I’ve been an author for quite a long time, technically, but right now, things are different. At the moment, instead of staring wistfully at my Amazon sales figures once every few weeks, wondering what’s wrong with me, I’m refreshing the page every hour or so, and going ‘Ooh! More!’
And I’m not quite sure what has made the difference. When I wrote my first book, I didn’t know if it was any good. When I published it, people seemed to like it. People I knew, that is. And a few strangers. But there was never much in the way of income from it, or a sign that what I did was actually making its way out into the world. And it was a much different world from today. Last year, when publishing on KDP, I had to pretty much explain the concept of an eBook to 85% of the people who wanted to read what I had written. Fast forward a year, and everyone and his civil partner seemed to own a Kindle, a Kindle Fire, or some other crazy electronic book machine.
So the launch for Girl Afraid was a much less complicated thing. And also, a much less successful one. Whether it was that it was no longer ‘THIS GUY’S FIRST BOOK, SO LET’S SUPPORT HIM’, or I’d failed to hype it up for weeks before I published, or quite simply the fact that the subject matter was perceived to be ABHORRENT, the sales were trickly at best, among my ePals. That said, the ones who did buy it seemed very impressed, and most of them paid over the odds for it, as I look much thinner these days, and they assumed I wasn’t eating.
Now, though; now that it’s in the real world, and people I don’t know are downloading it in their hundreds/thousands/etc, I am in a whole new world. Reviews from complete strangers, pointing out what they didn’t like about it, as well as saying what they did. I’M NOT USED TO THAT SORT OF BALANCED CRITICISM, PEOPLE. Hold me. One reviewer seemed to have read an entirely different book to the one I wrote: his one was some sort of explicit kiddy porn novel, which he recommended to child sex predators everywhere. I was going to say ‘much to my chagrin’, but, almost immediately after that review went live, sales went through the roof. Hopefully that was a coincidence, because no one really wants to exploit The Paedo Dollar. Well, apart from Disney.
This book is definitely having an impact, when you compare it to The Boys of Summer. I remember some people thinking that aspects of that book were ‘disturbing’ and ‘hard to stomach’, but Girl Afraid seems to have taken the concepts of ‘controversial’ and ‘polarising’ up several hundred notches, and I suppose I’m quite happy about that. I don’t want the book to have twenty gushing, well-written five star reviews. I want it to have conflicting ones. People fighting in the aisles over it. The success of a show like The X-Factor goes hand in hand with other people complaining about it, misunderstanding it or hating it. You’re no one in any business unless someone hates what you do.
The book, for those who are interested, is not explicit or graphic, to any point where I would feel it was in bad taste. It’s certainly a work that makes you imagine the bad stuff, though. The same as The Silence of the Lambs did, or any decent horror movie. The rule in fiction is usually ‘show, not tell’, but I think what I did was ‘imply, not show’. For some readers, that’s still too much, and I respect them if that’s the case. But there is more to the book than scares and gulps. I wanted to flesh out all of the characters, good and bad. No pantomime villains, no flawless heroes, no Mary-Sues. Just people in an extraordinary situation, acting the way people act.
The heroine will frustrate you, because she doesn’t have all the necessary traits to solve the problem and get things tied up in a neat bundle. The bad guys will confuse you, by having human feelings and real lives that are unrelated to the plot. And, although I never try to justify their actions, they will- all day long. Because an ostensibly evil person doesn’t walk around all day thinking how evil they are. Despite rumours to the contrary, evil DOES sleep. Evil needs at least seven hours sleep a night, just to function. And how do we allow ourselves to sleep? We justify our actions. Whether you are stealing from your boss, cheating on your wife, or doing what these guys do, you try and make your peace with God and yourself, otherwise, there a cognitive dissonance thing going on. Or whatever that’s called (I never do the research).
What I’m trying to say here is,
– The book is selling, big time
– It’s a little scary reading reviews
– The book itself is quite scary, but not in the ways you might think
– Thank you for downloading it, reading it, reviewing it (good or bad)
– Keep it up, keep telling your friends, keep me from looking so emaciated.
Love you all,