We’ve all been there. You’ve moved past the drafting stages, exhaustively worked over the prose like a duct-taped punching bag, and the writing is finally good. That’s when you share a scene from your book where a character is hacked in half by an ax and, after an awkward silence, your trusted reader hands it back to you, a little pale, and says something like, “It’s well-written, but not the kind of thing I like reading.” Or maybe it’s a different passage in the book, a passage you fell in love with, where your hero finally realizes romance and your reader says, “It was good, but I like the action scenes more. This is just a thought, but…when he says I love you, maybe have him holding an ax?”
Anyone familiar with even the basics of publishing knows that identifying a readership is hugely important. Agents and publishers want to know who you write like. Amazon pairs and suggests your work in accordance to reader preferences. Having a defined genre helps to identity the best reviewers for your work and find which writers you should bug for blurbs.
This was a problem for me. Even though I’m a fan and student of thrillers, I wasn’t sure where I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead fit best.
Despite its grim title, my debut thriller isn’t noir enough to be noir. It has some funny moments but isn’t a comedy, and deals with parenting but isn’t domestic. If there’s a category for a book where a man seeks revenge, hires assassins but the plan goes wrong and ends up placing himself and everyone he loves in danger, and he also has a pet rabbit, well, that’s where my book fits.
Of course I knew, as my publisher gently reminded me when my book was first accepted for publication, I’d need readers. So I decided to write a prequel for I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead – about a depressed hit man who factors in to the novel – called When the Deep Purple Falls and distribute it serially. I placed the prequel on sites like JukePop, WattPad and Tuesday Serial and, happily, people liked it. I had interest, and that was as much as I could realistically hope for. And a lot of those readers ended up reading and liking my debut. It’s become the scraggly but stubborn beginning of an audience.
Only a few lucky writers have a vast and dedicated audience – outside of their friends and family – after one book. But that is what we all want, and getting it extends beyond marketing, and beyond people buying enough books to keep you in business, or reading your genre because they know what they’re going to get. At its best, there’s love in the reader-writer contract, in the way the audience you’ve searched for feels like they found you. And it echoes that moment in your writing, when the story you’re telling surprises you, and you suddenly realize you’re working with magic. The book is good, the story is fun, you smile as you type; later, they smile as they read. It’s an odd connection, separated by time, unproven by anything physical. Readers feel it with writers; writers first felt it as readers. We’ve all been there. We want to be taken back.
E.A. Aymar studied creative writing and earned a Masters degree in Literature. He was born in Panama and has lived throughout the United States and Europe. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers and SinC, and he and his wife live with a relatively benign animal menagerie outside of Washington, D.C.
For more information about E.A. Aymar, and to watch the animated trailer forI'll Sleep When You're Dead, visit www.eaymar.com/novel.
About I'll Sleep When You're Dead
Tom Starks has spent the three years since his wife’s murder struggling to single-handedly raise their daughter, Julie, while haunted by memories of his dead spouse. When he learns that the man accused of her murder, Chris Taylor, has been released from prison, Tom hires a pair of hit men to get his revenge. But when the hit men botch the assassination, Tom is inadvertently pulled into their violent world.
And now those hit men are after him and his daughter.