Today, we have author Juniper Bell visiting with us! She answered my twitter call/plea, and I’m so glad to have her here! You’ll see she has a sense of humor. (And not just because she lives in Alaska. ;)) Also – there’s nothing really for me to add at the end, but I’m fascinated by what you’ll think or have to say!
I’d like to thank Limecello for having me on her blog today. It’s my first time here, and she practically dared me to write something that would offend her and get me banned from her blog. Actually, her exact words were, “please don’t take that as a dare.” That’s a dare, right? Or did I misunderstand?
So I’d better come up with a shocking topic, like the ins and outs of m/m/m/f/m vampire-zombie sex with water balloons. Or something truly offensive, like pairing brown shoes with black pants, or whether dreadlocks work on Caucasians. (I’m fine with both those things, by the way.) Or maybe something really disturbing, something writers hate to discuss in public, the thing we dread, the thing that will give us night terrors and stomach cramps. And that is …
When books tank.
It feels funny to confess that not all of my books are outrageous financial successes. And I hope this topic isn’t TOO offensive. Discussing money always feels weird. Especially in the context of a creative endeavor like writing books. And please don’t think I only care about sales. Far from it. I’m just a working stiff trying to figure out how to make my way in this crazy business.
I have seven books out now, with an eighth book contracted. Some have sold quite well. Others not so much. (It’s all relative, of course. My “quite well” is probably someone else’s worst-selling book. And my “not so much” might look darn good to someone else. I only know my own bottom line.)
The scary part is, I have no clue why some books have outperformed others. Is it quality? Did I simply do a crappy job? I hope not. I aim to put out my best every single time. But I’m no judge. I have to go by reviews, which are no help, since some of my best-reviewed books are the worst sellers. And vice versa.
Is it theme? Nope. I write a lot of ménage. Some do well, some don’t. Publisher? Not in any clear-cut way. Degree of explicitness? I wish – that would be easy to figure out. But no. Cover? Blurb? Annoying heroine? Setting? A glut of that particular genre? Biorhythms? Planetary alignment? To really know why one book is jumping off shelves – or onto Kindles — and another isn’t, I suppose I’d have to question every single person who considered buying the book but didn’t.
Great. Not only is that impossible, it might be hard on my ego.
So then I’m left with the dilemma of figuring out how much sales, or lack thereof, should affect my writing. Should I try to determine what didn’t work, sales-wise, in a certain book, and never repeat it? Or should I just continue writing the stories that come to me, without worrying about how well they do? I want to learn from my experiences, but I also want to make sure I’m learning the right things.
It’s a quandary, and something I never thought about before I got published – mostly because I figured I’d be thrilled if even one person bought one of my books. And I am. Thrilled and grateful. But putting out a book is a lot of work, and not just for me. Editor, line editor, cover designer, publisher, etcetera. I want all that work to count as much as possible.
If you’re a reader, don’t worry about a thing. Just keep buying the books you want to read. (Shameless promo alert. *You can’t go wrong with any of my books, if you ask me.* Okay, that’s over.) But if you have insight to share, bring it on. If you’re a writer, I’d love to know how you handle a release that doesn’t set the world on fire. Do you try to figure out why, or do you just move on?
There you have it, Limecello. The blog topic that dare not speak its name. Not too offensive, right?
Juniper Bell writes erotic romance for Samhain and Ellora’s Cave. She’s best known for her Receptionist series. Her next release is Beautiful Obsession from Ellora’s Cave, which she’s absolutely convinced is going to sell like crazy. You can find her at her website, or on Facebook and Twitter as @AuthorJuniper.