I recently read an article by author Heather Webb about learning from failure. It was a timely read for me as I have been dealing with my own commercial failure of my first non-Austenesque work, Surrendering the Past. Months have gone by and despite all my marketing attempts, as well as selling my soul to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, the book has just never gotten traction. I’ve reassured myself over and over that it will take time. This may be my fourth book, but I am a new author in this genre. The audience does not yet know me. That’s all well and good and does ring true, but after months of almost non-existent sales, it was time to step back and try to figure out what I did wrong. As it turns out, there was quite a lot.
First of all, I should not have used the same pen name. I had contemplated using a different name for my non-Austenesque writing quite a lot but in the end decided that since I was still writing Regency, continuing to use Pamela Lynne would be a good thing. The Janeites among us know how many true gems exist in the world of Jane Austen Fan Fiction, particularly from the years before the market became so flooded. The average reader, however, will see the words fan fiction and cringe. My also boughts (the line of books that show what customers who bought your book also bought) is full of fan fiction. Of course, it is. That’s what my first three books are. It’s what readers know Pamela Lynne for. Pamela Lynne is so much more than that but it’s basically the same as an actor being typecast. Once that is in a reader’s head, it’s hard to shake.
Another thing I did wrong was target the wrong audience. Surrendering the Past is a romance set in the Regency era, so my audience is Regency romance readers, right? WRONG. If you do an Amazon search for Regency romance, you will see what I mean. In the last year or so, it has pretty much all become seducing dukes and succumbing to earls. That’s great, I love seducing and succumbing as much as anybody, but that’s not what this series is. My conclusion is that these books need to be more #histfic than Regency romance, which leads me to my third mistake.
Stephen King advises writers to put their first draft away for a while before going back for revisions. I am starting to see the great merit in this way of thinking. If I had done that, I believe this shift into historical fiction would have occurred before publication. Against everything that is in my author’s blood, I bought into the less is more craze in romance and JAFF. My justification was that it was a series, so everything would develop over time. That still applies, but I can see now that there are things that need to be developed more in this first book. The first Outlander book is over six hundred pages, the first Poldark book is four hundred pages. If I am going to reach the level of artistic success that I crave as well as give the characters the story the deserve, I must delve back into Surrendering the Past and do what I should have done to begin with—give it all the time it needs.
For those who have read StP, the plot and ending will not change. I will be going deeper into the characters and their stories as well as adding more historical elements, but you will still be in a good place for book two. I have pulled the ebook and paperback from the market (the audiobook has to remain, but it will also be revised) and will re-release it when both it and Redeeming the Past are ready. That might take a while, but my desire for these books to be the best they can be will push me toward the finish line.
I want to thank all of you who have supported me in this transition to a new genre. It means a lot to have readers follow my work, no matter what the character names are. My husband recently suggested I take some time to write something just for fun. I have taken his advice and hope to turn this bit of a distraction into a fun treat for those who have given me encouragement while writing this series with their warm wishes, reads, and reviews. If you haven’t subscribed to my site, please do. I will be paying more attention to the blog and posting more about my writing process and progress over the next months. Also, check out our Vanity and Pride Press website for all the latest news from both me and Cat. Take care all and happy reading!