Now I am doing the same with my novel, Fish-Eye Lens. The good-bye is probably past due, but I am moving on by eliminating my Facebook page for the book and reducing its presence on my website.
Fish-Eye Lens was fun to write and exciting to publish, but I never figured out how to find its audience. I saw it as a fun and fluffy beach read that blended a picture of real island life with some outrageous ex-pat behavior, but only a handful of people were not disappointed by my approach.
Those who know North Caicos, my model for the fictional East Taino, have been the most receptive to FEL. They seem, however, to have wanted closer correspondences between the real and the fictional and tried to make the book a roman a clef, with characters that were identifiable real people given fictional names.
One reader greeted me at the Barracuda by asking, “Are you Liz, and who’s Z?” Some wanted to know who on the island is a retired drug-runner, and others kept asking my friend LynnRae if she was Liz (even though I’d written most of the book before meeting her). Yes, the developer that I skewer in the book is based on someone real, but I added a lot of speculation and make-believe to create Benny Royston. Just about everyone else is a blend of several people I know, plus a little bit of me. Chip, my ex-drug-runner, combines at least five men I know. Only one minor player, the taxi driver at the beginning of the book, is straight out of island life.
But I digress. Back to finding my readers.
The place where I truly miscalculated was with the readers I pictured in beach chairs, with wine or beer in one hand and FEL in the other. These people, I thought, would be beach-loving boomers who fantasize about the good life on an island: Parrot Heads, renters of Outer Banks condos and other seaside vacationers.
I couldn’t find them. While my local Parrot Head club was very supportive, cracking the Buffett marketing empire was beyond me. Bookstore owners, even in the Outer Banks, weren’t helpful. The owner of my local independent bookshop admitted that she’s “not a beach person” and proved that she hadn’t even read the book’s blurb when she told someone at my signing, “It’s about North Carolina.”
Nor was there enough fantasy in FEL for the fantasizers. While my trio of women lead decadent lives, they do so on an island that has more reality than the “ass in the sand” dream. People on East Taino have jobs. They go to grocery stores more often than the beach. Nearby, the more-developed Grand Taino is a place of noise, dust and hustle. I don’t describe palm trees rustling in the wind, cabana boys offering drinks, or infinity pools at beach houses. I describe donkeys foraging in garbage. Oops.
Despite all these missteps, I still like my own novel and I feel a sense of accomplishment in writing it. But I’ve long been done with the job of marketing it. It’s still out there for readers, available on Amazon, from the publisher (Belle Isle Books) and from Smashwords. But I’m out. It was fun, I think I did a good job, but it’s time to move on.