‘All of spring is found in one bud” Oscar Wilde
This post’s first bud of spring appears way back when I first began contemplating direct-publishing Tripio. To be clear, the idea of publishing Tripio came way after the origin thought of writing it. And way, way, way after I kept the journal entries that became the novel, Tripio. Just two (repost disclaimer : 3 years) ago, I did not have a blog, shop Amazon for books and only used Facebook to keep track of my kids. Just to be clear and for context and perspective (however unpopular those are these days), Tripio’s direction was always inward.
As for the two, sorry, 3 years ago, that is when I found myself taking a class at the Indiana Writer’s Center, called Publish your Memoir. Since then the information and advice available on and around publishing Tripio has been staggering. A tactic for dealing with all that information, advice and insider know how is to let most of it pass by you. What you need will come back to you over and over. One item that kept coming back to the top of the pile was the selection of the right category for Tripio. Here is where I feel it is important to refer back to the prehistory of Tripio. If I would have known it was so important, I could have written Tripio with a category in mind and directed it’s plot, characters, it’s very soul, into the correct and ultimately profitable category.
Plant your book in a category
In order to sell on Amazon at all, a book needs a niche, a genre, a category. The category is your book’s sacred ground as far as Amazon is concerned. Plant your book in the correct category and in just a few weeks a dispatcher at Brinks will call you and set at time for the truck pull into your driveway with money to unload.
I realized the importance of it all, but finding a category for Tripio came and went on the priority pile. I think one reason I couldn’t get closure on this was that there is no simple answer. As you may know, Tripio has three distinct but collaborative story lines so it is a hard novel to grab hold of and define. To me, this a sign of something special and unique. To Amazon, that is a problem. Since I “had” to choose, I placed Tripio in the “historical fiction” category.
Replant it if you have to
That just didn’t feel right. I felt like I had picked a major going into college just to keep my parents happy. That choice was made over a year ago. Life went on. But for the past several months, sales have stagnated, which may or not have anything to do with category choice, but one never really knows. It was enough motivation, however, for me to find myself contemplating the right category for Tripio yet again. Category choice had once again found itself near the top of the pile of things to do.
Which brings me to yesterday. For the better part of an hour I considered a category for Tripio as I drove to Elwood, Indiana. All options were in my mind. Was Tripio a romance? Literary fiction? Maybe contemporary historical fiction? I was back to the same thing that had kept me from settling on a category in the first place. In and around those thoughts was the hope there would be coffee shop somewhere in this small town. I love that type of coffee shop. They are usually found in an old bank or pharmacy. They are roomy but carry a sense of gravitas and history, not of transaction. I asked an Elwood local to point me to such a place and soon enough I found myself at the Gypsy Soul.
The gypsy soul is indeed a coffee house. I chose a cappuccino for the ride back from Elwood. But the Gypsy Soul is also part a salon and another part boutique. A “women’s dream” the barista told me as she steamed away at the milk. The cappuccino she made was quite good. I almost bought some hand cream. I regretted that I didn’t have time for manicure.
Water your category
As I drove home later, I was thinking of the Gypsy Soul. It would make a great coffee shop on it’s own with it’s high ceilings, long wooden bar, and view of Elwood’s old streets. The other elements were there but, for me, Gypsy Soul was a coffee house. My next thought was that, at it’s core, Tripio is a coffee book with a coffee title, which mean it belongs in a coffee category, right?
In order to stand out yet at the same time feel “right” to me, Tripio belonged in a coffee category. I already knew there was a coffee category but it was for the business end of things, or for making mochas at home. I took my visit to the Gypsy Soul as a sign of good fortune however. If you can’t believe a Gypsy fortune, who are you going to believe? I decided that I would dig deeper into the category selection on Amazon when I made it home.
Put it in the sun
The Gypsy was right. She told me to keep searching and I would be rewarded. There was a category on Amazon called Coffee Shop Fiction! This is where Tripio belongs. Such a relief. This is a category that would also work for Back outta the World and Altonstreet & Philpatrick, both of which take place in and around actual coffee shops, ( Brazilia in Columbus, Ohio and Oregon Street Coffee House in Dayton respectively).
I can rest easy now. The category was not large which also means Tripio will be easy to find among Grounds for Murder and Bikini Baristas. This gives me hope that I will one day “own” the coffee shop fiction category. I can finally cross the category search off my list. I can now tune out the background noise in my head that had been buzzing around for over a year. This means that I can spend more of my valuable time actually writing. Time to get started! But not before I order my copy of Bikini Baristas.
I chose to update this post for a practical reason. Firstly, I hope this post does help your book find a category. Secondly, as I rework Altonstreet and Philpatrick it occurs to me that I do in fact have a “Coffee Trilogy” on my hands. A & P is now going to take place over two day – entirely in pre-Starbucks era coffee house. And, if all goes well, Altonstreet & Philpatrick will join Back outta the World in the Coffee Shop Fiction category.