No Romance, No Thrills — I’m Doomed

It seems to be official. What the majority of ebook readers want is love and thrills. At least that’s what Kindle statistics are showing, according to Martin Perry, writing on Huffpo. Romances and Thrillers – Studying Kindle Reader’s Genre Preferences  If you expect to get rich by writing novels, boys and girls, you’d better get with the program. It isn’t surprising, and it isn’t even really news, but it does come at a significant moment in time, for me.

As a result of spending a couple of hours discussing Hidden Boundaries, and novels in general, with #1 son yesterday, I’ll be giving some serious attention to re-evaluating where I want to go as a novelist. I finally learned (several weeks after giving him a copy) that, yes, he’d read it. Yes, he liked it. Yes, he thought it was well-written. But…

I was already aware of that “but,” even though it’s been floating around the periphery of my consciousness as a low-priority item I’ll get around to when I have the time/get this book finished and out of the way/get the next one well started … There’s nothing like hearing all about it from someone who has no particular interest in your genre (or cross-genre), and who has the ability to look on even his own mother’s work with a coolly objective eye. Once we got past “I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to come across as too critical, and discourage you,” it was a great conversation.

Maybe it takes the combination of someone who knows a good story when he sees it, and also knows you somewhat better than you’re comfortable with to home in on the big picture. Not the sentence construction, the commas, etc., but what he’s left with when he’s finished reading. That’s the “but.”

Hidden Boundaries is a decent first effort, and Crossing Boundaries is better. After all, it’s a learning process. But they’re not really the kind of books I should be writing. I let myself get sidetracked, probably by delving too much into the world of fictional male/male relationships. Most of those books are about romance and have big, fat doses of emotional ups and downs. And that’s exactly what I’m not very good at. I’d intended to write science fiction, and it wound up being tepid romance, instead. Well, some of my readers think it’s great, but when it comes to those ratings with chili peppers to indicate heat level, Hidden Boundaries is somewhere between zero and one, not just in bed, but everywhere. It was never intended to be a romance, but that’s how it came out. By the end of Crossing Boundaries, I finally got back some of the hard edge I’d wanted, and I’m not sure how that’s going to work for readers of Hidden Boundaries. But it’s done, and now it’s time to find the right path.

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6 thoughts on “No Romance, No Thrills — I’m Doomed

  1. Science fiction also does well on Kindle. My husband’s sci-fi trilogy has sold well over 10,000 versus my mainstream and historical fiction of 700. Ebooks still beat just having your novels read by a handful of friends and relatives. The choice is between writing for the market or writing what you want to write. Maybe you can do both. I’m satisfied with a few total strangers choosing to read one of my books. Figuring out what the “market” whats to read is not something I care to do.

    1. At this point, I’m not even thinking about what sells well, and I doubt that I’ll ever care. I’m concerned with what’s the right thing for me to be writing. In fact, I just read a blog post that urges new writers to write short and fast, because that’s what every reader supposedly wants. The hell with any other motivation. It’s all about capturing those millions of eyes and making the thousands of dollars. I’ll be making my own comments on that trend–maybe tomorrow.

      I hope you stick to the genres that really spark your creativity, even if they don’t sell as well.

  2. I’m all for writing what appeals to me, Catana. It’s not that I don’t care about the reader…the reader is foremost in my mind and I want to make each novel as perfect and tension driven as I can (ie…fun read). But I just want to write for the readers who like my kind story telling. Simple as that. I try not to listen to what the marketing gurus say, as it tends to not actually end up being true, first off…and secondly, it is just a distraction.
    No one can be you like you can.

    1. Unless you deliberately set out to write what’s likely to be commercially successful, you write for yourself first and hope that there are others who will appreciate it. The readers make the hard work worthwhile.

      I’m not impressed by the gurus, except those who share their own learning and experience rather than lay down sets of rules. But I see too many blog posts by beginning writers who are trying to follow those rules as if they’re handed down on a stone tablet.

  3. Okay, you lost me there a little bit. Why can’t you have both romance and sci-fi?? And why can’t you step out and make hot, hot? Consider it a challenge to make it sizzle, while still holding true to your theme.

    When you write a novel, you can not please everyone. Think about your target audience and then ask someone that fits in that group to read it, instead of someone who is not interested in that genre in the first place.

    If someone asked me to read a romance, I’d be like…er, ah, well, I got a thing and then this other thing, and oh, uh, well, maybe next… How’s the kids? You’re looking good.

    No dis to romance writers, just not cup of tea. I definitely fall into the Thrillers.

    1. I guess I wasn’t clear. I don’t want to write romance. I don’t even read it as a first choice. If a romance has other strong elements that interest me and that are central to the story, I’ll read it, and hope that the romance doesn’t turn into the usual cliches, or into erotica, which is just plain boring. It isn’t a matter of stepping out or meeting a challenge. The writing I’m trying to aim at has plenty of challenge.

      As far as having a draft read by someone who’s not interested in the genre, generally I’d agree with you. It just happens that my son gave me the best analysis of my weaknesses that I’ve ever received. Those weaknesses are independent of genre, so it could have been almost any type of novel.

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