I've shared my plight with you in previous posts. An editor who wanted me to dummy down my writing for the millennials. Is it that I don't know my market or she doesn't? Stick with me ladies, there's more to my tale.
I'll never be a best seller out of the gate or after a long stroll. My books take awhile to build a following. But eventually, they do. I just got a gift card in the email for a restaurant from a reader who says she's read my books several times. I cried. My sales might not be fabulous, but my readers are. My publisher, however, wants instant success, a mercurial rise to the top of the ratings. With me, that's not happening.
For example, take my Black Eagle Ops series. Based on pre-orders of just over 120 for book one, my publisher had decided the series wouldn't do well. Book two had already been turned in, so they told me they wouldn't want book three unless they were surprised by sales. Shortly after that, I got an email from my editor that over 500 reviewers/readers had requested book one, HER SURVIVOR, on NetGalley and wasn't that awesome? I'd have close to 500 reviews. I just scoffed. What world does she live in? These people were looking for a free read, what reviews they do post are super low and downright nasty. My book released with 26 reviews. Where were the other 474? Sales have been poor and have just topped a thousand copies (would they be higher if 500 copies hadn't been given away on NetGalley?). Whatever. In my publisher's eyes, this series is a failure.
I need a book to fulfill my three-book contract. As I told you before, our flight home from granddaughter's wedding provided me with a story idea. I submitted it to the publisher. I was told to keep the plot thin. I did.
I was told to keep my humor down. I tried.
I was told to submit every chapter to my editor so she could see I was keeping on track. I bristled. Oh, ladies, I was mad as hades! I'm not some errant child to be constantly checked on.
After I'd sent in my sixth chapter, my editor called me. She and her superior didn't think I could write this book per their guidelines. What I'd written in her superior's words was "a parody of every erotic book out there with a hero that was a hoot!" NOW, I was in bitch mode. My jaws ached from keeping them closed. I wanted to voice my opinion so much, I'd kicked off my flip-flops, ready to do battle.
She continued, "We're doing you a dis-service by making you write in a different way. Your humor is your voice. But your humor doesn't work well in contemporaries where readers expect reality." I thought of my Wild Heat series with another publisher that's doing fairly well, even with my off-the-wall sense of humor...and kept my big mouth shut.
"We'd like you to write more bear shifters. We checked your numbers and were shocked. You've sold over twenty thousand of each book in the series. Your sales are slow, but steady. You've got a following there. Besides, in paranormal romance you don't have rules to follow. Your humor fits that sub-genre."
I was thrilled! I could keep Effie alive, my readers' favorite character. I'd always planned for Highlanders Beloved to be a longer series. I had my heroes already in place. My ear may have been pressed to the phone, but my mind was racing ahead with plotting and planning.
I submitted my vision for the series and four paragraphs about each book as requested. It was approved, although the titles were changed. So, I'm working on chapter one of SHIFTERS OF SONAS ISLE: Kendric. Now Kendric was a police detective in the original series and will be a law enforcement officer in this series, as well--a sheriff. So, knowing I can't use Effie or many side characters...hehehe....well an idea occurred. A sheriff needs a deputy. Right? Right! Enter Arlo Rogers, the Highland version of Barney Fife. Have I got a lot planned for this American character with an eye for any sway of a skirt.