Authors Group Defies Bestseller Mentality
As author Richard Buzzell travelled through the world of book promotion over the last couple of years, he couldn’t help but get the sense that he was swimming in a sea of vampire and fantasy novels. Knowing that he would never reach his target audience through sites catering to these kinds of books, he saw the need for a site dedicated to the genre of contemporary fiction. Along with a few other similar-minded writers, he started the site http://thecontemporaryedge.com.
The purpose of the site is to provide a place where readers of contemporary fiction can encounter new authors working in this genre. Calling themselves the New Edge Authors, Buzzell, Xavier Leret, Terri Giuliano Long, Tess Hardwick and Greg Allen know that they’re facing the considerable obstacle that is the bestseller mentality. Permeating throughout the book world, this mentality tacitly equates the appeal of a book with the amount of marketing hype associated with it. This works well for large publishers who have the financial resources required to generate the volume of marketing necessary to produce bestsellers.
The New Edge Authors believe that the bestseller obsession comes at the price of a bestseller formula that’s based on reproducing previously successful books as closely as possible without actually cloning them. This industry desire to recycle earlier bestsellers has the effect of turning originality into a marketing faux pas. The Contemporary Edge site is aimed at those readers who are looking for writers willing to deliberately buck this recycling trend.
Judging by the number of Twilight-clone books being written, it seems obvious that quite a few writers have bought into the bestseller mentality. For Buzzell’s group, giving up any ambition to get rich from writing is the starting point for their work. Not that they’re intent on being starving artists, but within the indie publishing model, it’s possible for writers to survive financially while targeting much smaller readerships than those required for bestsellerdom.
Buzzell thinks that the most pernicious effect of the bestseller mentality is the way that readers have been conditioned to associate a book’s value with its sales numbers. He maintains that many readers are reluctant to champion a book that doesn’t have a load of marketing hype behind it. He’s hoping that Contemporary Edge will be able to reach the kind of readers who have the self-confidence required to support un-hyped writers.
One of the challenges of having a site specific to contemporary fiction is dealing with requests to define the term. Buzzell provides the following semi-facetious definition: fiction that includes no vampires, zombies, werewolves, succubi, time-travellers, shape-shifters, wizards, warlocks, dragons, aliens or robots. Beyond these restrictions, he generally leaves it up to both readers and writers to provide whatever definition works best for them.
Buzzell understands that his group is going to need to invest some considerable effort to be able to provide the kind of filter that readers can trust to introduce them to worthwhile works of fiction. If successful, it should become possible for writers to find a readership without needing to become bestsellers.
The New Edge Authors hope to be ten members by the end of the year. Anyone wishing to join their ranks can apply through the site.