So many authors don’t realize the impact of going smaller. In an effort to try and reach everyone under the sun we often try and make a generic pitch that will have broad appeal. Our initial instinct is that everyone will love our newest book and so it ought to be pitched so that everyone will find it accessible.
That’s the wrong mindset. We are naturally led to do it because our books are our babies and no parent can imagine that their child might not be everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve met a lot of kids. Many of them are little crapheads who I’d love to see suffer a few days at military academy. Just like there’s a lot of little dicks running around whose parents praise them, there are a lot of bad books. But there are also kids who are just different. Some adults would love to coach little league—others would rather tutor kids who focus on band or theater. Kids aren’t one size fits all and neither are books. When we try to make kids uniform we strip them of what makes them unique. The same goes for books—if you water down things like genre distinctions in order to give it a broader audience you will only succeed in turning off a larger audience with a book that no longer fits anywhere.
I see it all the time as a book reviewer. People know I like sci-fi and so I get many authors trying to squish a literary fiction tale into a sci-fi mold (yes… SF is broad, but a modern romance tale about two lovers texting their feelings to each other via iphone would’ve been sci-fi fifty years ago by the same metric.) Don’t make your book into something it’s not. Two gushing five star reviews will get you better results than fifty three star reviews that cumulatively say “meh…it’s okay, I guess.”
I heard a promotion idea a while back I’m trying to embrace. I can’t remember where I heard it… probably overheard at some writer’s workshop I attended. “It’s better to have one or two people who absolutely love your book and will tell everyone that they’ve got to read it than having a hundred people who thought it was merely okay. Find those two people.”
There’s a good article over at the MCB Blog about the power of Word of Mouth that sums this up, so go check it out. Stop watering down your book. Let it stand for what it is—even if it means there’s a seemingly smaller readership.
Don’t advertise broader—advertise better. People cross genre boundaries for a personal recommendation.