I was on the phone a few days ago with my dentist who asked me what I did for a living. I told him that I sold Western novels. He asked me what I did for a day job, and I told him to check his email. I had sent him a link to the Western bestseller chart. “See all those books? Well, the majority of them are ones I’m pushing,” I explained. “Can you see all the similar covers? See all the shared themes? See all those beautiful Winkle books, the Turners, the Parks, the Joiners, the Woods, the Turneys, the Mackessy mountain man hits, the Casey Nash novels? How about those Haggards? What about the Weldon R. Shaws? Those are reason enough for anyone to be making a living.”
Impressed, Nigel, the dentist, looked through the pages, and after studying, he could pick out every single book I was working on. “It’s the covers,” he said. “They stand out completely. You aren’t so dumb, are you?”
“Only on Thursdays,” I said. “You hit the jackpot, though. The secret. Our uniformity. We out-Western the Western and the readers love it, and we never mix our messages with the reader. We are Western through and through, and that’s what we present. Whether we sell straight-down-the-middle westerns, a horror adventure, a romantic story—it’s Western.”
You see, it’s true; the books we work on are like a giant, slithering snake cutting their way through a grass pasture. Our covers, our uniformity, our strength is what makes the product stand out. A reader can pick out one of our books by the style, by the font, by the presentation. They keep coming back and giving new authors a chance because they follow the brand, and that brand is what the Western genre needed. Brands are what every genre needs.
When we can all take a call with our dentist, and our dentist can pick out our books and the books of our co-authors, we know that we are doing our job. When the reader knows that he will have a good time reading our books due to the presentation and reputation, we know that this is only the beginning. What we have the capability of doing in the Western genre comes along so rarely. We have the opportunity to grow stronger and stronger, until the Western becomes one of the dominant genres again. DSP has nurtured a policy of Westernization for the Western reader and a policy of Western cross-over themes for readers interested in other genres, bringing the West to more readers than ever before.
It will be a beautiful thing—but for today, rest assured that our readers know who we are, and they are excited to read our product. They can pick it up and the messaging is on point. Who could ask for anything more from a genre that so many eggheads predicted as dead a few years ago?
Yes, the end of the beginning is in sight. Now the fun begins. Now, if you have any questions or ideas you would like to discuss, my door is always open. Like a hawk, I’m always around, plotting the next promotional step, watching the bestseller chart, tweaking ads and putting together new ideas. Just send me a note and let’s brainstorm together. Either way, the opportunity to succeed is yours.
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