Being more exciting


cover of The Kestral Voyages: My Life, After BerserkerWhat… me?  Perish the thought.  No, I’m trying to make my books sound more exciting.  I’ve recently edited the blurbs for two of my novels, Sarcology and My Life, After Berserker, to see if a more exciting description will help sales.

This notion came to me after a Facebook discussion with author James Moclair, who met with two prospective customers for his new book… but apparently, the customers were deterred from buying by the fact that he, in his mid-sixties, seemed to them to be “too old to be a science fiction writer.”

When he started the discussion, I suggested that if he was worried about putting off customers, he might consider being less of a “seen” author, and working harder to promote samples of his content, to draw readers with his content, not him.

Steve Headroom

My Steve Headroom phase.

I also suggested a more caricatured headshot, to throw off opinions about age.  Yes.  I did this.

Seriously, I’m sure there’s no reason he can’t write material that appeals to younger readers.  Rowling isn’t exactly fresh out of high school.  But I never stopped to consider that the readers themselves might think that the stories they want can’t be written by older people.

Which makes me wonder what kind of science fiction they want to read.  Are they looking for book versions of Final Fantasy, Bioshock and Thundercats?  Light sci-fi, with lightsaber battles and goofy aliens all speaking English?  (Hmm… seems that subject’s come up before…)  Have they decided that the only writers who “get them” are young’uns like themselves… and that writers of our generation are only good for tired scientific treatises and quantum physics lessons?

First the grey hairs, and now this…

My lackluster sales have forced me to reconsider my work, and my efforts to promote it, for… my God, over a year now.  And now, I have to add to the ever-growing list of What I’m Doing Wrong the possibility that I’m simply writing for a science fiction reader that no longer exists… that if I want to be successful, I need to be writing lighter sci-fi fare for a 20-something audience.  Less cerebral… more exciting.

The signs are there.  The popular sci-fi movies follow the more exciting, less intellectual path.  J.J. Abrams turns Star Trek into Star Wars, and the box office eats it up.  The Planet of the Apes franchise is doing gangbusters, and it’s never been more than a weird visual concept made cinematic by Rod Serling, with no science fiction veracity to it at all.  How many Harry Potter movies were there?  How long has Supernatural been on the air?

I once had an aunt-in-law interrupt my description of my latest story with a question: “When are you making it a game?  All the kids play games.”  I had to admit that my novels weren’t of material that translated well into games.

Maybe that is my problem.

Well, I have something new to consider.  Though, it doesn’t help me to move my existing novels.  For now, new blurbs will have to suffice to help them out; and maybe I can find some more exciting venues in which to promote them.

And maybe I should look into dying my hair again…

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