This is a long post, but bear with me, it goes somewhere. Also: parentheticals, sorry,so many parentheticals.
With most of my books the life cycle has broken down something like this:
I enjoy a nice little amount of positive press (mostly, but not entirely, in genre-specific venues), have an opening boom of my people (friends, family, my small group of readers) buy the book during that first month and then sales level out into a nice steady pace.
None of them do spectacularly, but all of my main titles (Video Night, Tribesmen, and now The First One You Expect) do sell consistently.
Not counting short story collections and pre-orders, that pattern applies to all of my books except The Summer Job, my second full-length novel. The book did have the opening boom (thanks grandma!) but then sales swiftly fell and stayed down.
This baffles me.
Not only does it baffle me for selfish, narcissistic reasons, as I think the book is some of my strongest work available, but also for fairly objective reasons, as it doesn’t seem to follow the arc that all the other titles have taken.
The Summer Job got roughly the same amount of press as my other full novel (Video Night), received some high praise from some major outlets (Bloody Disgusting, John Skipp in Fangoria), Samhain did a decent job with advertising, and the book has even made an appearance on a best of the year list (specifically, a “best of the year, so far” list over at Complex). Yet the sales don’t stack up to my other stuff.
This could be a failing on my part (maybe I didn’t do enough to flog it, didn’t send it out to enough blogs or whatever or maybe I’m bad at that kind of thing), a failing on the book’s part, or some middleground between the two.
Or maybe there are other contributing factors:
- The Summer Job has been criticized as having “less action” than Video Night, so maybe that’s a turnoff for the people who liked the breakneck pace of that earlier one, but, come on: this is not some ponderous novel about an upper-middle-class twenty-something moving to Brooklyn and dealing with their quarter-life crisis while drinking French press coffee. Stuff happens in this book, big, bad, for real scary stuff.
- I’ve also heard from people who’re a bit turned off by the cover, thinking that the book’s somehow romantic or “erotic” horror. It’s not, so maybe there’s a problem with how it was branded.
- The book doesn’t sell itself on any set (or at least salable) horror trope. There are no aliens, cannibals, zombies, or vampires, and that might be what’s making it such a tough-sell. If that’s the case, it’s a bummer because I really do love the subgenre it fits into, I’d categorize it as belonging to the folk horror or satanic panic genres.
I’m thankful to the people who have taken the time to write a review on amazon or Goodreads, to share a link, or tell a friend. There are quite a few of you out there and I don’t want this post to sound like I’m whining or somehow ignoring the enormous favor you’ve done for both me and the book. I appreciate everything and am sincerely touched by any feedback (positive or otherwise).
I mean, the book exists regardless of whether it has an audience or not. That’s something I’m happy about, proud of, because I now have this artifact on my shelf, something I can look at while I’m working on new projects and say, “oh yeah, that was a good one, glad I did it.”
But still…I’ve got this hankering for a mulligan, a chance to launch the book again and be on my A-game this time, promotion-wise (which I’m not even sure what that means, but it would probably have to do with being more obnoxious, sending out more emails, not something I’m a fan of).
I can’t have that launch again–and I’m not looking to dip into sensationalism here–but I can lay down an offer:
If you buy, read and then don’t enjoy The Summer Job: you can punch me in the head.
Nothing below the eyes or above the chin (I don’t want to lose any teeth and I feel like I’ve probably got a glass nose), but anywhere else on the head, temples included.
But, sincerely, if you actively dislike the book: provide me with proof-of-purchase and I’ll send you back the four bucks and change you paid for the ebook.*
Or I’ll send you one of my other books as a replacement.
Whichever you prefer.
Because I want to push sales, gather some momentum, this offer will be valid on books purchased from now until the end of August.
I’m confident in this novel, and thus fairly certain I won’t have any takers for this offer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spread the word around and give people a chance to take The Summer Job taste-test for themselves.
I wouldn’t make an appeal like this just to make a few extra bucks (my royalties aren’t going to make me a millionaire, maybe not even a thousandaire), I’m doing it because I want to see the book get in more hands, hear what a broader audience has to say about it.
Thanks for you time.
*The fine print: don’t just buy it and quickly return it, I’ll be able to tell from your order number. All refunds will be sent in an envelope, snail mail, and I can’t promise I won’t have wiped my nose with the bills.