On writing "to market"

I’m going to get a little controversial up in here for a sec, so if you want kittens and rainbows, keep on scrolling.

All right then ...

Authors are being told that in order to be successful and make money, we need to “write to market.” My problem with this advice is that our market fucking sucks right now. It has been highjacked by the bookstuffers and scam artists who largely convinced Amazon buyers that romance novels—regardless of category—were sex fests featuring grunting alphaholes who needed to breed virgins in their mountaintop cabin.* Oh! And these books should also be way over 400 pages and cost less than a dollar. I don’t know about other authors, but that’s not why I started writing. 

But instead of trying to take back the market, many authors are continuing to flood Amazon with books that match the tropes set forth by the Chance Carters and Cassandra Dees of the world. They may be gone, but their legacy lives on. 

Blurbs that may as well read like this are still being held up as the ideal by gurus and experts:

I’m a fuck machine. 
She’s a Virgin.
I shouldn’t want her but I do.
And she will be mine.
I always get what I want.
And that’s to fuck her.

This, my friends, is what I call the grunting alphahole blurb.

Obviously, I’m joking here ... except not really. The advice is to stick to super short sentences with lots of white space. Also, don’t tell the reader what the book is actually about. And you have to make it from the alphahole’s POV (because let’s be honest, the heroines are just cookie cutter stereotypes there for the guys to knock up—their stories aren’t important). And don’t forget to play up the sex. Always talk about how he can’t wait to tap that ass.

I get it. Sex in books is fun. I love reading a sexy tale. Hell, I love writing them. But that blurb above? That book above? Nope.

I want to write smart, complicated women who fall in love with men who are unlikely partners for them. I want to study the human condition and all the paths men and women (or men and men and women and women) can take to fall in love. 

But I’m going to be honest: it’s fucking hard to get a foothold and build a fan base when that’s what the market has grown to expect. True story: I sent out my newsletter with a cover reveal and a pre-order link and was told by a few subscribers they’d stopped buying my books because they cost too much. Apparently, $3 is too much to pay a writer who has spent months of their life chained to her desk writing a good book and then paying for professional editing. (Thankfully I do my own covers, or else you could add hundreds on top of what I already spend.) I tried not to seethe reading those responses, but then another subscriber complained that my newsletter used to offer freebies and since I haven’t done that in months, they were unsubscribing. This is what our market has become. This is how a vast number of readers have been trained.

And I’m sorry, but ain’t nobody got time for that. 

So to hell with writing to market. 

I’m going to keep telling the stories I need to tell, at a pace that doesn’t run me ragged, with blurbs that feature full sentences *and* the heroine’s story, while pricing them at least at $3.99. This means I probably won’t put out as many books a year. It means that I won’t be guilted into giving my work away fo free. It means that when people ask for recommendations, I’m going to tell them about folks like Sarina Bowen, Melanie Harlow, and Penny Reid— wonderful authors who write with heart and soul and have managed to carve out a successful niche fo themselves. They’re the authors I want to strive to be like, not these flash-in-the-pan fraudsters who’ve ruined a really great thing. 

And with that, I’m stepping down off my soapbox. 


*Example of text from one of these books: “I’m claiming you as mine. Right now," And then he impaled me on his big, throbbing cock, tearing my himen in two.

Yes, hyman was spelled wrong and the comma after “right now” should have been a period. See? No editing.