Thursday, November 09, 2017

The Confession No Author Likes to Make

Texas author Robert Flynn once said to me that having a book out of print is like having a child that you never see (this was long before digital publishing kept books in print forever). I think that’s sort of how many authors feel about their books—they’re children we’ve sent out in the world to make their way, with our help via marketing.. And when they don’t find success, you grieve for them.

My latest novel, Pigface and the Perfect Dog, isn’t finding the love that I thought it would. I worked really hard to promote this book in advance—guest blogs all over the place, a Facebook campaign, etc. Big launch party, which was lots of fun and accounted for a good portion of the sales to date. It’s been out two months and has one review each on Amazon and Goodreads. Its sales are nothing to brag about, although people who’ve read it tell me they really enjoyed it. No, I’m not whining, nor am I asking you to rush out, read it, and review. I’m trying to analyze why it isn’t doing as well as some of my other books.

Pigface is second in a series, so it’s not the difficulty of engaging readers in a new series. The first book, The Perfect Coed, did quite well, thank you. And I really like the cover of Pigface, especially the display type. It has a cute puppy on the cover, and animals supposedly always attract readers. So there’s a double boost—a dog in the title and a dog on the cover.

I’ve concluded the title is misleading. If I had to categorize Pigface, I’d call it a dark cozy. It still fits the cozy genre pretty much, though one review pointed out that the language is a tad stronger than most cozies. There’s no gruesome violence, though there is an on-scene non-fatal shooting, and there are one or two quick glimpses into a personal relationship before the bedroom door closes. Still, it’s much more cozy than thriller.

I thought the title was so clever when it came to me one day like a bolt out of the blue. One of the bad guys, unknown to him, earns the nickname Pigface, and dogs, two of them, are prominent in the story. The title also fit in with the use of the word “perfect,” established in the first book, so it gave the series some continuity. But I fear that people think it’s a kid’s book. The Pigface term is misleading and may conjure up everything from Animal Farm to Babe. It apparently doesn’t conjure up visions of a mystery about open-carry protestors and darker matters. My bad.

Titles are hard. I’ve always thought they came to you, as this one did, unexpectedly, sort of an instinct thing, and then you better, by gosh, stick with it. Apparently, I need more research. There are several online sites with good, solid advice on picking a title, with many warning it’s the most important marketing decision you make. Oh gosh! It’s too late to change the title, although I did read about an author whose book title was Astro-Logical Love; she did a bit of editing and changed the title to How to Satisfy a Woman Every Time. Sales tripled. I think this is a case where I say, “Oh well,” and plow ahead, marketing as I can. Next time I’ll be more thoughtful about a title.


Mama Hen said...

It is important to continually review why/not our books are/not reaching the audience we thought it would. Good for you for doing that, and thank you for the honesty. It sometimes seems that successful people do everything right, because they never share their struggles. I understand why that's the case, but it can be discouraging for others of us who wonder why we can't achieve that same perfection. So, thanks.

Judy Alter said...

Thanks. You're what I need--a Mama Hen to watch over me.