A few weeks ago, I re-published my 2001 novel, AN UNCOMMON ENEMY. Originally published (and nearly forgotten) in the tragic week following September 11th, I believed the story deserved a second chance. The moral and political controversies raised after Custer’s attack on a peaceful
camp on the Cheyenne Washita in 1868 were not so different from the questions faced by in the wake of 9/11. I felt the issues posed still resonate, so I hoped the book might somehow find a new readership. America
I never imagined what would take place last Thursday night.
Kindle Nation, a blog for Kindle users, favorably reviewed the novel and posted its first chapter online. Within hours, the Amazon sales ranking jumped from #124,000th to #127th in the Kindle store. By the next morning, AN UNCOMMON ENEMY was the #1 Western novel across ALL formats on Amazon, paper or pixel. Number One! The raw power of a single very influential blog to move an otherwise forgotten novel in this totally-new publishing landscape is striking.
I also learned another lesson. Bookstores--and the publishing industry itself--tend to force all books into narrow genres and all readers down narrow aisles. Bloggers need not follow such dictates or conventions, and can allow their readers to self-sort their book selections without restriction. The Kindle Nation blog, for instance, is ecumenically focused on all Kindle readers, regardless of book genre. Think of the effect this had on my sales when Stephen Windwalker, of Kindle Nation, summed my book up this way:
"If it weren't for my efforts to be genre-agnostic, I probably would not have gotten hooked on this novel. But the fact is that it can't be pigeon-holed in a genre; it's just a great story, well told, with totally unexpected, astonishingly well-imagined characters."
Kindle readers, who might never walk down the Western aisle of a Barnes and Noble, or read a western-themed magazine reviewing books of interest, were instantly exposed to my cross-genre novel. (Which is more a general “historical novel” than a true “Western.”) For a brief moment, it did not have to compete for their attention with 120,000 other volumes lining the shelves and capping the ends of any bookstore.
Bottom line: AN UNCOMMON ENEMY found an uncommon friend, for which I am very grateful.