My latest book and first Western novel, 'Brings The Lightning', was published a week ago today.
I honestly didn't know what to expect, and neither did my publisher, because of three factors:
- The Western market has been moribund for many years, abandoned by most of the bigger publishers and invaded by romance and erotica books that have little or nothing (besides their setting) to do with authentic Westerns. It's difficult to judge the level of interest in a revival of the 'classic' Western such as 'Brings The Lightning'.
- We weren't sure whether my readers (who are accustomed to this blog, as well as science fiction novels from me) would be interested in a Western, and prepared to invest their money in one.
- We weren't sure how best to promote the novel to an audience interested in Westerns. That was, and remains, a steep learning curve for us.
Despite those difficulties, the book has done moderately well. It's sold close to a thousand copies in its first week on the market. It's also attracted more (and more positive) reviews than any other novel I've written. At the time of writing there are 34 reviews, of which 9 are 4-star and 25 5-star. That's very gratifying, and I'm glad so many of you have enjoyed the book so much that you wanted to share that with other potential readers. I'm particularly pleased with the lack of reviews of 3 stars and below. Clearly, I've been able to improve my writing (with the help of my editor) to the point that some previous weaknesses have been addressed. I'll strive to continue that improvement in future books.
A major sticking point is that most of those buying and reading 'Brings The Lightning' have been previous readers of either my books, or others published by Castalia House, or those published by the author-contributors to the Mad Genius Club writing blog. This is clear from the 'also-boughts' on the book's Amazon web page (i.e. the series of books headlined, "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought"). There are few books listed there from the Western genre. I've got to find a way to market my new novel directly to those who like Westerns. It's obvious that nothing I've done so far is having that effect. I'm exploring a number of options in that regard, including talking over the problem with experts, and there'll probably be some advertising in the not too distant future. It'll take time to spread the word, but as that happens, I hope sales will improve.
Castalia House is hard at work on print and audiobook editions of 'Brings The Lightning'. They should be available within a matter of weeks, so watch this space for details. This will be my first venture into the audiobook market, so that's an exciting development. If it's successful, we'll see about audio editions of some of my science fiction books as well.
All in all, I'm generally satisfied with the launch. There's plenty of room for improvement in marketing, which I'll be tackling (with the able assistance of my wife and my publisher) over the next few weeks and months. By the time the next book in the series comes out, about this time next year, I expect the ground to be much better prepared for its arrival.