I have a theory why it’s so hard for many, if not most, indie and small press authors to find readers willing to buy their books. I’m talking about something other than bad writing, giveaways, and the sheer number of titles available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other sites. There’s nothing I can do about those things.

There’s another reason people are often reluctant to buy the work of new or unknown authors. They don’t know what they’re going to get. I’m the same way. It’s easier for me to buy the latest offering from James Patterson, John Sandford, Harlan Coben, or Randy Wayne White because I know I won’t be disappointed. I know what I’m going to get.

Hang on; I know what you’re going to say. What about the book cover? The book cover is just pretty wrapping paper designed to attract the attention of potential readers. It tells you little or nothing. What about the blurb on the back cover or inside jacket? That’s simply a broad outline of the story. It doesn’t tell you much about the quality of the writing or the narrative style. What about reviews? As an author, I love to get them, but as a reader I pay them little heed because they’re usually subjective and sometimes little more than a favor to a fellow author.

I’m going to tell you what’s in my package. Not that package. Get your mind out of the gutter. Here’s what you’ll get with my writing:

  • I write in the third person voice. I also like to use an inner voice/stream of consciousness technique as a means of adding weight to the story and the characters.
  • My genre is mystery/suspense/thriller with elements of romance throughout all of my books. These are not cozy mysteries.
  • All of my books are set in Shenandoah County, a small, rural community nestled among the Blue Ridge Mountains of southern Virginia.
  • The good guys in my novels are flawed because they’re human. The bad guys are disturbed individuals because I believe that mental illness is the source of most evil committed in this world.
  • You will find lesbians, interracial couples, homeless people, alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, and murderers in my books because I’m trying to create something that is real. I’m not writing about Mayberry here.
  • There is some profanity in my books. Again, I’m trying to be real. The swearing is infrequent, not over the top, and not designed to shock or titillate. It’s an appropriate reaction to the scene I’m writing, and I make no apology for it. You’ve been warned.
  • My books have sex scenes that are germane to the particular scene and the characters involved. The scenes are short and descriptive without being graphic. It’s not erotica. Again, I make no apology.
  • My work has underlying themes of family, friendship, love, and strength. I’m not trying to preach or send any messages. The themes add weight to the narrative.
  • I kill people in my books. The endings are positive, but there is loss and sometimes death along the way.
  • The characters drive the story in my books. There is a lot of dialogue and interaction. I don’t write literary fiction. I can turn a phrase, but I’m not interested in burying the story under an avalanche of adjectives and introspective navel gazing.
  • The John Howard/Wild Pony Ranch series is appropriate for young teens and up. The Salem Matthews novels are a little darker and edgier. They’re appropriate for older teens and up.
  • There is nothing politically correct about my writing. If you’re easily offended, you’ll likely find something to resent in my work. You should probably stay away from it. Your disappointment is not worth the dollar and change I’ll make from your purchase.
  • My writing is good, and occasionally inspired. I’m a fan of the spare style of Elmore Leonard, Robert Parker, and John D. MacDonald.

That’s all I can think of for now. I hope this gives you a better idea about what and how I write. If it sounds appealing I hope you’ll give me a try.