This week has been a search for where I went wrong.

I read another essay by a financially successful author who writes what’s kindly called “monster porn.” In short, his advice is to write prolifically, bundle stories together, and publish frequently. His stories run 5,000 – 8,000 words. Mine typically run well over 100,000 words. Mmm, methinks frequent output isn’t going to happen.

However, the essence is that the author has to have a fairly large body of work out before the royalties amount to anything much. These days, that’s sage advice. There are hundreds of thousands of books published and available just through Amazon. An author’s go to build a body of work just to build a fan base or any name recognition.

I’m working on it, damn it.

This week I added pages to Tiger in the Snow, the sequel to The Barbary Lion. It should be almost finished. I never intended it to be anything more than novella length. (Yeah, yeah, we all know the destination to which the road paved with intentions goes.) Anyway, that got me thinking again why I was even bothering writing a sequel to a story that has received poor reviews and why the story has done so poorly.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen promotional blitzes for romance novels that wallow in hardcore BDSM, Stockholm Syndrome, and abuse. If the prevalence of those promotions is any indication, those books are doing quite well. I don’t understand it, though, because I don’t find humiliation and degradation romantic. Maybe I’m just weird.

But The Barbary Lion does have a bit of that. The hero’s arrogant beyond belief–hey, he’s 1600 years old and was once a king–wealthy, and the complete male chauvinist. He’s also a lion shifter and he’s lonely. The heroine is “everywoman” and goes to Italy for a dream vacation. The hero recognizes her as his mate, takes her captive, and generally doesn’t treat her very nicely. But his treatment of her doesn’t involve beatings or the like–that I don’t do in my books.

The heroine is different from the other women in those other books. She doesn’t identify with her captor. She schemes. She escapes, damn it, and she maintains her freedom for a good, long time. Our hero’s bestial alter ego prevents him from chasing after her, so he hires a hunter whom our heroine outwits and event shoots to escape. Of course, she’s found once and for all. This is a romance, after all, with a happily ever after ending.

But she doesn’t just sigh, bat her eyes, and fall into step behind her lord and master. She haggles with him, negotiates her rights and privileges. Because the hero’s a man of his word, he’ll not renege on that agreement that brings her back into his life and, actually, saves it.

In my mind, that’s better. We have a heroine who isn’t a spineless doormat and a hero who learns regret and consideration for others. Not a bad deal. So why the poor reviews?

Perhaps the lousy cover is part of it. Granted, the book’s cover is not my best work. This week I spent several hours coming up with a new cover that’s a definite improvement. If nothing else, an attractive cover should help increase sales. I set up a 3-day giveaway–Oct. 29 thru 31– for the book, asking for reviews. (I cannot in good conscience ask people to read and review and then also expect them to pay for the book.) Let’s hope that works and that the reviews improved.

Fingers are crossed.