For reasons which are not mine to speculate on, the Historical Novel Society is no longer undertaking indie book reviews at the current time
And a very dear friend of mine has suddenly become a Kindle bestseller.
It’s rather given me food for thought – because, you know, I’ve never achieved more than mid-list success (albeit consistently – that’s not a complaint!), the reviewers are not beating a path to my door, there’s no possibility of a Rosie film.
-There’s the distant possibility of A Cloak of Zeal making it to the silver screen, but that’s different.
The most successful, most widely-shared blog post I’ve ever written, even more so about the one about being mental, was about a bloody Royalist.
My publisher says I’m a good writer, but he’s not keen on the historical definition.
That’s what I am. That’s what I do.
My thing is the period 1608 to – currently – 1681. I know it, I occasionally live in it, I can tell you about it easier than I could tell you the Top 10 music charts. (Do we still have a Top 10? Is Dowland still in it?)
I like the 17th century. It is, if you like, my abiding fire.
I’ve done the research. I know people would rather read about the Napoleonic wars – which, frankly, bore the arse off me, line on line of regimented redcoats ordered about like toy soldiers – or medieval mayhem. And historical romance is where the bulk of the historical readers are, and God knows there’s precious little of that going on in my books, not in any traditional boy-meets-girl sense.
And yet I’m still stubbornly writing, and even more stubbornly selling books.
And I think that’s the thing. I love that people discover them – and I get, absolutely, that I am a niche thing and an acquired taste – and most of all I love that I have enough people buying my books that I can put fuel in the car and keep the cats in biscuits, but that I pretty much know my readers.
Not only demographically, but I can poke one and say – hey! Ms X! What do you actually think about…
I can put people’s dogs into my books – Tinners and Malley, they’re real, they were loved – and their people know.
I reach a lot of new readers on Twitter. I do use Twitter a lot.
I am, I think, one of the reenactment world’s writers of choice, especially the Parliamentarian end of the proceedings, because I know what it’s like doing the operational stuff, and they know it. (I’ve marched the march, for want of a better word.)
I’m in various wonderful supportive Facebook groups and we have a laugh and we cover each other’s backs but…not sure they sell books.
And on balance, I think that’s kind of okay.
I enjoy what I do, but although in my head I’d like to rock up to a book-signing and sell out, I’m not sure I actually would. I think not knowing my people – not being able to call my readers friends, even in the loosest Facebook-chums distant sense – would make me a bit sad. I think I’m happiest where I am: a plain russet-coated author who writes what she knows, and loves whereof she writes, than that which is a bestseller and nothing more.
And I think that, if anything, is what I’ve learned about writing. Know what it is you want to get out of your work – and be comfortable with it.