I now have a name for my marketing problem as an author. It is the “betwixt and between” problem.
I recently received this rejection of a biography I’ve been trying to sell: ” It is well researched, and it does have the elements… But while I think the premise has merit, I am concerned the book falls betwixt and between…in its positioning.”
Betwixt and between.
Betwixt and between is where most of my books fall.
My novels tend to land squarely betwixt. Identity Theft is more literary than a romantic comedy, more narrative and accessible than experimental fiction, more humorous than a thriller and more philosophical than a comedy.
I once tried to explain my thoughts about the book’s more philosophical themes to a potential agent. He had read the first three chapters and deemed it a romantic comedy. He liked what he had read, and thought he could make the book a hit. He had strong ideas about how it should be structured and when I explained my thinking– why I wanted to go a bit betwixt and a bit between– he literally laughed out loud. “Do you think you’re (name of some artsy literary writer)?”
I said, “No.”
What I should have said is, “No, I think I’m Laura Lee.”
My first novel Angel was about a Christian minister whose worldview is challenged when he falls in love with another man. In the words of one publishing pro it was “too gay for the Christians and too Christian for the gays.”
There is a niche for the experimental and edgy. There are books that get labeled high art. Mine do not follow their conventions. They are too “accessible.” (I personally think this is a good thing.) Yet they are also more philosophical and literary than mainstream popular fiction is often expected to be.
Is “betwixt and between” really a problem– or can it be my strength? Can “betwixt and between” be my calling card, my brand?
Independent publishing and crowd funding have given the power back to you, the readers. You have the power.
It is not up to the gatekeepers any more to tell us which stories are worth hearing and which fall betwixt and between their marketing niches.
Something is happening.
We can decide for ourselves, beyond the marketing machine, what stories we value, what we want to write, read and share.
But self-publishing is not easy. There are many pitfalls along the way. Sometimes it feels like pulling a boulder up hill with a rope.
Let me tell you about two of the stumbles I have encountered using the literary crowdfunging site Pubslush. I chose Pubslush because the site said it had a niche audience of enthusiastic readers looking for new literary projects to support. In fact, I have seen no evidence of this. Although my Identity Theft campaign took off with more enthusiasm than I imagined, all of it came from people in my own social circle. Unlike Kickstarter where there really is an audience of enthusiastic people looking for projects to back, Pubslush is a bring your own crowd platform.
The second problem is that Pubslush gives authors an opportunity to chose a goal– the amount they feel they need to do the project well– and also a lower minimum goal. The idea with the minimum goal is that you don’t run into that problem with Kickstarter where you’re $50 short and lose all of the backing. With Pubslush you can say “if I get less than X it is not worth doing the project” and set that as a minimum goal. So if you reach that, you get that funding. I set a minimum that was half of what I hoped to get.
Once the minimum was hit Pubslush sent out e-mails to all the backers saying my project was successful. I had been building a regular stream of support,but the moment that happened it nearly ground to a halt. Yes, I have passed the threshold where it is worth doing– but the project is only 61% of the way towards its goal. It still has a ways go to. Don’t stop now, please!
We are creating a new world in publishing. New worlds are not created easily. But remember that you, gentle readers, have the power. You decide who will write your stories, who will succeed, who will fail.
There are only three days to go to fund Identity Theft. Only three.
Please strike a blow for all of those who fall somewhere betwixt and between.
Follow this link. Go to Pubslush and support this project.
For the cost of a book you can be part of a book’s creation.
You have the power to make it happen. Become part of the Identity Theft team.