What's the story behind Savage?
Writing a book doesn't happen in a vacuum, and Savage was like writing a book in the middle of a hurricane (thank you, Florida, for giving me plenty of real-life reference to what that is like).
I always start a new book with a goal. Sometimes the goal is to try something new because I wasn't happy with my last book or the way it was received. Sometimes I want to bottle up whatever magic formula I accidentally used on an earlier book and try to reproduce it, which was how I felt for a while after Knocked Up by the Dom. Other times, I'll find myself in a comfortable pattern and decide it's time for a change.
My goal with Savage was to challenge myself and try something a little outside my comfort zone. Namely, I wanted to write a hero that was a jerk. Not just on a superficial level that was fun and added some spice to a scene, but a jerk on a level that I couldn't just fix away with a few well-placed paragraphs. I wanted his past to have defined him so powerfully that it was literally going to take the better part of the book to chip away at the walls this guy had built up around himself and try to somehow find a way for him to get with the heroine.
And I'd like to think I ended up doing a pretty good job of that, if some of the comments I've seen in reviews are any indication. I've seen an overwhelming number of people say they thought Chris was an absolute jerk, or that he was a jerk they loved to hate, etc.
As I build up more content on my website, you'll start to get a sense for how much the marketing and packaging of my books is important to me as well, and just like I had a goal in the content for Savage, I also had a huge goal for the marketing.
I'll do some more detailed posts on each of these topics in the future, but for now I'll skim over the idea so I can stay as close to the topic of Savage as possible.
In the past, my marketing strategy has been to create a title, cover, and blurb that make what my book is about as clear as possible. A lot of other authors call this "trend-writing", because I've essentially been trying to follow whatever trend readers are interested in and deliver a book to satisfy that particular taste. It has worked great for me, and I think there are always going to be a ton of readers who appreciate having books readily available to fit the ever-changing trends.
Chasing the trends is absolutely terrifying. As an author, I try to pour myself into every book. I spend hours and hours every day making it as good as I possibly can, perfecting the cover, setting up promotions, planning the release, engaging with readers and building hype, creating ads and images for ads, etc. The list goes on and on and on (and I'll even do some posts to talk about what goes into the launch process too in the future).
But when you're chasing a trend and you miss the mark, all that work can potentially be for nothing. My worst experience with that was with my book "Miss Matchmaker" (I've since retitled it to Country Fever). It was such a special book to me. I was convinced it was the best book I'd ever written and I'm still pretty sure it was at the time and remains in my top three. But I totally missed the mark with the title and blurb and possibly the cover, too. It sold the fewest copies of any book I'd written and barely anyone read it, even though it has some of the best reviews of all my books.
The problem was that I set myself up as a trend writer. Live by the trend, die by the trend. And Miss Matchmaker showed me just how fine a line I was walking. I'd been lucky up until that point and managed to stay on top of the trends and pivot to the next one before they got stale, but I saw how quickly I could lose my readership with something as simple as a off-trend title and cover.
Ever since, I've been keeping it in the back of my mind that I want to get away from the trend treadmill. I want to have the freedom to know I can pour my heart and soul into a book without gambling its success on whether I guess what trend is going to be popular in a month. So I've gradually been taking baby steps in that direction. The Dom's Bride was a very obvious title, like my past titles, but it wasn't particularly on any trend. Rank-wise, The Dom's Bride was successful enough to give me confidence to take one more baby step away from trends with Savage (and I'm finally back to my point after that longer-than-intended diversion, sorry!).
With Savage, I did make a gentle attempt at still flavoring the book with the mountain man vibe, which seemed to be what readers were most interested in when I was planning out the book. However, I left all that out of the title and cover. I even barely mentioned it in the blurb, which was a big violation of my previous rules of survival.
In essence, it was an experiment. Would my readers turn on me if I strayed too far from what they had come to expect out of me? Or had I shown my readers that whether I'm dead-on with the latest trend, maybe there's something about my books that they can enjoy even if I'm not chasing a trend.
So Savage was a kind of unique blend of a marketing and writing experiment, because my challenge to make the dynamic between the hero and heroine better and more real was also intended to sort of "back up" the leap of faith I was asking from my readers. "Will you stick with me even if I'm not on trend?" And I wanted that question to be followed with a book that was as powerful as I could manage and as special as I could deliver.
In my not-so-humble opinion, I think Savage is that book. It's really early in the book launch at the time of this post, but I've watched enough books of mine now to be able to say that Savage is on track to do really well. It's currently rank 84 on Amazon and looks like it's going to keep climbing (knock on wood).
I'll continue this series and write the story behind as many books as I have stories to tell for. There may be a few books where it was frankly so long ago that I can't remember enough of significance to write what was going through my head, but I know for sure I can still very much remember what was going on and will be able to write up some more "behind-the-book" posts.
I hope you enjoyed the post, and of course, if you haven't already grabbed your copy of Savage, what are you waiting for!?