Books that don’t fit the parameters

Two-time RITA winner Connie Brockway recently announced that she’s going rogue and self-publishing two of her books (and probably more later). You can read about her reasons here. The first mentioned was monetary, but there was another one that I’ll share:

Over the last couple years, as print publishers have been facing numerous financial crises, it has felt like they’ve become less likely to buy a book that doesn’t fit snugly within the parameters of last month’s success and since last month’s success was dictated by the previous month’s success (and so forth and so on) there hasn’t been a whole lot of room left in which to play. And I dearly love to play.

And this:

There’s evidence that there’s a huge pool of readers out there who got left behind while the legacy publishing houses were tightening their parameters, and who are starving for a gritty western or an gentle American or a bloody medieval or, blush, an off kilter sheik story. Why, Masha Canham has topped 6000 eBook sales on Kindle since the first of the year re-issuing her wonderful pirate novel, Swept Away. And she’s done so without benefit of a Facebook page or one single tweet. Because there’s an audience who have been waiting, hunting and searching for a pirate saga. With eBooks, those readers can once again find those that speak to their romantic fantasy, not necessarily everyone else’s.

In the end, that was one of the reasons I became an indie author. I’ve come close to selling but my books don’t seem to write to the parameters. Michelle Diener’s historical, ILLUMINATIONS, will be out in August. Her books are amazing and brilliant, and I know this Tudor-set series is going to be a HUGE hit. But the thing is, she’s written other amazing and brilliant books that she couldn’t sell because of the parameters. As her critique partner, I got to read them and I LOVED them. I know that other readers would love them, too. But that’s something mainstream publishing wasn’t ready to take a chance on. (Though that could change after she becomes a bestselling author… :cool: )

I used to be a big reader of historical romances. But I’ve read the “I married a Duke” type book too often and don’t want to read it again, no matter how wonderfully it’s written. I want something new and fresh. Will I be one of Connie’s readers? You bet I will.

What kind of books would you like to read — or have read in a self-published book — that you’re not seeing on the bookshelves?

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27 Responses to Books that don’t fit the parameters

  1. Elle J Rossi says:

    Love the topic, Edie.

    I, too, work with a critique partner that writes just outside the “parameters”. Her writing is so beautiful, the story takes me through all the emotions. I laugh, cry, get angry, and root, root, root! Thankfully she was able to sell to one of the smaller houses. I feared she would get so disenchanted the book would just sit on her shelf. Sad indeed.

    Stories are meant to be told and people will line up to listen if only given a chance.

  2. Barbara Vey says:

    With the big announcement of Amanda Hocking, I’m concerned with all the writers who may think that self publishing is their way to fame and fortune. The thing is that Amanda wrote some out of the box books that caught on with her readers and she wrote a lot of them. It kind of reminds me of J.K. Rowlings who traditionally had her books published, but has her own rags to riches story.

    There’s nothing wrong with self publishing, but there are pitfalls. You still have to have a good story, good editing and an audience. I wish everyone the best of luck with all their endeavors, but I just want to offer caution. It’s a tough business no matter how you do it, just keep an open mind and be prepared for anything.

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Barbara, I hope other self-published authors know all of that, too. I have to say, though, that authors published through NY have to be careful as well. This isn’t a business for wimps. You need to have a real passion for what you do and to believe in yourself.

      • Liz Kreger says:

        I agree. You really have to study the market, determine if your book is appropriate for self-publishing and be tenacious. Hocking is a success story and I really don’t see why other cannot be. So many authors write outside the box. Readers love those books. Here is a place for them to find ‘em.

  3. Amy Atwell says:

    I’m a lover of historicals, but while I enjoy a good Regency, the fact is that there are tons of them out there. I’d love to see Colonial America or Civil War or other European locales. I had an idea for a medieval, set in the heart of Europe (now Germany). The story required that it be near the university of Heidelberg, on a major trade route, in an area where the Pope was still fighting to control the landowners. I had an original romance premise that piqued immediate interest. But when I said medieval in Germany (and not the traditional England), even my agent told me I’d have to move the story to England, Scotland or maybe Ireland. I wound up putting the story idea on a back burner.

    I’m definitely rooting for Connie and other talented indies. I agree, it will be a tough battle fighting for market share. And don’t scrimp on the quality–all books need the eye of an editor and cover art is an art in and of itself.

  4. Edie, with you on my mind, I was scanning the Kindle book store on amazon and found one of yours … Cattitude. Haven’t read it yet, but was tickled to come across your name.

    Joe Konrath had a rant that lasted almost six months. I wrote to him and asked if he believed this was the way of the future for most writers and did he have any advice. He wrote: “I was able to risk everything because I already have name recognition. I can’t tell anyone how to become well known, so you self-publish at your own risk.”

    I have a question for you and Connie. How do you deal with the issue of name recognition when thousands of books are on Kindle and their related formats?

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Flo, great question! I got a good kick-off with Cattitude through my connections, but after the first couple weeks, the sales dumped. By then I’d already emailed reviewers and book bloggers. Either they were cat lovers or the blurb intrigued them, but I ended up getting a nice number of great reviews. That helped.

      For my next book, Dead People, in the requests I sent, I mentioned the reviews I had for Cattitude. I think that helped me get reviews, only I was too busy revising my next book to send a lot of requests. But I lowered the price to 99 cents. Totally worth it. I’ve sold over a 1000 ebooks this month, and Dead People is in the top 10 of a couple of lists, so it gets recommended to readers. Very cool.

      It doesn’t happen overnight. There were weeks and even months when sales trickled in. But this is cumulative, and I never gave up. I’m finally selling more Dragon Blues books, too, and I’m happy.

  5. Suzie Quint says:

    I miss the medieval fantasy stories. The ones the industry is tired of, much the way they’re tired of pirate stories. Maybe self-publishing will bring those back. :)

  6. Edie, you make me blush! Thank you.

    Yes, it is frustrating when a book you love and know in your heart is as good as the book that got you a NY deal didn’t get the same treatment because it didn’t fit nicely in a box. But there are so many more options now, as Connie Brockway and others have shown. I’m in this for the very long haul, and I love that there are more channels available to writers.

    Your books enchanted me, made me laugh and made me think since I first started critting with you, and every rejection you got made no sense to me. I’m glad you’ve made your own dreams come true.

    I’m a huge Brockway fan for her novel MY DEAREST ENEMY, which is one of my favorite historical romances. I wish her, you, and all of us the best of luck. More choice in our publishing journey can only be a good thing.

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Back at you for making me blush! I’m glad there are other avenues for your books, too. I think many NY pubbed writers will also be taking these other avenues. It’s great to have choices.

      My Dearest Enemy and The Bridal Season are two of my favorite books by Connie. I’m sure she’s going to be a bestselling author on Kindle and other digital retailers very quickly after she self-publishes.

  7. Mary Jo says:

    Edie,

    I’ve read Cattitude and Sparring Partners both of which were self-published. Also read Karen McQuestion’s book, the title escapes me. Loved them all–and for different reasons. I’ve a few more self-published ones on my Kindle including Dead People but haven’t gotten to them yet, but not because books take a number in my TBR pile.

    I admire those authors with the connections to find the experts to help them bring the perfect, but out of the NY box, story to desperate readers wanting such stories. I grapple with whether I can do it with a couple of mine which I know are pretty much ready but am I willing to learn the skills for covers, etc and give up the time to do so? That is a serious dilemma. :cry:

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Mary Jo, you are a great friend! I don’t do my own covers. I don’t have those kind of skills and I also don’t have the vision that my cover artist, Laura Morrigan, possesses. She’s affordable, fast and fabulous. I highly recommend her.

  8. Thanks for the information and the link to Connie Brockway’s story. I remember years ago when Zoe Winters first mentioned she might go the self-pub route; in my heart, I was screaming, “NOoooo – don’t do it! Nothing will come of it!” but wishing her luck nonetheless.

    I’m so glad she proved me wrong. :) My attitude was based on my grandfather’s bad experience with a predatory company that took advantage of self-publishers. I was even slightly concerned for you, but I did believe that with all the fans you’ve already accumulated, and Zoe’s (and others’ success) that you would probably make a good go of it – am glad that was right! :)

    Now, here I am doing it myself. I’ve currently only got one re-release of my very first novella, and in first month it has been on Kindle, I’ve sold more copies of it than I did when it was with a “real” publisher, and have also sold about the same as I did the first month with my novella, “Managing Maggie”, which is currently still available through Cobblestone Press.

    Now, the numbers aren’t grand, I admit, but it gives me hope that in time, as I put out more and better titles, they will be. It’s an exciting time that calls for optimism tempered with realistic expectations, and some hard work, but it’s totally worth it to have that freedom.

    Oh, and DRAGON BLUES was totally awesome – anyone who hasn’t read it yet, should. :)

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Kate, I’m squealing for you!!! You should have put your title on for us all to see. BEHIND THE MASK, right? I’m going to buy it now.

      And thank you! I’m happy you thought Dragon blues was awesome.

  9. Oh, my, Edie! :oops: The title is “Unmasked” but it’s one of those books that is definitely niche – menage erotica with a man and two women (the usual is one woman, two men). I wrote it because I knew the editor at the time with that particular publisher liked those types of stories, so I thought it would stand a chance. I was right, lol. :)

  10. Oh, my! You may have just gotten more than you bargained for, Edie! lol

    When my current WIP is done, I think you might like it – some romance, but not erotica at all. It’s the precursor to that one story start of mine you read and liked. I’ll let you know when it’s ready. :)

  11. Misty Evans says:

    Edie, I’m so proud of you. You make me want to keep writing, no matter what. For me, it’s all about the readers and what they want. I just got an email from a review blogger who loved Witches Anonymous and gave it a great review. Between her and you, I know I want to be a writer when I grow up. :lol:

    Indie publishing is giving me back control of my books, my vision, and apparently my vision (while it may not be NY’s vision) is still valuable to readers. I can’t wait to start on my next WA book and get it out there!

    And I have a friend who wrote an absolutely brilliant story, very Bridget Jones-ish, that I want others to read…I’m trying to talk her into direct pubbing it, because it’s really a splash of sunshine. I also think it would make a perfect movie for Lifetime movie network. Chiron…are you reading this??? :grin:

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Misty, I think you have the whole package. How cool about the review blogger. I love book bloggers! They’re the best way to get the word out about our books.

      If your friend doesn’t listen to you now, she’ll probably listen later.

  12. Liz Kreger says:

    I think its really interesting that a lot of big name authors are electronically re-releasing their backlist. I’ve read a couple of blogs/articles about it and think its a brilliant idea. As you say, the publishers are playing it conservative with what they’re releasing and as a result, a lot of terrific new authors aren’t being given a chance. Hope that changes in the near future.

    While I truly believe e-publishing is the future of publishing, getting die-hards to even try it is difficult. I just went through the conversation of e-readers versus hard copy yesterday at a birthday party. I was one of those “I like the feel of a book in my hands” … and while I still do, I can totally appreciate using an e-reader.

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Liz, they aren’t just publishing their backlists, more and more are self-publishing their most recent books. Bob Mayer just posted on his blog that he’s self-publishing his epic Civil War novel.

      And, sure, it takes awhile to get used to something new. I always loved my print books, but now that I have my Kindle, I do most of my reading on it. The biggest thing for me is the convenience. I don’t live near bookstores.

  13. Cynthia Eden says:

    My friend Katie Reus recently self-published a romantic suspense novella–I just downloaded it and can’t wait to start reading! There are so many great stories out there.

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Cindy, that’s another reason to self-publish. It’s a great chance to write shorter books that aren’t 90-100K words. I’m aiming for 70-80K with this book, though I seem to get wordier, so don’t know if I’ll make it.

      The three books I’ve already published are between 84-89k, but I wrote them with the intention to sell to a NY publisher. This one I’m writing with the intention to self-publish it. I can make it as long or short as I want.

      I hope you enjoy the novella!

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