So, I am painting doors in my year-old home, and by year-old I mean I just moved in here a year ago – the house itself was built in the fifties – and I suddenly have this flash of genius. I feel like I have cracked the code to why I’m not selling more copies.
Everybody knows that there is more than enough evidence that there is some connection between almost every kind of major event and book sales. That is no secret. Books of a certain kind sell seasonally, and drawing a line from there, certain specific events spike sales of certain specific genres.
The Political Climate and Dystopian Book Sales
Interesting to note, is that this past year, dystopian novels have seen a sudden spike in sales. From Brexit to the U.S. elections, everything drove people to buy books like Gorge Orwell’s 1984. Just googling this will bring up plenty of news reports. (Keywords – ‘Brexit and book sales’ or ‘Donald Trump and book sales’)
Women Writers and Political Change
What does this mean for women writers like me, writing about the odd female triumph or an idea-conforming love-story? Does this mean we can only sell during Valentine’s Day, or when people push ‘female oriented’ books with an ultimatum?
A good story sells, but reselling is also important. When you see, that readers who have moved away from an old classic have now come back to it, reacting to a specific event, there must be a lesson in there for everyone in this business.
So What was my Great Revelation?
What I am learning from this is that there is never an event that spikes sales of books like “Why Women are Misunderstood” or “Women in Politics – ???” (replace question marks with any number of insightful phrases) Just google “Million Women’s March 2017 + Books”. There is nothing. It is a loud deafening silence. (Well, okay, there are T-shirts). When and how do I position the marketing for a book like this? Something like the ‘Handmaid’s Tale’? My coming of age fiction about a young group of techies who’ve mastered the rules of the workplace but still depend on anything but their inner voices to handle their personal issues, cannot find an in anywhere around any major event big or small. It will have to be noticed. It will have to win awards. That is the only route that female-centered books can take. That was the brainwave. Hoping to sell to a group that reads only certain kinds of book is madness. When push comes to shove the pecking order goes – Old Classics, Old Classics – Revived, Any book by an industry insider that has made it into the industry talking circles, Zombies, Zombies, Zombies and then ‘let’s see what’s going on, on Amazon with the romance and the Indie lit’. (Did I forget someone?)
Is There a Solution?
What am I left with here? If I don’t care about the kind of books I write, I might just write versions of them so that I can successfully stick it in any event, swinging left or right. Also, I might write a book for every event I anticipate and even some I don’t. Self-help books, fiction (e-Books) for the one stuck in a hurricane, and so on.
Else, I really should want to write about Zombies, really. The all-season sales is all about that, and no political event big or small effects that department. I’ve analyzed that to mean ‘this is the normal transition from comic books/graphic novels to adult book world.’ Do many people get stuck there? I can only guess.
Going back to political events, why wasn’t there an equal or bigger push towards books that centered around the theme of ‘women losing elections’ or something similar after the U.S. elections? What did people do with that emotion? Where did they put them? (Umm… No matter what, sexists rule.)
And after the ‘travel ban’ I did not see anyone rushing to buy books of a certain kind. I guess that too got judged as ‘out of this world’ and ‘dystopian’. And why buy that in large numbers? My theory (outside of the basement where I paint doors as a one-time activity) The zombie-ism affecting us propels us to communicate differently now. People are expressing themselves without using words. (At least no one was just tweeting emoji about wanting to buy dystopian novels. That would have been a bit much for me.)
While that is on, let’s hope people also turn to humor and love. Lots of love.