When Your Audience Won’t Jump with You

John Travolta in some movie

I think I should apologize for all these series posts that I’ve been doing for the last two weeks.  I promise that I’ve got a ‘Ye Olde Shoppe’ coming on Friday, so just hold out for a little longer.  There’s just been a lot on my mind in regards to writing and how things have gone for me.  Of course, my mind eventually came down to the audience I’ve gained with my books and an old tip that I was given when I started.

Back when I began, I was told by several people that I should develop my audience for fantasy and that these readers would follow me anywhere.  Maybe I misunderstood, but I haven’t found that to be the case.  First of all, I’ve learned that a lot of people are fans of saying ‘I don’t really read fantasy, but good job’ and they stuck around my blog without supporting the writing.  Not a horrible thing since my posts need love too, but the money comes from book sales.  Other people bought the books without reading, reviewing, or passing on the word, which is their choice.  I’ve been told by some that they wouldn’t start reading until the entire Legends of Windemere series was out.  No problem there because that’s still interest and I can’t blame them considering what happened with ‘Wheel of Time’ and ‘Game of Thrones’.  Eventually, I did gain a fan following that made me feel like I had made it to the next level of being an author.  Time to put that theory to the test, which resulted in . . .

Crossing Bedlam and a lot of crickets.  Things got strange here because I had a lot of praise for the idea and the cover.  Once the book came out, people started telling me that the genre wasn’t for them or they thought the cover was too cartoon-like.  Keep in mind that I spent a lot of time trying to get input and felt like I was on the right track.  Now, the cover thing aside, I was shocked to find that the theory had failed.  Most of my fantasy fans didn’t care about Cassidy and Lloyd even though I wrote it.  So, I hadn’t actually hit that level where fans will follow you everywhere.  The Life & Times of Ichabod Brooks didn’t fare much better too, which was odd because that was fantasy.  I’ve noticed that many people have walked away now that Legends of Windemere is done and War of Nytefall isn’t drawing them back.  This could be a few reasons:

  1. I’ve been told that people aren’t into vampire stories.  While Clyde and the others are vampires, they are still in Windemere.  I would say that this is more fantasy than vampire too.  Them being vampires defines the world, stakes (ouch on the pun), and other aspects of the world, but not the overall story.  Much of this stems from what people think when vampires are brought up, so they already assume a lot of what’s going to happen.  Uphill battle already.
  2. People may have been more interested in the characters of Legends of Windemere than the story, the world, or me.  Once Luke Callindor, Nyx, and Fizzle retired, they went off to look for something else.  People kept asking me to do give stories to the other characters instead of letting me move on to another idea.  So, the audience I developed could have been much more nuanced and specific than I realized.  This is great for a series, but not when you want to move on to another project.
  3. Readers might have been burnt out on me.  I was releasing 3 books of my series every year, so I could have pushed myself too much.  Be nice to think readers simply needed a break and will give my new series a try, but it isn’t looking that way.  Maybe I should figure out how to get a new banner for the blog to say ‘War of Nytefall’.  Not sure how that factors in.

So, I’m not sure what to think about the idea that fans will always follow an author.  I do see it with some indies, but they don’t really step that far outside of their genre.  I don’t feel like I’ve gone too far with War of Nytefall since the Dawn Fangs were around in Legends of Windemere.  Yet, it could be just enough that readers don’t want to follow, which puts me back to square one.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m very thankful for everyone who has followed me on each of my adventures.  That foundation of support has kept me going even during this rough patch.  My concern is more about how one can maintain momentum between series if the majority of the audience isn’t willing to make that jump.  How does an indie author begin anew while still holding onto what came beforehand?  I’ve seen some authors make a pen name for each series/genre, but most of my work is in Windemere.  People will probably figure out it’s me once they see the blurb mentioning the world or anything that came from one of my other series.

Maybe I’m talking out of frustration because I feel like I’ve tried everything that is within my power.  I’ve battered my head against the wall to make it as an author, but the engine ran out of steam without me realizing it.  No matter how much coal and water I put in there, it won’t help much if I don’t have many passengers.  Is this analogy still working?  I should probably stop now.  Man, these posts have been long.  Really sorry about that.  I promise humor on Friday.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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43 Responses to When Your Audience Won’t Jump with You

  1. I think you should write what you want and quit worrying about your audience and sales. I know that sounds like really dumb advice but you are going to work yourself into a no writing position. Your strength is your imagination and how it is put to a story. Don’t abandon that chasing an audience.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. L. Marie says:

    I love what John said. I couldn’t have said it better. I’m sorry that this has been such a frustrating experience. It doesn’t help when people speak negatively about your writing to your face. It’s evident that you love your characters and your stories. I know it seems easy to say, “Keep writing.” But I’m taking my own advice here.

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    • I think a big part of my frustration does come from people cheering for a new book and then the sales show that most didn’t buy. So, it leaves me wondering what happened. It’s like there are a lot of people who will be cheerleaders and then walk away once the final step (buying) comes about. Eventually, the author stops believing much of the excitement when it happens so often.

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. Marie says:

        Okay. Yes, I see your point. Your audience seemed to say, “Yeah go for it! We’re with you!” Then they bailed. My question to you is, What do you want to do? I get having to support yourself. I’m in that boat. But do you want to write? If so, what do you want to write? What gives you joy when you write? People will give you 100 different opinions on what you should write. Some won’t put their money where their mouth is.

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      • Here’s the thing: As important as those questions are, they’re kind of moot at a point. I can write what I want and just fade away from here to keep my stories to myself. It’s not what I want, but that’s how one could answer the specific question. I would want to make a career out of this, but that can’t happen without an audience. If I can’t retain my audience then I have to decide on things. Do I write only for myself and give up publishing? Do I jump on a trend? Do I keep putting money into promos even though they aren’t working? I’ve been saying from the start that an author needs a stable support system to succeed. That gets undermined if the majority of the system cheers and only cheers. Not even just sales, but telling other people. Many ignore an author promoting their own work because it’s part of the job and they have to say such things. Someone else doing it has impact, which is why reviews are essential. All of this goes beyond the ‘personal desire’ questions because they’re the next stage.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. People are just guessing at things. It’s a combination of being the right thing, to the right people, at the right time. I’m sorry it hasn’t worked out — so far. But the weird thing about social media and books are that things that are 2 or 50 years old can suddenly go viral.

    Best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nothing to apologize for. We discussed adding a slice of life to your blogging years ago. I think it helps with your regulars and will draw more. My problems are your problems, but on a smaller scale. I have a handful of super supporters who’ve read everything I’ve ever written. Others are game, on a case by case basis. We still have to write something that interests them. I’m on John’s team here. Write what you feel. I knew an audience for baseball stories would be small, but I wrote them anyway. If your heart isn’t into a story that will show in the result. I’m now toying with the idea of writing my first series, and am seeing the larger size of your concern. You still have to follow your heart. Don’t write cute romance tales just because the market favors them. (Even if they’re vampires.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • The challenge I’ve always had with a slice of life beyond the goal posts is that most people over here refuse to be mentioned. I used to do it and I’d keep getting complaints from family and friends.

      As much as I agree with the ‘write what you feel’ idea, I will admit that it’s frustrating to get support then lose it. This is more about faith from others than in myself because I can’t be a success without an audience. How can I tell if a promo works when it got a great response in everything except sales? Do I try it again or give it up? A lot of promos I spent money on got people talking, but not paying. I dropped those and then people stopped talking. The audience didn’t carry over to the actual book or the new series, which is at the core of this post. I can write what I love and have faith in myself, but that doesn’t seem to be enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, and the movie is Pulp Fiction.

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  6. C.E.Robinson says:

    Charles, I agree with John too! The more you chase your audience the more frustrated you will be. Concentrate on writing and just put it out there! I‘m still following you, even though I’m not a fan of fantasy. I like how you write & what you have to say about writing! I’m a supporter of you! 📚🎶 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. Though, isn’t promoting about chasing your audience? I can talk about writing all day, but it really doesn’t help if the books don’t sell too. Eventually, I have to stop and pay the bills. That’s why I’m in a situation where writing is going to be extremely difficult. Since last July, I’ve written only one new chapter and that was over this weekend. It’s going to be like that for the foreseeable future if not worse. I’m even in a position where I have to choose between writing and blogging. So, all of this might end one day when I simply can’t afford to do it. This is why authors talk about needing sales so much. If you don’t have those then you can’t continue unless you have another source of income and the free time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • C.E.Robinson says:

        Charles, I agree with all that you say! I think authors do need another source of income to cover any slump in sales. It’s not the best solution though for a writer who only wants to write. I’ve just been told, don’t think you can make a living writing books! You’ll be a starving author! I’d go with how to make adjustments, balancing writing (your passion) & work (your salvation). I understand your struggle even though I’m coming from a very different stage & age in life. A full time writer with a retirement income, and three WIPs in the works! 📚🎶 Christine

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      • This is kind of why I’ve felt like an oddity for the last 5-6 years. Nearly every other author I met were either retired with savings or had a main job. I didn’t have either, so I depended a lot on retaining and enlarging my audience. It just didn’t work out and now I’m scrambling to put things back together.

        Liked by 1 person

      • C.E.Robinson says:

        Charles, not all is lost in your scrambling to put things back together. You have an excellent track record as a prolific author. It’s time to make adjustments for that “balance.” Good thoughts & positive energy going forward! 📚🎶 Christine

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      • My time as a prolific author is really at an end. I can’t keep up even a quarter of that pace while working and parenting. Those two have to come first.

        Liked by 1 person

      • C.E.Robinson says:

        Keep the balance, Charles. Your time as a “writer” is not at an end. It’s just cut back for now. You’re young, you’ve got “time” on your side. 😊🎶📚

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      • I’m not as young as people think. Not when I still have around 70 other books planned out. Can’t really get to them all if I wait until my golden years. That’s if retirement is still a thing in the future too.

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  7. I haven’t read your book yet, but one thing that I have noticed is the uptick in folks who choose to listen to books over Audible (bluetooth headphones becoming more and more popular as well) instead of reading on Kindle/Paperback. It’s revolutionizing how we receive information, with sites like YouTube and podcasts becoming the norm rather than the opposite.

    From what I have heard and seen, Audible is a great way to get more ‘casual’ readers into your novel, especially when you run advertisements or can blast it on social media. It may not be a complete solution but it’s definitely worth considering. Cheers!

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  8. You’ll have some loyal readers who’ll follow you anywhere, but not everyone will. All you can do is write the books, make them available in as many places as possible, and hope for the best. At least, that’s how it seems to me these days.

    Also, I saw the thing in the comments about you thinking it costs for Audible… It can, but not if you do royalty share via ACX. You’ll need square versions of your covers (easily achieved) but other than that it’s only time involved from your point of view. I’m actually in the process of finishing getting my backlist available in audio at the moment. Trust me, I wouldn’t have managed to get this far with doing so if it cost (if you’ve seen my list of titles, you’ll understand why I say that).

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    • What is the royalty share exactly? I mean, I get the concept, but wonder about the split. Also, do they ask you about pronunciations? I know fantasy has an issue with audiobooks due to people not always getting the words right. For example, a common issue for me is people putting an ‘r’ in the middle of Windemere.

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      • It’s a 50/50 split. If you pay for production, you get 40% of the royalties. If you do royalty share, you each get 20%. It’s not a huge amount of royalties, I know, but every little helps.

        Yes, they ask about things like that. You’re in contact with the narrators directly yourself from when you take auditions, and can talk to them about pronounciation, and anything else that’s important for them to know. You also get a chance to correct things if you aren’t happy with how they’ve done things (although, if you give them plenty of directions for anything that matters – like proper pronounciations – from the start, you may not even need to make use of the “request changes” option).

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      • So, it seems like you don’t get much here in terms of royalties. Do you see that people buy the non-audio book or review after getting the audiobook?

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      • True, the royalties aren’t great, but every little helps.

        Reviews are still few and far between. As for the sales thing… Most people don’t buy more than one version. There are people who prefer audio books though, or find them easiest for reading.

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  9. If you want to know more about it, feel free to shoot me an eMail. I can’t promise to have all the answers, but I’ll try to answer any questions you might have.

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  10. Pingback: Surviving a Whirlwind Week | Legends of Windemere

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