by Jule Selbo
8 DAYS, the third book in my Dee Rommel Mystery series, will be released December 6, 2023. The publisher tells me the paperback and hardback will be out a bit sooner, but the digital version will ‘drop’ that first week of December.
This is the time when I start hoping people will read what I worked on for a year and start wondering how all those bookreaders out there are divvied up.
According to UrbanWriters.com: the most popular genres (most books sold, did not specify where/how they got their data): number one is ROMANCE. Wish fulfillment, escapism, a lot of people like to think true love exists. Number two is CRIME and THRILLER: the site reports that this genre stays neck and neck with Romance. Instead of the warm and fuzzy and hopeful (where the conflicts are usually overcome), crime and thriller readers like to dig deep into the darker and more disturbing side of life where ‘bad’ people do face consequences. Number three is RELIGIOUS AND SELF-HELP books. Number four is HUMOR and CHILDREN’S BOOKS. Number five is SCI-FI and FANTASY.
8 DAYS, A Dee Rommel Mystery is a straight-forward crime mystery, it’s got a female protagonist, there’s a small hint of romance, a bit of humor, no religious overtones and it’s not suitable for children. And I wouldn’t dare to write ‘self-help’ – there are mornings when I decide to not get out of bed.
A few sites picked FANTASY as the number one genre for readers right now. Others focused on the fact that the number of sci fi and fantasy readers continues to grow at a leaping pace. An article in YES magazine (originally in Mindsite News) is titled: “Young Readers Find Hope – and Escape – in Sci-fi and Fantasy Books”. The essay, written by Hermes Falcon and Kendall Covington, includes: “Fantasy fiction book sales increased dramatically in the past three years just as teen depression, anxiety, and focus on mental illness skyrocketed—parallel trends that may be both a symptom of the (past?) pandemic…”. Some reports even anoint fantasy literature as ‘health benefit’.
Fantasy tales, of course, can include systems of magic, mythical or out-of-this-world creatures, new forms of society, an acceptance of gender diversity and absolutely individual-istic goals. One essayist noted that the fantasy worlds are different from the ‘real’ world readers find themselves in (at least on Earth). Earth-Psychologists note that fantasy gives teens (in particular) a relief from a daily dark, dangerous, uncertain reality – a break from the “reality overload” of war, genocide, suicides, disease, mass shootings, climate change, reversal of women’s rights and more. (Or if we’re not going to the darkest, from the bully sitting across from them in Geography class, from the teacher with snout on his nose hairs, or the neighbor lady with twelve cats who watches you through her binoculars.)
Another site reported that more adults are reading sci-fi and/or fantasy. One adult reader mentioned that she didn’t want to read anything ‘real’. What she wanted was escape. “That ‘life’ today was painful enough.”
No sci-fi or fantasy in 8 DAYS. A little science maybe. I am very interested in new tech robotics, so that does find its way in but it’s science-reality, not science-fiction…
Crime/mysteries (including thriller, cozy, spy etc.) are also listed as “mental health” enhancers. Today’s readers, one essayist purported, even more than before, want to get engrossed in a story and feel a satisfaction when the mystery is solved, and the criminal is caught. And goes to jail. In today’s world – that ‘going to jail’ seems to be a sticking point in more than a few instances, but we, as writers of crime fiction, can give that satisfaction to the reader.
I read in one essay that evolutionary psychologists say that we’re drawn to the crime/mystery tales because murder, rape and theft have played a significant part in human society since our hunter-gatherer days. What does this mean? We read what we “know” in our bones? I don’t know if I am 100% on board with that theory.
I also got Google-happy trying to figure out the popularity of book series. 8 DAYS will make the Dee Rommel series a trilogy. I plan to do 10 books – (a decology). Will I make it? Will I stop at 4 (a tetralogy) – I will make it that far because I’m working on 7 DAYS now and I’m too stubborn not to finish something so there will be at least a tetralogy.
Will it be 5 (a pentalogy)? Or 6 (a hexalogy), or 7 (a heptalogy), or 8 (octology) or 9 (ennealogy). I know I love to read series; I like to stay with a character. A lot of Maine mystery writers (and those out of Maine) have created characters that stay with you – but they live in ‘stand-alone’ books. IndiesUnlimited.com reported this is a popular series approach, it takes the pressure off the reader to ‘go in order’. A writer on the NY Book Editors site says she’s a fan of series – her article pointed to reasons: an increase of possible book sales, an increase in fan base, its ability to amplify a reading culture (keep them with books in their hands (or digital readers on their laps)) and more. She asked, what is one of the big reasons readers like series? she asked. World-building. Readers like to drop back “in” to characters and locations. Less work for the reader, less set-up, more ‘straight-to-story’ stuff.
8 DAYS, a Dee Rommel Mystery, features an arc for Dee Rommel but remains in the “stand-alone” category. Publication date is December 6 across all platforms. The paperback and hardback will be available before the digital edition.