Don’t Buy My Books

With millions of people out there urging you to buy their books, I’m going to do the opposite and tell you not to by mine. Considering the books that make it big in this anything-goes book world, chances are you won’t like my novels, anyway. Here’s the truth of it — don’t buy my books if:

You are looking for vampire, ghouls, zombies. There are no such beings in my novels, though there is a brief mention of zombies in A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and there are plenty of sub-humans, such as unscrupulous scientists and bureaucrats, but they bleed and eat the same as any human.

You are a romance junkie. Love is a theme in each of my books, but the conflicts are never romantic ones. The characters gradually fall in love as they band together against a greater villain than their own feelings could ever be.

You are a fan of Fifty Shades of Grey. There is no eroticism in my books, no women who want to be subjugated by men, no kinky sex. In fact, the only graphic sex scene is in More Deaths Than One. Each of my books had less sex in it than the previous one, so my last novel, Light Bringer, had no sex. The story did not call for it, and it never occurred to me to add a few gratuitous sex scenes to help the books sell. (Also, unlike FSofG, my books are well-written.)

You only read thrillers. Although my books all have thrilling moments, and although people often stay up late to finish reading one of my books, they are not thrillers as such. In thrillers, the reader knows who did it from the beginning and learns why from the villain since part of the book is told from the villain’s point of view. In my books, the villain’s identity is not revealed until the end, except in Light Bringer, where the villain turned out to be maybe not so villainous after all.

You want books that are the same as all the rest, only different. My books aren’t the same as all the rest. I’ve read over 15,000 works of fiction, and I made sure my books weren’t like any of them. The endings are not predictable. If by chance you do guess the ending, there will still be a bonus surprise for you.

You like stories with flawed heroes. Not one of my characters was purposely flawed to make them more interesting. They are real in their own right, struggling to survive as best as they can, learning the truth of themselves and their world, growing into who they need to become.

You like raunchy humor. There is much humor in my books, particularly Daughter Am I, but the humor comes from character interaction without a single tinge of raunch, or it comes from a sly sense of irony.

You like a particular genre. My books have no particular genre. When I was growing up, the libraries had small sections for genres such as mystery, science fiction, romance, westerns, but the rest of the books were all shelves alphabetically. That’s where my books belong — with the rest. When I have to pick a genre, I usually say the books are conspiracy fiction since they are all based on various so-called conspiracies. Some readers call Light Bringer science fiction , but to be honest, it was written as myth fiction — based on modern conspiracy myths and ancient cosmological myths.

You only “buy” free books. My books are not free, and except for rare promotions, they never will be free. You can, however, download 20-30% free at Smashwords to give you a sense of what my books are like. (You can find my Smashword’s profile here: Pat Bertram. Scroll down below the book trailers to find my books. Click on the one you’d like to download.)

Searching for a Genre

I had a book I wanted to write, so I wrote it, following the dictates of the story without regard to the conventions of genre. Now that book — Light Bringer — is close to publication, and I have a problem. How do I sell it?

I received several rejection letters from publishers and editors over the years saying they liked Light Bringer, that the story was unique and well-written but they’d have to pass because they didn’t know how to sell it. My reaction each time was, “What????” I mean, it’s a book — you put it on the shelf in a bookstore and wait for people to buy it, right? Not quite.

Genre is how we classify books, but more than that, it’s about reader expectations. For example, a thriller is a wild ride with a hero and a villain in mortal combat. Readers expect the story to be exciting, the conflict to involve high stakes, the suspense to be cutting. Generally, the story is told from both points of view — the hero and the villain. Light Bringer is suspenseful, does involve high stakes —  the fate of the Earth — and it does have a villain and a hero, but (here is the crux of the matter) which character is the hero, and which is the villain? Besides, as those publishers and editors told me, the book has too many science fiction elements to be sold as a thriller. They also said it doesn’t have enough science fiction elements to be sold as science fiction. Since they didn’t know how to classify the book, they didn’t know how to sell it.

Now that Light Bringer is about to be released by Second Wind Publishing, I need to figure out who will be most interested in reading the book. Readers are quick to penalize writers for failing to live up to genre conventions, and Light Bringer has no clear genre. It’s too contemporary for science fiction, too outrageous for mainstream, too straightforward for a literary novel, too philosophical for action/adventure, too mythic for an historical, too mundane for fantasy, too scientific for magical realism, too western for urban fantasy, too . . . well, you get the point.

In truth, Light Bringer is  more “myth fiction” than science fiction. Instead of basing the story on science (though there is much that is scientific in the book), I based it on myths: ancient myths, modern conspiracy myths, UFO myths, flood myths, historical myths, pyramid myths. The story is the culmination of a lifetime of research, and in following the research wherever it led, I ended up the premise of Light Bringer. Perhaps I discovered some long-hidden truth. Perhaps I created a separate truth. Perhaps I conjured a fantasy.

Whatever it is, Light Bringer deserves a chance. Suzanne Francis, author of The Heart of Hythea called it brilliant. Malcolm Campbell, author of The Sun Singer said “Light Bringer is TYPICAL BERTRAM: plots within plots, multiple characters with multiple agendas, fast moving, more than enough mystery and intrigue for everyone, satisfying conclusion. Great book.”

So now comes the hard part — finding readers.

If you’re interested in taking a peek at Light Bringer, you can find the beginning of the story here.