It’s been a funny couple of months really. If you are wondering where I’ve been since early October, I’ve been in the final stages of producing my second book, A Traitor’s Fate [hereafter referred to as ATF].
I am sure it was just a coincidence but it all seemed to kick off after I went to the Harrogate Historical Fiction Festival in October. Well, it started before that really…
I finished the dreaded second book in the early autumn and all the indications from my editor were positive but you still wonder as you are about to release it onto an unsuspecting public.
I had hoped to prepare the way for the second book in two ways: increase the visibility and sales of my first book, Feud, and then set up ATF for pre-order to build a little momentum. As it turned out, the first part of my cunning plan worked well. Feud had been well received but sales were relatively sparse until I dropped the price in August. Then things picked up a bit and Feud was selling steadily on Amazon UK though hardly at all on Amazon.com. In October, UK sales began to accelerate.
However, my scheme to arrange pre-order for ATF showed up my naiveté because I discovered belatedly that Amazon don’t allow pre-order for just any Tom, Dick or Harry and certainly not for low life like me whose sales are limited. So, no pre-orders!
In fact, it did not seem to matter. Feud continued to sell well on Amazon UK through November, remaining in or around the top 100 in Action & Adventure as well as Historical Fiction.
That alone seems to have given the sequel, ATF, some momentum. I’ve had to pinch myself all this month – I keep asking myself: why have people decided to start buying Feud now, a year after its publication? Don’t get me wrong, I do think my books are good. I am just surprised at the suddenness with which other people seem to have reached that conclusion!
One of the pieces of advice I received early on from another author was to be patient and to build readership even if only gradually. At the time I didn’t get it, but now I do. We are not all going to write an instant best seller but if you can get readers interested in the stories you write and the characters you create, then perhaps the word will spread. Visibility is the key: if the readers don’t see your book, they are not going to buy it. On Amazon UK sales have made my books visible; on Amazon.com they haven’t. Like Morecambe & Wise, I’m struggling to win over America!
Why did readers start buying Feud? I’ve no idea. Perhaps I have an anonymous and influential benefactor somewhere out there in the UK ether who has been spreading the word. It’s fanciful to think that when I rubbed shoulders with other, more well-known, historical fiction writers at Harrogate, a little bit of their success rubbed off on me.
But…you know what? I think it is just patience.