Regrets, I have a few…

writer memeI 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!

10 thoughts on “Regrets, I have a few…

  1. Oh Pamela, I’m so sorry your book didn’t do as well as it deserved. I loved it even without Darcy and Elizabeth 😉
    It’s a problem ‘re the name I suppose, I usually only buy D & E books so I possibly wouldn’t have checked it out if I didn’t know the name and the fact that I love your other books to be honest. But readers, who are looking for a bit of regency romance with great characters and a wonderful storyline rather than the usual bodice rippers that seem to come up on that search, would really appreciate this series I think.
    Good luck with it and I look forward to RtP when you are ready 😊

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  2. It is a very smart author/ or person that can backup,,, evaluate and proceed again. I salute you and will stand by you as the dust/sand settles and a new and improved author emerges. Well done and a very calculated move on your part. I have StP on my bookshelf… when I looked… I discovered that I had labeled it HR because I didn’t know what it was. I was not clear on the difference between Historical and Regency Romance books. Wow… I do see your point about the seducing and succumbing part. No wonder I was confused. I purchased this last year… to support you as you branched out from JAFF. I will continue to do that in your new endeavor. I am patient and will be here when you are ready to launch a new and improved produce. I have a large TBR pile and had not read StP yet. I think it would be best if I wait for the new and improved version. Blessings on your future writing and if you choose a new pen-name, let us know so we can look for you in the stacks. Have a blessed day.

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    • Thanks J.W. I should have mentioned in the post that I will replace anyone’s copy who wants it and can show me they purchased the first edition. When it comes out I’ll shoot you a message and you the updated file. Thanks so much!

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  3. I LOVE this post, Pamela. LOVE IT!!! Thank you for being bold, my friend.

    Recently I read a FB thread on mixing genres with the same name. The big names in romance said, “Don’t do it under the same pen name.” Why? You confuse readers. They see the name and buy with one click expecting what they are used to reading from you. When they find out it’s different, they often feel like they have been fooled or misled, despite the quality of the new book. It’s a shame, really, but the reality is the numbers and fan loss is there.

    I adored Surrendering. I wouldn’t want anything changed. However, I admit I’m a classic JAFF reader who is used to the quick impact with no need for background info. After all, we’ve read P&P how many times? I’d never considered how this would affect the writing of Historical Fiction. Smart.

    It’s good you aren’t abandoning the series, Pam. I yearn to find out what happens. Two thumbs up for learning patience and the art of writing outside JAFF. One day this will be me too.

    Big HUGS to you and yours.

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    • Unfortunately, at this point I think I’m stuck. I want the readers who enjoyed Surrendering to still find me when the series continues, so Pamela Lynne must remain. I think my best option now is to not publish any more JAFF under that name, or if I do, not publish it on Amazon. You are right about the difference in writing JAFF vs non-JAFF. We already have a relationship with D&E; we know them. Writing Austenesque is in no way easy, but we do at least have that emotional connection already established. That’s what makes it so easy to binge. This life is all about learning, right? Thanks for the support!

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  4. So glad you are pushing through these difficulties. Who knew the many intricacies of publishing could be so difficult! As you know, I love ‘Surrendering the Past’ and am looking forward to ‘Redeeming the Past’. I love historical romances, so to know you are revising StP to include more historical details and further depth can only add to an already great book. So onward and upward and when you are ready to release more of the Granville Legacy, I will be there to read it…and any other tempting morsels you write!

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  5. Pamela, I am so sorry that you have had difficulties with Surrendering the Past. I love it as I do all of your books. I admire you greatly for stepping back and looking at how to change it. That takes great courage. I know I will buy and read what you write, Take care.

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  6. I actually have Surrendering the Past on my kindle. I just haven’t made it around to reading it. I guess now I should wait until the revised version comes out to read it? I’m sorry though that it didn’t take well when it was released.

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  7. Pamela first of all I must tell you that Dearest Friends and Family Portraits are two of my favourite books that I have gone back and read many a time after a bad week. As to Surrendering the Past in Britain we use to have a Lord Lichfield who was a famous photographer of the Royal family and I found his face popping into my head as I was reading. I am sorry that you have felt that you have had to withdraw the book and will look forward to reading your revised edition.

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