My bookshelf on Amazon is like the gourmet cheese section of the grocery store. It’s full of exotic offerings that elicit strange looks and head scratches from most people. The small cross-section of the population that ADORES imported cheeses with unpronounceable names? They seek me out. Everyone else? Not so much.
When readers, er, shoppers do stumble upon my wares, the conversation goes something like this (at least in my head):
Me: Won’t you try my port-laced Stilton? How about a slice of cloth-wrapped Nuskasse?
Shopper: Never heard of that stuff.
Me: Both are quite delicious, I assure you. Buy some?
Shopper: Nah, I’m here for the cheddar. It’s on sale. 99 cents a pound.
Me: Then let me give you a free sample.
Shopper: Okay. I’ll take a small piece and try it later.
Me: But I have Table Water crackers and fig jam and Marcona almonds. I can give you a sample of those, too, They pair well together. Please try the Nuskasse today, won’t you? It’s handmade in Switzerland with milk from cows that graze on Alpine grass.
Me: Fine. I’ll give you the WHOLE block free.
Shopper: I’ll take it. I guess…
Shopper: Oh. My. God. This cheese is spectacular! Why didn’t you tell me it was so good? I may come back for more later.
Most of the people who try my books love or at least like them, around 80 to 90%. Can’t please everyone of course, but I’ve gathered fans along the way. Problem is, I’ve spent waaay too much time hand-wrapping Nuskasse and not enough time cranking out brick after brick of plastic-wrapped cheddar. Unique books sell, but in small quantities. Books with basic plots, characters and themes sell in larger quantities (even the poorly written ones). And this kills me. But it’s a fact, and the sooner I face it, the greater chance I’ll have at success. That’s why I’ll probably crowdsource the idea for my next book. Is this a best-seller guarantee? Of course not. Will it increase the number of shoppers that flock to my shelf? I hope so.
Universal Forces is a polarizing book–a fresh take on Romeo and Juliet that pits the House of Religion against the House of Science. Despite a really cool twist on an old story, UF never took off. Why? Here’s what I think: atheists see the story as “too religious,” and the devout see the story as “anti-religious.” And they’re both right. Which means the book is for free-thinking humanists open to the concept of spirituality, but not necessarily religion, who like a dash of science, suspense and romance in their young adult stories. Er, yeah.
When I first wrote UF, my agent at the time said it was “fairly brilliant.” A best-selling author (who briefly mentored me) told me my beginning chapter was “thoroughly alive and engaging.” A recent reader called it “a great ride.” It’s a good book.
Still not convinced? How about I give you the whole block, er, book for free? Right now, you can download it from Story Cartel at no charge (my FINAL offer of February) until the end of March (2015). If you haven’t been to Story Cartel yet, give it a try – it’s a pretty cool site for writers and readers alike.
How about you, dear reader? Are you the cheddar type? Or do you dig Nuskasse?