As we all know, it can take some time to take off as a writer—and it takes courage to keep promoting a book. How can you keep going when nothing is happening? Where are those multitudes of readers you keep hearing about? Yes, it’s a lonely business. Those at the top know that Western readers are some of the most voracious readers in the world—they tend to read book, after book, after book from their favorite authors—but those at the bottom of the ladder see no proof of this. How can it be that a writer just suddenly takes off and become a hot new favorite? Well, this discussion we are having is about Charles Ray. He is one of the new favorites who has found himselves in this enviable position. Charlie is a prolific writer who only needed one thing—a hit Western—to bring readers flooding to his door.
Just as you have faith as you pray, Charlie always had faith in his writing. Book after book after book found readers without complaint, but when he recently sat down to write his first Mountain Man adventure, the book shot up the charts like a thing possessed. It was a chart hit that he has quickly followed up with another success and no doubt a third is on the way. He is on the road to great success.
But how does a book from an author just come out and become a great success? How do you go from Nowheresville to the top ten in just a few breezy weeks, and how do you follow up such success? Well… let’s discuss it, friend. Pull up a chair and sit yourself down.
Prospecting and Initial Contact
We had an author who has all the talent in the world, but he hadn’t yet scored a big hit. Why? What was the reason? Why was this author not connecting with readers? All the questions you might ask yourself privately—but in this case, the answers are simple. We put together a product that follows the hit formula and that formula will tell us if readers will nibble. Mountain men? Hot business. We lead with a new character, we give him a situation we know readers will be interested in, and we pull together a cover we know readers will engage with.
Okay, so they say anyone can write a good read, but the key here is good. Is the book good enough for the reader to take onboard and enjoy? Yes, your mother liked it; yes, your sister liked it. Sure, your uncle liked it—but will readers? How do we discover the answer to this? We use beta readers who will score the book. High scoring means the book is going to the next stage. Low scoring sends the book back to the author for re-evaluation.
We have a fair idea if the book reaches this stage that the book has a shot of gaining traction on the market. But now we have to plan ahead—what do we do once this book is on the market and gaining attention? Do we need a second book ready before release? Do we need a second book two months after release? What do we follow up with? Do we have a box set of the author’s older books to roll with? These questions need to be answered early, so we should have it all sorted out before we go any further. Makes sense, no?
I Hate That…
“I hate that cover,” is one thing I remember an author screaming down the phone at me. “I hate it!” I asked why he hated it. He hated the coloring. I asked him to give it a try. He wouldn’t. He wanted to design his own cover. Fine. He got with the designer and designed a new cover. The cover he rejected went to another author. Six months later, the rejected cover was at number one and the cover he chose was being replaced due to low sales. The moral of the story? Object all you want. You may even get your wish. But keep in mind, a hit cover is a hit cover and it doesn’t care which book it ends up on. The goal here is to sell books. If you hate a cover—you really can’t stand it!— but it doesn’t matter. It’s what the reader wants that counts.
The book is ready for release—it has a cover we feel will sell, it has forewords, it is a solid product. We are ready for market. The book heads to market and now we are ready to see if readers will give you that golden shot. The once in a lifetime opportunity. The ads will get you in front of readers, the cover will get them to look inside, but once inside, it’s between you and the reader. Exciting.
Westerns work to a formula like anything else. You have those cowboy books lying around doing nothing? Want to get something done? Why don’t you drop me a line and ask a few questions and get a direction? We might as well do something with them. Readers are looking for new books all the time… You can contact me by clicking here.