What I learned in 2017 part 2: It really IS about the book #writetip

When authors ask “what can I do to promote my book?” publishing industry professionals often reply, “write a good book.”

It’s easy to dismiss that advice as trite. Of course, you should write a good book! What ELSE can an author do? Because, really, what are the odds a reader will stumble upon  your “good book” out of the millions published if you don’t promote? Uh, like none? Authors have to promote if they want to sell.

But the simple truth is, some books are more popular than others. Some stories, characters, genres, tropes resonate with readers more than others.  You promote book A, and it takes off like a rocket. You apply the same degree of promotional effort to book B….and sales fizzle like yesterday’s soda.

Lesson No. 2: It really is about the book.

None of my Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance cyborg books (there are five) have done as well as my two alien series  (Alien Mate and Breeder). After a disappointing lackluster release with Claimed by Cyborg (Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance 5) in January 2017, I specifically  set out to write for the market. I analyzed what was selling, and it seemed like alien mail order bride stories were trending. So I wrote one, and titled it accordingly. Winner, winner chicken dinner! Alien Mate became my second best selling book ever. It has the potential to outdo Breeder.

For some reason, this book resonated with people in a way that the cyborg books didn’t.

GooglePlay had been closed to new author contracts. Google contacted me with an offer of GP contract because they wanted Alien Mate for their store.

I’d submitted the various Cy-Ops books to BookBub 20 times, and got shot down every single time. Alien Mate got accepted on the first submission  and Breeder  on the second.

Financially, I had a very, very good year, but it all came down to two books: Breeder and Alien Mate.

My promotional efforts were the same. I worked my ass off for all three series. But readers like aliens better. I’d always suspected–given that there are more alien romances than cyborg romances–but I got to see it in green (the color of money) this year.

The book really does matter. You can do everything “right” promotion wise, but results will vary depending on the book. Even with a series, specific books will outsell the others.

The market has spoken.

Coming next week: Lesson three – follow the crowd…except when you don’t

Last week’s lesson one: Get your ducks in a row

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4 Responses to What I learned in 2017 part 2: It really IS about the book #writetip

  1. Gill says:

    Oh dear, I’m surprised by this, I actually prefer the cyborg books. Hope this doesn’t portend the end! The one thing that I do ask myself though, is if these cyborgs are more or less eternal, how does that affect their mates?

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I’m glad you like cyborgs. I like them too. I’ll publish two cyborg books in 2018: Hunted by the Cyborg, and Rescued by the Cyborg. But then, I’m going to shift to aliens and work on my Alien Mate series.

  2. Tasha Black says:

    It’s great that you were able to spot a fun trend you wanted to write about and the homework paid off! Giving readers the adventure they actually want is the best part of this job!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      You have to give the market what it wants. Remember New Coke? People didn’t want New Coke, they wanted their old Coca Cola.

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