Finding your niche

One of my favourite authors in all the world is Victoria Clayton.  A few years ago I picked up a book in Oxfam called Dance With Me. I read it rapidly and then sought out every other thing Clayton had written. I bought Dance With Me for friends and relatives. I made my mother and my sister read the books.

Broadly falling into the romantic fiction category, Clayton is a rather unique author. Her stories are set in the 1970s, featuring down-at-heel aristocrats and art history geeks, embarking on hilarious and unconventional love affairs and adventures. They have the occasional swear word.  They are all beautiful. They don’t sell enough to keep them in print. Although they are wonderful books, they are not quite enough like anything else for them to be easily pigeon-holed.

I’ve just finished the most recent book, Stormy Weather. Clayton self-published it as an e-book on Kindle. I loved it, and devoured it at the same rate as her earlier works. I’d have preferred it in print. But I’m glad there was somewhere for her to go when no traditional publishing deal was forthcoming. It seems to be one of the main advantages of the indie publishing (as self-publishing is now known) revolution: everyone can find their niche, because no matter how small it is, it is now worth the effort to publish. Books can stay ‘in print’ forever, so they can take their time to find their audience.

Having said that, I’ve resisted buying Stormy Weather for some time. It’s the fact that I’m paying the same amount of money for an e-book that I’d expect to pay for a paperback (although frankly that I expect to be able to get a paperback for £5.99 is probably a mark of growing up in the 80s). It was worth every penny, but I can’t help feeling that an e-book isn’t an object in the same way paper is. The reviews of the book on Goodreads suggests that others feel the same. There will no doubt be some kind of settling down into the new world order at some point. We shall see. In the meantime I’ve downloaded a e-book by the self-published but well-respected Lindsay Buroker. It’s the first in her series. It’s free. We shall see if this leads to further actual spending…


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