UK or Bust?

I met a new neighbor recently. He’s an older English fellow that reminds me of Anthony Head. He invited me into his house—an old Greek revival mansion built in 1875—and offered me a cup of tea. He was as charming and hospitable as his accent implied. He told me about his life in England and how he had adjusted to living in America over the past twenty years. I enjoyed sitting back in his antique-laden living room, listening to his stories. I could have listened for hours. His stories were far more interesting than anything I had to contribute.

The conversation shifted toward professions. “What do you do?” he asked, sipping from a porcelain cup (for my English readers, no, he did not stick out his pinky). I told him that I was a writer; not one that he would have heard of, but one that hoped to call writing a career one day and not just a hobby. He smiled in a patronizing way, as though he had heard this same story from many other “would-be’s” before.

“Oh? What do you write?” he asked, rubbing the bristles of his moustache. I told him that I had many stories inside to tell, but that I always felt more at home within the realm of Science-Fiction. His eyes lit up as soon as the words passed between my lips. His once doubtful eyes softened, and he shifted in his seat. “Really?” he said. “Why Science-Fiction?”

I spouted off an inventory of my influences as though I had banked them for just such an occasion: Lost, Star Wars, Firefly, Doctor Who. He interrupted me the very second after I’d said Doctor Who. “Doctor Who is brilliant, isn’t it?” I felt like I had uncovered the secret word that would endear this man to me for a lifetime. We talked about Doctor Who for the next forty-five minutes, including how to integrate the brand into my upcoming wedding (Dalek ice sculptures and TARDIS-skinned photo booths).

“You know,” he said, “Science-Fiction is all the rage back in England right now. If you’d like, I can send a couple copies of your books back home. I think they’d be quite keen on them.” He didn’t need to ask me twice. Within an hour, I had a care package packed and ready to ship across the pond. It was an honor… er, rather, an honour, to have my books read in England, to which I have never been, but love a great deal.

A couple of weeks passed before I saw my new neighbor again. He knocked on my front door, coming to inform me that a careless driver had taken out the Internet cabling connected to my house. As I started to shut the door and call the cable company, he turned around and said that he had just spoken with a mate back home about my books. His mate had read Noble and couldn’t stop raving about it. He wanted to know if there were others. A lightening strike could not have erased that smile from my face.

As a writer, I feel very blessed to have sold a modest amount of books. My books don’t score a direct hit with every reader, but when they do, I am elated when I receive kind words and feedback on Twitter. I’ve begun to notice that the bulk of these positive marks are coming from British followers, which leads me to wonder if there is something to what my neighbor said.

Are my books better suited for an English audience?

Am I not focusing enough marketing across the pond?

Am I ignoring a potential hotspot for my books while I struggle to stand out amongst vampires and zombies in the USA?

I don’t have the answer to those questions at present, but it’s certainly something that I am going to research a bit more. I don’t care about fame and fortune; I just want to find a demographic that I can entertain with my stories. If it truly is within the UK that I belong, then I can’t think of a better reason to start looking for a flat. I’ve been ready to have a laugh and a pint with my mates for a long, long time.

4 comments

  1. David – a heartwarming story that really reveals more about the power of personal contact than about nationality (although as a Brit, I thank you for the kind remarks about my homeland).

    But you could be right about the British market – you may well be writing in a way that appeals to a British audience – we’re not that different, but a difference there certainly is.

    The real essence is that although we all promote our books using our blogs and Twitter accounts, you really can’t beat the power of an independant reference.

    Good luck to your book sales over here – Ray

    1. Thanks Ray! I appreciate the kind words. I’m having fun learning where my books fit in within the grand scheme of things. My goal is just to find people that want to read them, wherever they are. If only we could all be so lucky, right? 🙂

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