I’d like to thank my friend and editor extraordinaire Jodie Renner for her gracious—and utterly irresponsible—invitation to me to guest-post at Crime Fiction Collective today while she’s en route to Manhattan for Thrillerfest. I’m men’s size medium, by the way, Jodie, in case you want to bring me back a Lee Child t-shirt. Although good luck getting it off him.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about promotion. I’m going to start with the assumption that genre authors want to sell books. I know I do. It would be nice to be so pure of motive that sales meant nothing, that the process of writing was reward enough in itself, but can we agree that’s a load of bunk? Can we agree that’s a sentiment best left to the “literary” authors, who write books where nothing much happens and it’s all very introspective and ethereal?
Because I sure hope I’m not alone in wanting people to buy and read my work. I love to write, but if I wanted to write for myself I could just keep a journal.
So as a thriller/horror author you’ve probably never heard of, promoting my work is almost as high a priority for me as ensuring the quality of that work. That’s where reasonably-priced e-books come in. When I say “reasonably priced,” I’m talking about e-books priced lower than what you would pay for a mass-market paperback, preferably a lot lower.
Obviously, authors contracted with large traditional publishers have no say in the pricing of their work, but if Indie authors, those working with small presses or releasing their work on their own through rights reversion, price their work low enough, a book that defies easy genre classification can potentially gain a wide audience, introducing people who may never have sampled an author’s work to that author.
I’ll use as an example Dave Zeltserman. Fans of noir/crime fiction are probably familiar with his work. But what about readers in other genres? What motivation would, say, a fan of paranormal fiction or urban fantasy have to try Dave Zeltserman’s work? Until recently, none.
But with the rise of reasonably-priced e-books, a fan of urban fantasy might look at Zeltserman’s BLOOD CRIMES (it’s a vampire novel, sort of), priced electronically at a very reasonable $3.99 at Amazon, as a worthwhile gamble. That fan might read the book and discover she loves it, and what will she do if that happens? First, she’ll tell her urban fantasy-reading friends about this great book she just read from this cool author, and then she’ll go out and try another Zeltserman book, maybe a book that’s not strictly, or even partly, urban fantasy.
My point here is not to pump Dave Zeltserman’s tires—although if I don’t sell more books I may end up pumping his gas—my point is to demonstrate how reasonable e-book pricing can potentially earn an author more fans and, consequently, more sales and more money, in the long run than that author might have expected to earn. Books that may have been rejected in the past by what we consider “traditional” publishing houses because they don’t fit neatly inside narrowly-defined genre labels, have a chance at gaining an audience and exposing that audience to the author’s other work as well.
And if the books are good enough, it becomes a win-win for everybody.
Allan Leverone is a three-time Derringer Award finalist as well as a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee. His debut thriller, Final Vector, was released in February by Medallion Press. A follow-up, The Lonely Mile, is coming this summer from StoneHouse Ink, and his horror novella, Darkness Falls, will be released in September as part of Delirium Books acclaimed collectible horror novella series.