I'm A Hit With The Teenage Females
There's a few new experiences with this new book that I didn't get with the first book.
The first and foremost is the retail sales experience. Just about every book sale I had when I put out the self-published first book was done through the internet. Some stores ordered and carried it, but not many would take that chance. I have the data somewhere, but can't be arsed to go plow through it - so my best guess would be somewhere on the order of about 350 - 500 copies of my first book sold through retail outlets, while the rest (thousands) sold online.
Another new experience - and this one is actually derived from the first experience - is blind mail from first-time readers who are finding me in the retail stores and then backwards-researching me online. They're shocked to find out that I've been at this for nearly 8 years, and that there's another 200 or so stories on MentallyIncontinent.com that they get to read for free (including a whole other book - the first self-published book is free on Google Books).
A third new experience, and really the most overwhelming to me, is also derived from the first. I've gone through the emails I've received since the book came out on November 3rd. I've received 112 emails from people who found my book for the first time in a retail store or from someone who found it in a store. Of those, 92 are females.
This is very striking to me - on the first book, and on the website while writing both books, I could draw about a 60% / 40% ratio of males to females. But to have almost 90% of new-to-me readers on this book be female... That's really crazy to me. But even crazier... 77 of those 92 emails are from teenage girls.
The book's subtitle speaks directly about burning down things and the cover features duct tape. I totally see it appealing to teenage boys most definitely, and men in general. To get this sort of contact from females - especially teenage ones... It's absolutely mind-blowing to me. I'm not a vampire, I don't shimmer, and nowhere in my book do I fight a werewolf. I have never seen myself as a writer of "teenage books", and especially ones for teenage girls.
A good many of them received the book as a gift or weekly reading material from a parent, usually mom. Some actually got them as part of a book club (4 specifically, who all know each other). The rest saw the book at the store and were intrigued enough to pick it up, and said that they just couldn't put it down.
The part of me who has agonized and studied the actual craft of writing (believe it or not, I have!) finds this utterly fascinating, because I just never ever considered that my writing could engage a demographic so overwhelmingly. And there's also probably some bias in there which would show that women are more likely to reach out and contact someone than men, or maybe that guys don't really reach out to guy authors to tell them what they think (unless they hate it). Maybe the opposite gender thing... I dunno. But the implications here are really hard to consider for me, mostly because now I'm completely obsessed with figuring out just what, exactly, is causing this bias.
It's definitely neat, and I'm honored beyond belief that a) I'm being read and b) people think enough of the work to let me know. And on a general level, I actually don't care who reads me - boys, girls, old, young - so long as whoever is, is being entertained. But the curious badger-poking curious part of me is just enamored with the lines drawn by these numbers, and the actual writer in me is blown away by the artistic implications.
Well, maybe artistic is a bit of a strong word. Not much of what I do is art. But still, I think you know what I mean.