Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Tanker

Bev gave me the idea for this post. It's a painful one to admit, but hey, maybe we'll all learn something about marketing, publishing and the power of trends.

Out of This World is Bev's favorite book. Mine too.

Mrs. Giggles (a notoriously hard-to-please reviewer) gave it a 94 out of 100. Mystery Man, who is a man, and a screenwriter and who had never read an erotic romance before, loved it. My friend Dana (who gives me Moppits whenever I sell a manuscript) wants to marry Arnie. Heather Rae Scott (the first person to ever crit me on Miss Behavior) begged me for Arnie's story after she read it, and so did Elizabeth and other reviewers.

Every freakin' person who's read this book has loved it.

So, what's the point of this post?

The point is: OOTW tanked at the box office. Most authors have one of these books at some point in their careers, so really, it's no great shame or anything. But my question is, if Arnie is such an awesome hero, why isn't he selling?

I think it's his name: Arnie Simpson. Not your typical romance hero name. But Vicki Lewis Thompson writes NYT bestselling nerd books. Are any of her nerdy heroes named Rafe? I don't think so. But I could be wrong.

Mystery Man thinks it's the cover -- too bland, he says, and what are they doing, waltzing? But child number two tells me it's her favorite cover of all my books.

What do you think? Why is the book of my heart and my voice so unpopular? Sure I can sit here in front of my computer and tell myself, "Genius is never recognized during its time." And on a good day, I believe myself. But there MUST be another answer.


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Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

I think that one of the problems was that the print book came out too close to the e-book. I know that I was frustrated when I realized there was a print book right after I purchased the e-book. Needless to say, I purchased both.

I realized that I didn't leave a review at Amazon so I'm going over there and maybe it will help. Hope so.

September 14, 2007 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

Okay, I went to Amazon and wrote the review. It's not very good. I'm not a review writer. I can tell you I love your books but it's very hard for me to convey that to someone else. Okay, Okay! I'm whining. I will now shut up!

September 14, 2007 10:33 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

*tackle hugging Bev*

You're such a sweetie! Thank you for posting that review. You think I care if you're a review writer or not? All I see is this: This is the funniest erotic book I have ever read. This: will have you smiling and sometimes laughing out loud and this: I highly recommend this book.

It kinda reminds me of those sorts of loud, enthusiastic conversations we have with our friends when discussing a great movie: "Do you remember this part?" "Oh that part was a scream!" "What about when they..."

Thanks so much for doing that for me, Bev. You da best!

September 14, 2007 10:46 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Hey, I got so excited about the review I forgot to comment on your observation.

That never would've occurred to me! I always went along thinking e and print buyers were two separate and distinct markets and that most readers didn't cross over.

I wonder if the Samhain authors have anything to say about this. A bunch of my friends had books go to print 3 months after e-release. I shall have to ask them if they think that had any impact on sales.


PS -- I've been plotting Armageddon Out of This World this morning ;)

September 14, 2007 11:57 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...


Over at Dear Author, in the comments section of Jayne's review of Susan Grant's Your Planet or Mine, Susan comments that SciFiRom is still the bastard cousin of vamps and weres. But her sales are climbing. Maybe I'll catch some of her crumbs. LOL.

September 14, 2007 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

I would rather have sci-fi than vamps and weres. The last two are starting to get tiresome. Some of them are well written but others just seem to be copying what has gone before them.

Please don't get rid of the sci-fi elements in your books. They add just the right touch without being overbearing. On my knees begging!LOL

September 14, 2007 5:31 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

No one's ever fallen at my feet before. Maybe I'll just keep you down there for a while and gloat. Oh the power!

Nah, I have no intention of abandoning the sci fi lite. I really enjoy playing with the more subtle new agey elements like telepathy, sixth sense and out-of-body etc. That's more interesting to me than techno and world building.

Hard core SFers hate it when aliens are just like humans. But I prefer it, especially when it comes to sex! Spiral doodads and double dicks just don't turn me on. If I ever did that, it would be with a secondary character and I'd probably make him a whining mutant loser -- like the Rick Moranis character in Ghost Busters. Hmmm... gettin' ideas here. LOL.

September 14, 2007 10:01 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

forgot to add: even though it's frustrating that my chosen genres aren't the hot ticket to fame and fortune right now, in time the tide will turn. And as Fabdame has reminded me during all those times I sobbed and snotted on her shoulder, when that time comes, I'll have the backlist!

September 14, 2007 10:05 PM  
Anonymous jane/fabdame said...

Boo Ya!

September 14, 2007 11:42 PM  
Blogger Renee' said...

Well wanted some thoughts on why your 4th book was not as successful as had the previous titles been. So I asked my groups.

The predominate answer was that you had strayed from a contemporary/romance/comedy theme to the sci-fi theme too quickly. You went from one fan base to another and some of your fans didn't tag along with you.

Generally speaking the contemporary fan does not cross over often into the paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy area. As these fans are more conservative. So after reading Layover, Coffee, Tea, or Lea?, and Miss Behavior a fan would go looking for your next title expecting more of the same, and found Out of This World and it was not what they were used to or what they prefer. So they skipped it.

It takes time to develop a fan base as you have done. When you switch or delve into a new area it takes time for certain fans to catch up. You may however gain new fans in the sci-fi arena.


September 15, 2007 1:11 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Renee, your observation makes way too much sense. Since Layover was and continues to be my top seller, I've often wondered if I need to write another pilot book. Miss Behavior is a close second, btw. Contemporary readers really seem to dig those pilots.

Ah well. The next novella is a contemp, and then more sci fi lite.

September 15, 2007 9:24 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Also Renee, please thank your group for me, and thank YOU for taking the time to poll them!

September 15, 2007 9:34 AM  
Blogger Renee' said...

What author wouldn't want to show their range of talent by taking on new area's within their genre'. Many authors are able to straddle different areas of interest successfully while building fan bases in other markets. I am sure every author wants to stretch their imagination and potential and try new uncharted territory as far as their writing skills are concerned. It helps to keep an author fresh I would Imagine.

Personally,I am along for the ride and enjoy seeing where an author will take me next. I suppose the only drawback is when an author lays a strong foundation in one area and then moves on and never looks back. Take actors Tom Hanks and Robin Williams for instance, we loved them as comedians followed them into their serious dramatic roles and feel a little let down when they rarely release a comedy these days. We like to see these actors in new roles, but we don't want them to forget what got them there.

As for the Smut Sluts, we love reviewing, chatting, spotlighting and basically sharing favorite authors with every one we meet. It floats our boats to be part of the process in some way.


September 15, 2007 4:23 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

You have a good attitude about this whole thing, Renee!

I remember when the above actors (as well as Steve Martin and Jim Carrey) strayed into serious territory, and I took the same POV. I had enough trust in them from their body of comedy (which most people don't realize is deadly serious--perhaps even more so than drama) to follow and profoundly enjoy watching what they had to offer.

The thing here is that I ain't no Robin Williams, Jim Carrey or Jenny Crusie. My fanbase (such as it was) wasn't built on name recognition, but on subgenre.

But, you know, time is on my side. These books will be out there forever. I don't worry most of the time. But sometimes it bugs me and I'm so glad I swallowed my pride and put my doubts out there. I got me some good answers!

And you're right about wanting to stretch. More than that, even, is a need to stretch creatively. It's a need on the same basic level as sleeping, eating and sex ;)

Once those creative windows are thrown open and kept open, it's pretty darn amazing what flows in. Why would anyone want to close them?

When I got published, in effect, I got permission to be as crazy as I not only wanted to be, but always was and knew myself to be. And I actually got paid for it. It's an indescribable feeling of freedom I wish everyone could experience at least once in their lives.

No drugs can match it.

And Renee, make no mistake. You are part of the process. An irreplaceable part. When writers say they live for reader feedback, those aren't empty words. They mean it. Seriously.

Above all else, a writer has a dysfunctional, disproportional need to communicate. And if we didn't have you guys, we'd all be in the loony bin.

I was laughing on the phone with Sunny (Lyn Cash) today. I told her, and I quote, "I had a crappy life is on every writer's resume. It's in the job description. In fact, it's the only requirement!"

LOL. But, it's true.

September 15, 2007 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

Renee, once again I see your point of view and agree with it to a degree. If Ann's book had been a real techno sci-fi, it would have been one thing but it wasn't. Oh well, readers can be fickle.

Ann, when I first met Arnie in "Miss Behavior", I wanted more. It didn't matter whether or not he was from Mars or beyond. It was his character. Even if he did have a double dick, he could have always called it his Saturn-5 with a booster rocket. He would still be Arnie.

September 15, 2007 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

Okay, one more thing I like about Arnie. He hated flying. So do I. I haven't flown since 1975. I'm not particularily proud of it but I have had so many bad flights that I quit. Cold Turkey!!! I know, I know, Arnie got over it. I didn't. Now my deep dark secret is out. LOL.

September 15, 2007 9:50 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Ann, when I first met Arnie in "Miss Behavior", I wanted more.

You're far from the only one, Bev! I heard from many people who specifically asked for him to have a story of his own. Even I felt that way about him in Miss B and had to hold myself back from letting him take over Gage and Lorna's story. LOL. And, like you, I felt that the minor sci fi elements wouldn't be an obstruction for comtemp readers.

So really, who knows. Maybe Arnie is just a little ahead of his time. It's fitting, no? LOL.

And you know what? After a lifetime of flying I'm kinda scared of it now too ;) I still do it, but with the changes in technology, pilots don't really know how to fly planes anymore -- or how to make them perform in emergencies. Not like my dad did.

I've met commercial pilots who openly admit that. When the machine fails, there's no backup. Fortunately the machine rarely fails!

You're secret is safe with us!

September 16, 2007 8:03 AM  
Blogger Renee' said...

Ann you said. "The thing here is that I ain't no Robin Williams, Jim Carrey or Jenny Crusie. My fanbase (such as it was) wasn't built on name recognition, but on subgenre."

When I hold one of your published books in my hands, You ARE bigger than life. You have attained something the majority of your reading audience has not, you are published. You shine as bright as any NYT best selling author does

In the circles I run in your name is bandied about, you are a star to us! Right now 2 of your books are being auctioned off in the FR auction areas. Much goes on without your ever knowing. LOL

September 16, 2007 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

Amen, Renee!

September 16, 2007 7:53 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Stop it. Stop it! My eyes are leaking all over my nice new keyboard. You guys are the greatest. Don't ever leave me! I'll write anything you want. Just name it! But don't leeeeeeave!

I had an awesome day with the children at the King Tut exhibit. Gonna blog about that tomorrow so we can move on from my bout of self pity.

Thanks guys.

September 16, 2007 8:44 PM  

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