In 2014 Scotland will have a referendum to decide whether or not we’d like to become an independent nation. The democratic process in action; people exercising their free choice and then most of them not getting what they wanted. Then again, it’s a better system than the one they use in Burma or China. However, this blog may not be what it seems. I’m not going to discuss the dilemmas facing an Independent Scotland; rather I’m going to ask for your advice, your democratic input into resolving the dilemmas facing this independent author.
I have three books, but the difference in their sales performance perplexes me. Much of it is self-doubt, that stressful and unpleasant domain of all people who chuck a piece of creativity out into the world for others to judge. Some of it is more technical; to do with cover images, blurb and so on. Some of it is about marketing and trying to hit the right note with readers and reviewers.
The good news is that ‘In Many Ways’, my debut novel, has done very well. Since publishing in late august 2011, I’ve sold nearly 7,000 copies, it’s attracted twenty-seven 5 star reviews (25 in the UK, 2 in the US), and I’ve had lots of nice feedback from readers via Twitter in addition to these reviews. In April 2013 it won a Thriller of The Month award from e-thriller.com. I’m extremely proud of this and grateful for all the positivity.
‘Pandora’s Pitbull’ was published in March 2012 and so far has sold modestly. Less than a thousand copies so far. I’ve only garnered seven 5 star reviews (6 in the UK, 1 in the US). I have come up with a few reasons why might this be and the dilemmas facing me:
1. The cover is putting people off. I used an aggressive, striking image of a pitbull, thinking this would attract attention. Maybe it does, but of the wrong kind? The first big dilemma – should I change it after a year and a half?
2. The title is not quite right? I have been torn by the title since the day I decided to go for it. It comes from a line in the book. Originally, in an early form of the story it was called ‘Dawn of the Ned’. I backed out of this in the end fearing the joke would be lost on non-Scots and it might imply the book was a comedy, which it’s not. Next big dilemma – should I risk changing it?
3. The blurb is not hitting the right note with browsers or prospective buyers.
‘Stark Contrasts’ was published in December 2012 and has done pretty poorly so far in sales terms, and with similar review stats to PP. However, it also won a Thriller of the Month award for May this year on e-thriller. So, why am I struggling to sell this book when it’s in a similar genre to ‘In Many Ways’ and is the same price? My problem here is not with a lack of faith in the technical side. I don’t think the cover is a problem (I might be wrong) and I like the title (I still might be wrong!). The blurb may not be attracting buyers mind you. It just seems less easy to nail down for Stark. Why won’t it sell?
This is where I need your help, your votes, your democratic input.
Should I change the cover and/or title of Pandora’s Pitbull or just stand by it, accept it won’t ever sell that well and move on to writing another book?
Thanks in advance for any advice or opinions given.