ALL STORIES ARE ABOUT LOVE
Humans are born needing love to survive – ‘failure to thrive’ may even be a cause of death when there is not enough love, in the form of feeding, holding, keeping warm, for an infant to want to live.
If that love isn’t present ‘enough’ by a certain age, it may never be recovered. Adults who have survived have significant problems. The Romanian children kept in orphanages and later adopted often were incapable of attaching to their new parents, parent who were not prepared to deal with them and their special needs.
Distinguishing between a Romance and a mainstream love story
like Pride’s Children is critical for my advertising, and it is something I still have a very hard time with.
Romance readers do not like Pride’s Children.
The negative reviews I have come from people whose expectations were not met.
And that’s my fault – because something I did caused them to EXPECT a Romance.
Romance readers have very clear ideas of what they want:
- a relationship between TWO people
- relatively short books
- more of the same only different – from the same author
- an HEA (happily ever after) or at least HFN (happy for now) endings
- and in some cases, a form of point of view that alternates, in the same scene, between the points of view of the two characters
- covers which indicate the kind of Romance enclosed within, from chaste to steamy
- recommendations from Romance websites
There are many variations and compilations, but those are the basics from what I can discern.
I wish I wrote Romance – it is in some ways much easier to signal what a book is, and to market.
There is also a huge amount of competition!
A mainstream love story is a different beast
Even though Gone With the Wind is often listed as a Romance (and ‘Romance’ is what all novels used to be designated), it is not: no happy ending, not even a HFN. NOT a relationship between two people – Ashley Wilkes is in the middle for most of the book. And no head-hopping: the point of view is firmly locked on Scarlett for the whole story, but in a limited, not very intimate, omniscient way.
I’d call GWTW a mainstream love story, even a fairly literary one.
And I think that is the key to its enduring success.
At the end, we ache for Scarlett, for ‘tomorrow is another day,’ for her transformation, for her future – which made it irresistible for the Margaret Mitchell estate to allow a writer to take the story further.
Unfortunately, they picked a Romance writer, which I believe was the wrong choice, and didn’t buy.
But the marketing… with the book’s fame, they could market it any way they wanted.
I don’t have that fame.
Traditional publishers might have known how to market Pride’s Children
Many things kept me from submitting Pride’s Children to an agent, trying to find a traditional publisher:
- I’m deathly slow
- Disability is handled in the story – at the time I was nearing a finish, disability only got lip service while being sort of categorized with ‘diversity’
- I’m pathologically stubborn
- I have believed the indie self-published path is better for a long time now
- I dislike not having everything in my control
- I was sure I would be getting, “Nice – but not for us right now” responses, as traditional publishers went with things they were more certain they could sell
- I knew I would be asked to change certain elements of the story to something more palatable
- I don’t like their royalty structure
- If I break out, I want it to be because of what I did, and not for someone else to be able to claim the credit.
But not going traditional leaves me in charge of marketing and publicity.
And most indies do not write mainstream literary fiction!
So there is little path to follow, and that among mostly indie historical novelists; though if I end up taking as long as I seem to be, ‘historical’ may fit me. Depends on whether it is 25 or 50 years since the events happened, as 2005/6 is the timeframe. I’ll probably make 25 by the time I finish the third volume, but probably not be around for 50.
I am gleaning information and ideas from many sites and groups
None of them really appropriate.
I need to figure out how to ‘go viral,’ to capture the zeitgeist, to become popular.
While still having zero energy, fighting my body daily to get some writing brain time, and trying to blaze a trail.
I have ideas. I have sources and places to put ads (some of the previous ones were expensive disastrous messes). I get cannier and sneakier and more educated and more focused with each thing I try.
But it hasn’t been, and won’t be, easy.
The last attempt led me to USTO.gov (copyrights and trademarks and such) to make sure a phrase I will trademark wasn’t being used already.
But the cost is not zero, and the category I fit in right now – intent-to-use – won’t last long enough for my purposes, so I’m not revealing it until I’m ready to use it. Meanwhile, I will be on tenterhooks.
Which brings me full circle:
‘Write a good book,’ they said.
But never said that part of that may make it extremely hard to sell.
As usual, comments are very welcome – and I love getting suggestions.
Also, my thanks to Stencil for their graphics software and ability to have a free account for up to ten images a month.