Before any of my readers express concern about my injuring myself by patting myself too roughly on the back, this column is not in any way boasting about my literary prowess. Even though it may sound like that.
No, this is an attempt to answer a question that’s puzzled me for at least five years. Namely, how could an unknown writer with no publicity, no contacts in publishing, no media reviews, relatively few reviews of any kind, self published, no paid advertising, almost no cheap or free advertising, complete ignorance of virtually all the technical bells and whistles of Internet advising, almost NO use of social media, possibly have attracted the interest and loyalty of thousands of readers who aren’t related to me by blood or marriage.
Add to those negative factors, the subject matter which fits uncomfortably in established genres. It’s not erotica, although it has sex and rough language. Erotica is fiction ABOUT sex, designed to arouse sexual desires. My work – whatever else it might be – is not designed to arouse sexual desires and while sex is present, it’s not the major element. It has courtroom action, but it’s not about that – or only about that. It has crime ranging from murder to fairly rough sexual assault, necrophilia, mercy killing, drug dealing on the local, state and international level, racial tensions and murders and the international sex trade. But it is not a crime novel. It’s about divorce and marriage and state politics, but not just about those things.
Okay, you might say, but you haven’t seen my name on any best seller lists, no movies have been announced. How can I say readers love my writing?
From time to time Smashwords and other sites release stats on the typical sales and income for the average reader. It’s fairly common knowledge that the average Indie just putting a novel out with no advance push may sell 100 or 200 books. In my case the figures are several thousand copies and while the average sales may be only 50 or 100 a month, they continue to sell.
And more importantly, two years after the last book was published under DQS or short story as well and no communication with readers, each week brings in emails wondering when the next DQS work will be released. They come from the US, Canada, Europe, South America. Everything I’ve read tells me the key to keep readership is not to let them forget about you. Publish something every year, if not more often.
I just released a newsletter this month and the response has staggered me. I really was afraid the newsletter would out in a giant explosion of silence and there would be only the faint sounds of crickets in the night as my name and work were simply forgotten.
And as importantly,while there are a lot of writers who have faithful readers, I don’t have readers who just drop a line and say ‘I liked your latest book,” My readers are more likely to either send me a two page critique of the characters and the plot, or if they hate something, they will unload on me. Bad or good, they care enough to act on their feelings. I don’t know that there is any praise greater than that for any writer.
So, how come?
I had an idea and that was going to be my next post, but this applies more directly. I’m still going to write a post explaining exactly WHAT it is, I write. But this one is WHY my writing has touched a nerve. Today I read http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/is-it-ok-for-men-to-feel-sad and I think it explains why my writing appeals to certain readers.
This intriguing and eye-opening post explains that men can’t cry, can’t show fear, can’t feel or express any deeper emotion. This is a fact that every man – from 25 to 85 – knows in their gut. You can’t express helplessness, even when you’re in a corner and you can’t ask for help. Don’t listen to Millennial crap about women wanting you to share your deepest feelings and fears. Do that and I promise you have a 20 percent or lesser chance of ever getting laid unless you move far away. And try explaining to your wife that you’ve quit your $50,000 a year a job because the soul-sucking routine was killing your soul.
So, if men can’t cry, can’t grieve, can’t communicate any deep emotions, can’t form any attachments outside the bedroom, what purpose do they serve? If you answer a paycheck and sperm, you might be cynical, but would many women in a group away from men argue the point too strenuously.
So why do readers love my writing? Perhaps because my men are not automatons with genitalia. My men – if they don’t cry – at least mourn and they hurt. They wrestle with rejection and depression and betrayal. They don’t walk away from marriages with the main thought in their head that now they can sample new stuff. They love their children and will fight as hard for them as any mother. They love women long beyond the point they should kick their cheating asses out.
So that’s why men love my writing. There aren’t many places in modern literature or culture where a man can find his humanity recognized. Where they are allowed weakness and courage in the face of defeat and humiliation
And female readers? Of which there are a number. Perhaps it’s heartening to realize that despite 50 years of feminist propaganda, there are still decent men. And perhaps they can appreiciate reading about women who make mistakes, terrible mistakes, but remain as fallible and human as any man.
Anyway, those are the reasons I think my readers love my writing. I’d be interested to hear any other opinions.