I think the most dreaded question asked of me right now is “what’s your book about?” which seems innocuous, but isn’t, and here’s why.
There’s this horrific little secret I’ve been harboring all summer.
Hi. My name is Chelle and I like to read terrible books.
Lots of terrible books. 187 so far this summer, in fact. Calling them terrible might be a little unfair since the writers (probably… maybe?) took a great deal of time and effort crafting them, but nonetheless the genres are a little ridiculous. Here’s my current favorite:
The Alpha Werebear Billionaire Bad Boy’s Secret Baby, Book 147 of the Killer Flames Motorcycle Club Series.
I’ve changed a tiny bit of this to protect the actual genre, but this isn’t far from reality. Alpha Billionaires are big. Paranormal Romance is big. Bad Boys are big. Motorcycle Clubs are big. Smoosh them all together and throw in a secret baby? HELLLLLO! I’ve spent the summer reading this stuff, one 42 page disaster at a time. I would like to say that I read the sheer number of these gems as part of some antidote to all the high-brow books on my shelf and the obvious literary superiority I possess, but the truth is… not that.
I read them initially because they were mindless and some part of me found them endlessly entertaining. I read them because I have Kindle Unlimited and for $10 a month I have 400,000,000,000 books to choose from. I read them as I was trying to decide what to be when I grew up. I read them because of the horrified texts my daughters sent when looking at our shared Amazon queue. Texts from my girls with the facepalm emoji make me giggle, I don’t mind saying.
Once I got serious about compiling my writing into an actual novel I got a little more serious about reverse engineering how and why they sold. THAT became fascinating. I started to learn about writing to market, beats (as explained by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt), tropes and the art of indie publishing. I absorbed as much as I could and then started reading these offbeat books from a new perspective. What makes them tick? Why do they sell? What does their author actually look like? Do they have a fantastic website?
My marketing brain flipped. Damn you, marketing brain. (dramatically shakes fist like Scarlett O’Hara)
Writing software became important. Book cover analysis became important. Analytics on what writers earn and from what sources became important. Readers’ motivations became important. Editing budgets became important. Website design, newsletter automation and author promotion tactics became important.
Which brings me back to the question at hand. What is my book about.
Glad you asked! <insert fake cheesy grin here>
It’s about a consultant. Who consults.
In all seriousness, I’m trying to decide. Do I go for something I can publish proudly? Something in a genre that won’t make my mother fly out from California to do a well-check? Something that my girls could post on Facebook? Yeah, probably that. Chances are it wouldn’t sell and the marketing brain hates that ROI.
Marketing brain wants me to write to market a little better than a series of 147 books and make a little money. Write for the market that’s going to read this, like I did at the beginning of the summer. Money would be nice. Literary Integrity? Meh.
But then there’s the whole
threat idea of a “well-check” from my mother. And those never end well.