo, some free, some for a fee, but nothing seems to have made a difference, other than a handful of sales at a time.

    Some will tell you the answer is to just keep writing and publishing to build up a following, but I already have a decent backlist going back to 2009. All of the books are still available and I’ve tied in some of my newer e-books to my older novels.

    I’ve decided to write a few books in a different genre to see if that makes a difference, but if it doesn’t, I’ll go back to writing what I love whether it sells or not.

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    • E. Ayers says:

      I can’t write what I won’t read.

      I can’t force a love scene. It either fits or it doesn’t. And it all depends on the characters. I think there’s been an assumption lately that all people will jump into bed no matter what. I think that is so very wrong. It didn’t happen through history and it’s not as wide spread as some might think today. Historically, virginity was highly protected and very important.

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  5. leighmorgan1 says:

    Who decides what a really well written book is? The reviewers who seem to review established names and known quantities, thus perpetuating their sales? The reader who finds easy access to known authors? I think the writing does have to be solid. It has to be intelligent. It has to be compelling no matter what genre or what heat level within that genre. There are plenty of books that manage to do all of that and aren’t best sellers. Writing a good-great-solid book isn’t enough. Exposure and opportunity have to be part of the mix and are part of it. If you don’t get exposure, then you can’t reach your audience, it is that simple. Good writing, yes, that’s a must. Exposure to your target audience is as important, so is the opportunity to reach readers and have your work shine.

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  6. Judy Baker says:

    I agree. I can’t read or write what sales when it comes to using graphic sex and words that I don’t even say out loud. So, I keep plugging alone, writing my stories. I do appreciate readers that take the time to review our books.

    Like

    • E. Ayers says:

      If readers only knew how much we appreciate good reviews!

      And I agree about “those” words. We have words we say and words we don’t, and what one will say another won’t. Don’t ever make me use a word or force my characters to do something that they wouldn’t do.

      If my books languish because my characters won’t/don’t do certain things…well, I figure there are plenty of readers who probably feel the same way.

      OTOH, I have wonderful friends who write really hot stuff and they have plenty who buy their books. Those authors would have a terrible time writing a romance without a good sexy scene in it. We have a right to choose what we read and write!

      I have male friends who are gay. That doesn’t mean I want to read male on male romance. But I will defend the authors who write it! I also know I couldn’t write under any circumstances.

      So I write what I write, and I will continue to write what I write. I’ve had wonderful reviews and I’m so thankful for each one of them. I just wish I had a magic formula to reach my target audience!

      Like

  7. stephaniequeen says:

    Interesting take on what makes a book popular, E. And I don’t think you should change a thing about your writing!

    So what’s with the pic of the goat?

    Like

    • E. Ayers says:

      Thanks, Stephanie.

      That little dolly sheep just represents those masses that will go wherever the rest go. If you get part of the herd moving in one direction, they all follow. Readers can be a lot like that. They read whatever everyone else is reading.

      Like

  8. Just keep writing from the heart, E. It’s what you do best.

    Janice~

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    • E. Ayers says:

      Thanks, Janice. I think that’s what most of us do.

      I envy those authors who can see that something is popular so they will write it, and many are very successful doing it. Alas, it’s not me. My characters have to develop into “people” that are almost real, and the same goes for my story lines. Realism is very much a part of what I write.

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  9. What’s “out there” amazes me. Some good books, but I think many more are not so good. I can’t read something riddled with editing errors…and some authors should be careful about their blurbs and excerpts. If I can’t get past these without seeing errors, I’m not buying the book.
    Sex sells, but books have to be GOOD, quality material, too. Books that leave the bedroom door closed have a wide audience. But a vast number of readers want to be in the bedroom with the H/H and view everything.

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    • E. Ayers says:

      Probably anyone over the age of fourteen knows where the body parts go. Please give me more than that if the door remains open! And yes, there are those who can write wonderfully hot stories. And obviously, there are plenty of readers for those stories. The hotter they are – the more they sell.

      But I’ve also read books where the door is closed so tightly that it appears that the heroine got pregnant from holding the hero’s hand. I actually went back and reread about two chapters trying to figure out when she got pregnant. Hmm… It had to have been from holding hands.

      As for editing, I’ll forgive a certain amount. We pay editors and cross our fingers they’ve done a good job. I’ve discovered not all my editors have been super wonderful. But if I have to stop on every page and reread something to have it make sense…I don’t have time for that, either.

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  10. I too wanted to add my agreement to all of the above statements. I don’t write hot sex scenes, mostly because; at some point when my grandchildren pick up one of my books; I don’t want them to think different about Grandma. I write stories that my parents if they were still alive, or my children, grandchildren, or friends would be able to give to a friend without embarrassment. I guess what I’m saying . . . I feel the need to reflect the values my family taught me and those I passed on to my children, in the books I write. I think there is a market for my style of writing, along with the sexy or horror. It is more difficult to sell the story that is not sensational. It makes sense to say this is normal, since most movies and TV shows portray stories, which contain these themes. I love the Hallmark channel.

    “As for editing, I’ll forgive a certain amount. We pay editors and cross our fingers they’ve done a good job. I’ve discovered not all my editors have been super wonderful.”

    I agree with this statement as well. I too paid an editor and have found and been told about grammar errors in my novel. Grammar is not my forte, so you do trust your editor to find the errors and help you fix what is wrong. If you only read to be able to do “gotcha,” you might miss an excellent story.

    Thank you E. Ayers for your comments. It is refreshing to know there are writers who will state what many of us are thinking.

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    • E. Ayers says:

      Hi, Katheryn. Thanks for stopping by!

      Katheryn is the name of my newest heroine in my River City novels, the newest is to release the end of this month. She goes by the name Ryn.

      I think there is a huge market for the books that aren’t erotic. I think that should be my next blog topic!
      🙂

      Like

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