Thursday, August 8, 2013

Oh my gosh! It IS a murder mystery. And a bit of a western romance! And suspense. And action-adventure!

On finding the right audience for our books. . .

Dear friends,

Authors around the ‘nethood are conversing daily about how we can get our books into the hands of those readers who’ll love them and hopefully recommend them to their friends (no matter how they do that-—by tweeting, Facebooking, Goodreading, Google+ing, blogging or whatever.)

Did you think we just sit down, open up the laptop, and go?  Afraid not. I WISH we had the luxury of doing that. Writing is a business, and increasingly, a lot of our time is taken up with the promotional aspects of being an author. One thing we talk about a lot is finding the perfect audience for our book. The problem with that is that many of us write books that can be categorized in more than one genre.

My novel, Lone Star Death, for example, is basically a historical murder mystery, set in central Texas in the 1880s.

There is a murdered man (victim), a murderer, lots of suspects, a sleuth (Samantha Slater, the editor of the local newspaper), a method of murder (no spoilers!) and a sidekick (Tom Hill, her printer’s assistant).  I include several real places and people that lived in Austin during that time period, and researched the book for a year before sitting down to begin writing it. 
So, it’s a murder mystery, right? Well, yes, BUT, there’s also a whole lotta action/adventure. Think bush-whackings, a runaway horse, an overturned buggy,shootings—-you get the picture. So, my book is a murder mystery/action-adventure novel.
Most readers assume that anything written about Texas in the 1880s is a western. I have a wonderful, high-spirited horse, I have cowboys, a train station, a beautiful ranch, a rural small town outside Austin, a “house of ill repute” and the women who live there, market days, a school teacher with a great Victorian wardrobe, a general store, a great pearl-handled pistol, etc. And I’m eligible to join Western Writers of America based on this book. So, my book is a murder mystery, action adventure AND western.

And last, but not least, I have a love interest for Samantha—-Tom--who is plumb smitten with her, an older lady (mentor) who tries to nudge them into a relationship--and a handsome rival! (Ah yes, the doctor!) Not to mention the cowboy who’s impressed with Samantha’s horse riding ability. And, finally, there’s one of those happily-ever-after-moments (after the murder mystery is solved, of course). And there's the promise of a stronger future relationship.

Not to mention the nail-biting suspense. :-)

So—if you’re mostly a western romance book reader, would you give this book a chance?  If you like historical mysteries, would the fact that there’s also a bit of light romance turn you off?

Why all this analysis, you might ask?  Because, if I write another book in this series, it will be very important for me to position it for the right market.  And yes, some of those decisions come during the writing.

For now, I’m calling the book a historical murder mystery/western romance. And I hope readers who like "all of the above" will enjoy it.

Happy trails, and happy reading!

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