“Brings The Lightning”: a first week report-back

My latest book and first Western novel, ‘Brings The Lightning‘, was published a week ago today.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect, and neither did my publisher, because of three factors:

  1. The Western market has been moribund for many years, abandoned by most of the bigger publishers and invaded by romance and erotica books that have little or nothing (besides their setting) to do with authentic Westerns.  It’s difficult to judge the level of interest in a revival of the ‘classic’ Western such as ‘Brings The Lightning’.
  2. We weren’t sure whether my readers (who are accustomed to this blog, as well as science fiction novels from me) would be interested in a Western, and prepared to invest their money in one.
  3. We weren’t sure how best to promote the novel to an audience interested in Westerns.  That was, and remains, a steep learning curve for us.

Despite those difficulties, the book has done moderately well.  It’s sold close to a thousand copies in its first week on the market.  It’s also attracted more (and more positive) reviews than any other novel I’ve written.  At the time of writing there are 34 reviews, of which 9 are 4-star and 25 5-star.  That’s very gratifying, and I’m glad so many of you have enjoyed the book so much that you wanted to share that with other potential readers.  I’m particularly pleased with the lack of reviews of 3 stars and below.  Clearly, I’ve been able to improve my writing (with the help of my editor) to the point that some previous weaknesses have been addressed.  I’ll strive to continue that improvement in future books.

A major sticking point is that most of those buying and reading ‘Brings The Lightning’ have been previous readers of either my books, or others published by Castalia House, or those published by the author-contributors to the Mad Genius Club writing blog.  This is clear from the ‘also-boughts’ on the book’s Amazon web page (i.e. the series of books headlined, “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought”).  There are few books listed there from the Western genre.  I’ve got to find a way to market my new novel directly to those who like Westerns.  It’s obvious that nothing I’ve done so far is having that effect.  I’m exploring a number of options in that regard, including talking over the problem with experts, and there’ll probably be some advertising in the not too distant future.  It’ll take time to spread the word, but as that happens, I hope sales will improve.

Castalia House is hard at work on print and audiobook editions of ‘Brings The Lightning’.  They should be available within a matter of weeks, so watch this space for details.  This will be my first venture into the audiobook market, so that’s an exciting development.  If it’s successful, we’ll see about audio editions of some of my science fiction books as well.

All in all, I’m generally satisfied with the launch.  There’s plenty of room for improvement in marketing, which I’ll be tackling (with the able assistance of my wife and my publisher) over the next few weeks and months.  By the time the next book in the series comes out, about this time next year, I expect the ground to be much better prepared for its arrival.



  1. Can you take an ad out in some media that is affiliated with Cowboy Action Shooting? Seems like a perfect match, you know guns, combat and history, they love guns and the Old West. They would probably love a new western novel.

  2. Yeah, I agree with John; I 'spect that a LOT of us Western readers like to hold a book in our hands. What I don't understand is why there isn't some way that an author couldn't set up a deal with a print-to-order company so that a book could be ordered from the author who would then pay the print-to-order company to print and ship the book.
    Side bar – I own everything L'Amour ever wrote and have over the years read Max Brand, Even Evans, Zane Grey, and a few I'm sure I'd rather forget(and have). When I can get your book on paper I'll give it a try.

  3. @raven: I'm working along those lines as we speak.

    @John and 0007: Publication of the print edition is in the publisher's hands, not mine; but rest assured, it's coming as fast as arrangements can be made. Look for it soon. I'll announce its availability here on my blog as well.

  4. Congratulations, Peter! Sorry, I have no idea on the promo part (Bookbub works well on most books, but I'm not sure how it would do with westerns or if they even have a category for it.) but I'm happy for you that it has done so well. 🙂

  5. I bought it, but haven't actually gotten around to reading it yet — there are 2 other books in my list that i'm reading before I get to it.

    I've never actually read a western before. Or if I have it was back as a teen, but the one that's coming to mind only is doing so becuz of an explicit sex scene. I was a teenage boy — of course that's what I'd remember from it, no? But it also means that with my adult memory of it, I'm thinking it was more of a romance disguised as a western. My grandfather pretty much exclusively read Louis L'Amour, but I just never got the bug, I guess. I'm hoping/expecting that I will enjoy it, but… can't say just yet.

  6. What about ads in the hunting magazines? They tend to be read by slightly more macho guys than Sports Illustrated.

  7. No help here on the marketing front, but FWIW on the 'authentic' writing side it may be helpful to look at the works of A B Guthrie Jr. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his "Big Sky" novels. Not politically correct today, but realistic to the times.

  8. I plan on getting a copy for myself here shortly. My dad did purchase the ebook from Amazon for his first Kindle purchase, and I should get some feedback from him about it shortly. He loves the classic Westerns such as from Zane Gray and Louis L'Amour so I am interested in hearing his 2 cents on this.

  9. I subscribe to your blog, so when I read about the book in a previous post, I downloaded the free sample on my Kindle.
    I loved it, so I bought the book. I'm enjoying it very much!

  10. On the one hand, traditional publishing declared the western dead quite some time ago.
    On the other, Robert Parker, best known for his police and detective procedurals, had a popular series that apparently was lucrative enough that his estate has seen fit to continue it with a new author.
    And the prolific William Johnstone produced an amazing number of westerns in several series along with his perhaps better known post apocalyptic series.
    So, in spite of the wiser heads opinions, there does seem to be a market out there. Likely a very smart call by Castalia to choose your book to enter that market.
    And I did love the book. Felt very much like what LL would be writing if he were alive today. As with your books in other genre it did leave me wanting more.

  11. I'd second the recommendation about seeing if an ad in the SASS publication might help, or _True West_ or _American Cowboy_ or _Range_ would kick things off. The other thing would be contact museum gift-shops to see if they might consider it, if they sell western fiction (like AQHA, the big museum in Oklahoma City, Red River Valley Museum in Vernon, TX, the Ranching Heritage Center at Texas Tech.)


  12. I and many others have a Nook. The kindle version won't work for us.
    Guess i'll have to wait for the dead tree version.

  13. I've certainly been spreading the word. For the moment, regular readers who also like westerns are probably your best conduit to those who haven't partaken of your earlier work.

  14. @michigan doug – You can download the Kindle software on your Nook; the paperwhite models may be an exception. I have a Nook, and almost exclusively use the Kindle software. That's mostly due to Castalia House, but I also have Cool Reader on my Nook. It's just a specialized Android tablet.

  15. I would suggest getting a review into the The Western Horseman magazine. When you have hard copies get them into tack stores Capriolas, Tips Western Wear etc and truck stops; Travel America, Pilot, Flying J etc.

  16. A couple weeks later and your "also bought" list now includes John Ringo, David Drake, and several western authors. The word is spreading.

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