Writers who don’t listen to readers are idiots.
My delightful editor for the Bryant & May novels is concerned about what readers like, and concentrates of making the covers particularly gorgeous. There’s a hint of modernisation going on in my Bryant & May paperbacks at the moment, with the cleaned-up non-retro typeface – and although the publishers have had a couple of complaints about the change the feedback has generally been good.
But what do you think about branding it as ‘A Peculiar Crimes Unit investigation’? There’s still mention of the Old Gits on the back, of course. The thinking is to counteract negativity to the longevity of the series. Potential readers often ask me where to start with the books, and I tell them, ‘Not at the beginning’, simply because for me the beginning didn’t begin there at all. It began both earlier, and later. Earlier because Bryant & May made appearance in other novels before the series while I was test-driving them, and later because the series, per se, didn’t start until ‘The Water Room’. So when potential readers see the words ‘Bryant & May’ on the cover they must sometimes think, ‘Oh, I have to start zillions of books back’ and end up not bothering.
Okay, if I’d had my way the paperback would be out in time for Christmas, but the timing for both this and the hardback is always March. But we all listen carefully to what readers tell us. If you glance back through comments pages from the past decade here – apart from discovering the delightful voice of Dan Terrell – there are some wonderfully obtuse and mad comments (no names, no pack drill) and they often make very valid points which I’ve subsequently acted upon and incorporated.
This time I have a new problem to set before you.
It’s very hard to market a series like this is a way that attracts new readers. I usually give away a few books, and the publisher sends some out, and that’s about it. What can I do to publicise this one? Is there something ingenious I haven’t thought of? As you know, I’m pretty hands-on with this stuff and don’t mind schlepping books about – but maybe there’s a trick I’ve missed, or there’s a mad thought you’ve had. Whether it’s big or small, let me know. Writers who don’t listen to readers are idiots, or as my American-invasion-by-stealth spellcheck suggests, readers are Doritos, so my ears are wide open.