WHAT DO YOU THINK?

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that a few weeks ago, I went to Sleuthfest up in Fort Lauderdale. Deerfield Beach, actually. While I was there, I connected with an agent and two publishers, each of which wanted to see a sample of the work that I pitched to them. I know, I know, these agents and publishers all say that while they’re at these conventions, then they go back to New York and send out the form-rejection emails the minute they walk in their office.

This was a little different, though. Not because I really believe that they were so enraptured by my pitch, but because I pitched a different novel to each one of them.

I’ve got these three noir novels, all set in Key West, and they’re all pretty much ready to go. I’d really like the three-book set to be picked up, but I know I’m dreaming. It’s not a trilogy in the usual sense, in that there’s no overall story arc through all three books, but several secondary characters and locales pop up in all three, lending an underlying continuity to it. They span 20 years, from 1991-2011, and I’m currently working on a fourth that’s set around the Millennium.

Now, here’s my problem. If even one of them, especially Akashic Books, picks me up, then I’ll go for it. (I say especially Akashic because they have some great books and they specialize in the noir subgenre, which is where I do all my writing) So it’ll be two years probably before the book comes out. Okay, I get it. I’m just not sure I want to wait four more years for the other two, which will sit around gathering dust all that time. The siren of the digital world is calling me. And I feel my resistance, which has been high for years, is now withering.

Yes, I’ve read all the Konrath-Hocking-Eisler stories and I know who’s tearing up the digital bestseller lists. It’s pretty persuasive stuff, you know? Get your novel formatted, edited, and with a good cover, and you’re up on Kindle within a couple of weeks, selling books. Then, as the script goes, head for the blogs, shout it from your website, get on Facebook and Goodreads, get a few decent reviews, and before you can say “$2.99”, you’ll be selling 1000 books a month.

At least, that’s how it appears to go for the majority of the authors I read about on the Kindle Boards and elsewhere. Really. A lot of these authors have published their sales figures, and most of them started in 2009 or 2010, and now they’re selling thousands of books. Some of them even say they haven’t done much promotion: “just an interview on a blog or two and not much else”, one said. Another one went from zero to 1000 books a day in three weeks! The room is spinning.

Okay, I know these are the exceptions. Trouble is, I’m way down there in the “rule” territory. I’ve got my self-published short story collection, Bloodstains On The Wall, up on Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, priced at 99¢ and it’s going nowhere. My novel, The Take, was put up by my publisher and priced by them as well (at $4.99), so I’m not privy to the sales figures, but I can easily say it’s also nowhere. This is after months of working all day, every day, on blogs, getting reviews, Facebook, etc, etc.

I’m 100% positive the reason it’s not selling has nothing to do with the writing. I mean, those who have read them have liked them, and I’m not talking about friends and family, either. I mean, they can’t say the writing isn’t any good when nobody’s read it, right? No, I believe they’re not selling because I haven’t yet snapped to the promotional tricks the successful authors are using to break out of the pack.

Another big difference between me and all of them is genre. In fact, come to think of it, this may be the real reason. For the most part, they’re all writing the Sci-Fi, Fantasy-Dragons, YA, Vampire-Zombie, Paranormal Romance kind of stuff that kids with Kindles want to read. I’m doing noir. Can’t you hear them now? “Noir? Noir? What’s that?”

Well, I’m still tempted. If these three novel submissions don’t pan out, I’m putting all three up on Kindle at once. I mean, selling a few copies digitally is better than selling no copies while waiting for the “gatekeepers” to let me in. Isn’t it?

Or is it?

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