Paula asks (and answers) three questions!
Firstly: A couple of weeks ago, someone on FB was asking why the sales of her books were so low. Okay, I know, it’s a question many of us could ask! One of the replies suggested that she should look at the bestselling books on Amazon, and aim to write something similar to those.
My reaction: unless she’s a very fast writer, the ‘popular’ trends might have completely changed by the time her book is actually published, because people soon tire of the same kind of novel. Personally I go into ‘yawn mode’ when I see yet more books about ‘cosy cafes’ or, here in the UK at present, stories set in Cornwall (I blame Poldark for that!), and I’m not into ‘psychological thrillers.’ Yes, these may be current trends, but how long do these kinds of trends last?
Secondly, another author (again on FB) declared that she had read and enjoyed books about the music scene when she was a teenager, so decided to write her own series. This same author then said she’d enjoyed books by another author set in her own city, and so she decided to – yes, you’ve guessed it, write her own series set in that same city.
My reaction? Don’t you have any original ideas of your own, without having to ‘duplicate’ what other authors have written about?
Thirdly, yet another author declared that ‘if you like books by x, y, and z, you will love my book.’
My reaction: for one thing, it comes over as incredibly conceited to ‘compare’ yourself to bestselling authors. Also, if you need to ‘compare’ yourself to other writers, it doesn’t say much for your own originality.
So, what do we do? Follow the trends (albeit belatedly), write to a theme that has been successful for another author in the hope that it will be as successful for you, or try to gain readers by likening yourself to other authors?
My reaction: I couldn’t do any of these things. Or rather, yes, I probably could, but I wouldn’t want to. I can’t write to a ‘trend’ or a ‘theme’, and I certainly don’t try to imitate any other writer.
Maybe my novels don’t sell as well as stories about ‘cosy cafés in Cornwall’ are selling; maybe I’ll never reach the top ranks on Amazon; but I write the stories that I want to write, and I write them in my own style.