Kindle Forum banner

A discussion for other Western fiction authors...

769 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  [email protected]
If there's anyone on here that writes Western fiction, there's a few questions about publishing/marketing in this genre I'd like to discuss. I'd include any subgenres like Western mystery, comedy, etc., but for the sake of argument I'd like to leave Western romance aside, since romance always seems to sell well.

I self-published my first book, a collection of Western short stories, in October 2011. I also have a short historical mystery that's been out since October 2012, and in a little over three months it's already outsold my Western. That's not a huge surprise to me; I know mystery is a much more popular genre. My Western, The Ranch Next Door and Other Stories, has had uniformly good reviews; I've heard plenty of positive reactions from people who've read it; so I've just got to put slow sales down to the fact that Western is a slow-selling genre and a harder one to market.

I'd almost have thought it would be easier to make a splash in a slower-moving genre than a big one like fantasy or science fiction, where you've got thousands of competitors. But that doesn't seem to be the case. In my experience, the typical Western bestseller list on Kindle usually looks like this: a few new bestsellers that are getting a brief flutter of attention, a number of romance titles, and then miles of L'Amour. Is that about right? It seems to me that the bulk of Western readers, whoever and wherever they are, prefer to stick to familiar names.

Now, the handful of newer books that hit the top of the list seem to be on the edgier side - more hard-boiled, adult content, etc. Some of them might tap into the audience of other genres, like crime fiction, for instance. My stories, on the other hand, I honestly think would appeal to the Western reader who prefers L'Amour and his other, more traditional contemporaries. So far I just haven't been able to crack the code of how to reach those readers, though.

So what do you think? Does my analysis make any sense? And if there's anyone who's had success marketing a more traditional Western, what tips do you have to offer?
See less See more
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Just a possible thought - and please don't take it the wrong way - but maybe a lot of the diehard Lamour fans out there haven't got into e-book readers yet...

The two Lamour fanatics I know don't even mess with computers.

My advice would be to bring out a few more books. If Lamour-style westerns are what you like to read and write then you DEFINITELY shouldn't ought to be trying to change your style. But maybe if you had a series of a few books it might make a bigger splash and attract a little bit more attention.

To make a bigger splash you just need a bigger rock, is all. So write a few more books.

Other than that you might want to try courting some reviews in some of the various western-oriented magazines.

I've written a few dusters myself, although of the weirder variety - and I am still a BIG OLD fan of John Wayne movies and the whole Lonesome Dove series of movies AND books. So I'm sort of semi-western writer.
Thanks, Steve! Yes, that's another thing I forgot to mention - you're probably right that a lot of Western fans prefer hard copies. Which just makes online marketing a bit tougher.

I wasn't exactly comparing my style to L'Amour; he's just certainly the biggest and best-known name among traditional-style Western authors. I do plan on writing more books; I'm working on the next entries in my historical mystery series right now and I eventually want to write a full-length historical/Western novel, in addition to short stories. I'm just wondering if there's any marketing angles I can try to give my already-published book a nudge in the meantime.

Are there any particular Western-themed magazines you'd recommend trying? I didn't know there were any that reviewed fiction.
I had not thought of the western readers/ebook readers thing before. I have noted that many of the 'customers that bought this also bought...' bar under my book are variations of the Lamour theme, however. (Maybe, my Create Space hard copy will sale well.)

Mine sorta looks like a western book. It takes place on the Texas frontier. And white men make war on Native Americans and vice versa. But, it's really civil war (fact based) historical fiction and family saga. It's also much larger than most westerns. 

I'm getting sales (slow) but I don't find I'm claiming much of Lamour's or McMurtry's market. I'm hearing that this is a slow market and, lord knows, true western readers seem to be a dying breed. (Ever fewer western movies in theaters - American West magazines folding)

Don't dispair quite yet. Book sales are in a slump for everyone. Maybe Clint of Duval will come out with a new movie.
Maybe you're not advertising in the right place. Could you make up some bookmarks and see if you could leave them at tack shops, or even stables that sell some equipment? Or maybe even print some up using Create Space and try to get them into some tack shops that way? I have no idea if that would work, but I thought I'd toss it out there for consideration.
I feel your pain.  I write westerns and they're a tough sell.  It makes it harder because I know I should publish more under my Western pen name but I move such few numbers that it really takes the wind out of my sales.  The desire to increase my monthly income ends up overriding my desire to write a Western adventure.

As a side note, I have read your collection and it is quite good.  I also think that Westerns have a strong tradition of short stories (Lamour wrote hundreds it seems) so it's not like the length is unsuitable for the genre.

In the past, before the epic messing around with their system of '11, I used to sell fairly well on B&N.  So I'm wondering if exploring different channels might be the ticket because Amazon readers seem not to care.  I've also not really aggressively pursued the extended series approach for my westerns.  One of my plans for 2013 is to create a 5 book series of novelettes with a reoccurring main character.  Kind of like the idea with Chick Bowdrie that Lamour wrote.

So I have no answers, unfortunately.  But I will commiserate with you over a bottle of wine    8)

See less See more
ElisabethGFoley said:
Are there any particular Western-themed magazines you'd recommend trying? I didn't know there were any that reviewed fiction.
Well Elisabeth, I have seen western fiction reviewed in several magazines and/or websites - but I can't recall the exact name.

I recommend just Googling something simple like COWBOY MAGAZINES - and do a little research. I bet you that you'd find some groups and websites and magazines that review your sort of stuff. Sometimes you've got to poke around, turn over rocks, and such.

Good luck to you, ma'm.
I don't write it, but I love to read it, so I am now stalking all of you who participate in this thread.  ;D
This last week I spent a lot of time working on Western covers. One thing that I noticed right away on your cover is that in thumbnail size it caught me as a possible romance. When I clicked to see the larger version it looked more rugged and clearly wasn't a romance, but not everyone pays that much attention. On my screen I see 3 out of 4 also viewed are western romances ( Addie and the Gunslinger, Charlotte and the Tenderfoot, Kat and the U.S. Marshal ).

You might consider a gun fight scene or something a little stronger, rugged western look for your cover. This could be a case of mistaken identity. And if you are really in love with your current cover, you could consider trying some filters or textures to try and change the overall first impression.

Either way I wish you all the best. Hang in there. ;)
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.