Strange things began to happen when I started self-publishing my novels. It started out as small steps; really just tip-toeing into this ever-changing literary wilderness and trying to figure out to attract an audience to my works.
I experimented with advertising on Facebook and after several stumbles I seem to have hit a vein of interest among my targeted demographic audience. Gradually, people began to read my books and then to’ like’, ‘comment on’ or ‘friend’ my author page.
I’m not so bold or confident as to think that it’s a reflection on me but rather (I hope) my story-telling abilities and the fictional characters that I’ve created there-in. I expect that these folks care as much about Daniel and Colleen and Jeb and Charlotte and what happens to them as I do.
Then, ever careful to follow social media standards of etiquette, I took the eye-opening opportunity to peruse my reader’s Facebook pages and examine the kind of individuals I’ve been attracting with my stories; both the westerns and “Love in the A Shau,” my coming of age love story set in the sixties.
I was shocked…or perhaps a better word would be surprised. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was surprised never-the-less.
Somehow I had foolishly painted this picture in my mind of my ideal reader. I thought I knew what he or she might be like. Yet in reality it wasn’t based on anything more than some naïve assumption of who I thought would be attracted to my stories and characters.
Several attempts of advertising on Facebook to reach a female audience for “A Shau” were initially met with disappointing results. We weren’t even getting close to attracting the kind of woman I thought would like “A Shau.” Then we changed our demographics and things began to improve…considerably.
Let’s just say the women who like “Love in the A Shau” (and I’m surmising here and perhaps tip-toeing on sensitive ground) are little like some of the women in the novel except perhaps for Summer Storm.
Most of them probably didn’t go to Bryn Mawr but they value education. I’m may be taking a chance here but I’d guess they’re very sensitive, romantic and have connected with my protagonist Daniel on a very emotional level. They feel an affinity for his socio-economic place on campus and in life. I’m guessing that’s because they knew other young men just like him in real life.
Their comments tell me they appreciate the honesty and rawness of that period and how it affected young people. Perhaps for some of them, “A Shau” was a glimpse back into a collegiate life not unlike that of ‘The Great Gatsby.’ Whatever their motivation, their responses have been heartfelt and much appreciated. I owe them all a deep debt of gratitude and feel a tremendous responsibility to deliver more of the same in future novels.
And as for the men who like my westerns. Well, let’s just say most of them didn’t go to Oxford or Yale. They hale from the United States, the U.K., India, Asia and Australia. They’re down to earth, blunt, realistic, opinionated and strong-minded. I would gladly bend an elbow with any one of them at a pub or go on Recon. if I could.
They like guns and motorcycles. Many of their political views border on conservative. The places where we meet in the middle are in their love of their grandchildren, their thirst for individual freedom and liberty, music of the people, love of country and an unabashed pride in who they are and where they came from. I’m guessing that despite our many differences, there are just as many points in the middle where we could enjoy a beer or two and solve most of the issues in the world in some pub around the world.
Surprisingly my readers and I share more in common than I ever imagined. Like Daniel and Robert, my two protagonists in “Love in the A Shau” and “Debris,” I am uncomfortable among the moneyed elite that frequent many parts of Palm Springs and our society in general. These suito-intellectual, class-conscious folks see their status in society as ordained and well earned. They mistakenly assume that luck or inheritance had nothing to do with their million dollar house on a golf course or the Bentley they drive. Their class-conscious, intellectual arrogance belies a lack of class on so many levels.
My readers are an interesting lot and I’m glad to have them. Literature abounds with dozens and dozens of genres and sub-sets thereof. I’m not trying to attract the literary hounds who shadow the New York Times Best Seller List for new arrivals. I write what I want to write.
I tell stories for a living. I like telling stories and as long as there is an audience for my kind of story, I will continue to spin my tales and engage my readers with wonderful characters, interesting backgrounds and a twist or two in the process. It’s a journey we’re all on and it’s been one heck of a ride thus far.
I’m much more comfortable around the folks whom I associate with in my real and fictional life rather than the literary elite. My audience and my friends are the really honest ones around here.