KKR made a brief comment on her May reading list post that dovetailed nicely with a comment I’d made recently in a writer’s group about releases and that also fits with my current reading list.
Basically, the comment was about how people don’t always read a book when it’s released, they read it when they find out about it.
That can be years after a book was written and published, assuming it’s still available to be read in some way, shape, or form.
For example, I’m currently reading the entire J.D. Robb In Death series. I’m about halfway through. The first book in that series was published decades ago. But for me it’s a new series that I’m racing my way through. My mom happened to mention it for the umpteenth time (she buys the new releases as soon as they come out in hard cover) and I said, “Oh, let me try it. I’ll borrow the first one from you next time I see you.” Twenty-some books later I’m still enjoying it.
I had the same thing happen with Robin Hobb. I didn’t start reading her until she’d published three trilogies in that story world.
Which is why I sometimes find the self-publisher and trade publishing focus on strong launches so interesting. I get it. The odds of having a book that stands the test of time and gets word of mouth referrals are higher the better a book launches, especially with Amazon’s built-in bias for rewarding success with more success.
But there are so many books that have done well later as people started to read them and recommend them to one another.
I always think of Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft as a perfect example of this sort of thing. That series didn’t do well until he submitted it to the SPFBO. One of the fifty best fantasy novels I’ve read, but it was languishing in triple-digit ratings for a couple years before it got its break.
That doesn’t mean every book that doesn’t sell well right away is some work of genius, of course. Odds are more often on the side of a book not being that great. But if you have faith in what you wrote, don’t give up just because you weren’t instantly amazingly successful. Keep working it. You never know.
(I say with hope as I have two Bookbubs on two separate series coming up this month…)