It’s been a good week for my books with promotions and blog mentions. I’ve seen a fair amount of downloads, but those don’t seem to be transitioning into Facebook likes or active discussions or reviews on Amazon or anything.
I guess it’s good in that people aren’t hating the books and slamming them with 1-star reviews… but are they not liking them passionately, either? I follow bloggers and reviewers and see great comments about popular books, and everyone seems to be reading the same books at the same time, or one right after the other. My books don’t seem to have that same mass appeal, and I’ve been struggling to figure out why.
The fans I do have seem to be deeply touched by some aspect of the books–typically they evoke a pretty big emotional response, which is great. That’s what I was going for. It’s what I wrote. It’s not what I set out to write, but it’s something I innately do, and do well. I attribute this to the fact that I’m a Highly Sensitive Person. And yes, that’s a real thing.
About 15-20% of the population can be classified as Highly Sensitive. I suspect a good portion of my fans are, as they allowed themselves to succumb to the feelings of the characters in the books, and one of the traits of an HSP is that we emote with the people around us. This isn’t just readers imagining that they’re in the shoes of the character. That creates somewhat of a distanced experience, where you see what happens as you read. What I think happens with my most vocal fans is that readers actually feel at one with Nate, Emi, Jack or Livvy. When they relate on such an intimate level, the feelings they experience along the way are much deeper. So, in a way, I think the success of the books may start with me, the Highly Sensitive writer, but ultimately the Highly Sensitive reader has to sink in to the story for the books to really affect people the way they’re intended to.
But maybe–just maybe–some readers don’t like to immerse themselves so much into a book. Is that possible? Could that be why my books don’t seem to take off like others have, when mine are better reviewed and rated than some of the more popular series out there? Is there such a thing as “too emotional?”
Why aren’t my books more popular? There’s tasteful sex, there’s romance, there’s angst, there’s honesty, there’s love, there’s friendship… there is so much that is desirable and relatable, but more than all of that, there are feelings. Real feelings.
At work this week, I was told that I was “too emotional,” and that’s apparently not a desirable trait in the workplace. This comes as no surprise to me. I know I’m more emotional than most, and I know that my tears make people uncomfortable. Sadly, it’s something I can’t control. The notion that people at my company feel this way makes me realize I’m not in the right place of business… but again, that doesn’t surprise me. I know myself better than anyone, and I know where I want to be.
What stands out, though, is this idea that having too many emotions is bad in a mainstream environment. If that’s true where I work, could that be true in the literary world, too? Is “too emotional” too much for the majority of readers to be comfortable with, too?
It’s an intriguing thought…