IWSG – The Pains of Being Epic

Today is the first Wednesday of the month. That means, it’s time for Insecure Writer’s Support Group!


You can find the sign up here. We owe Alex J Cavanaugh a huge thank you for thinking this blog hop up.

My novel, Thanmir War, is epic fantasy. When I released it in December of last year, I hadn’t really thought about a virtual book tour, mostly because I had no clue as to what one was. With the suggestion of a really awesome friend, Melissa Maygrove, I decided to look into them. I turned to trusty Google and realized there were a lot of options. I approached one that had a pretty good rep, and received the following reply.

I would love to take you on for this tour but in my past events with fantasy I have not had much luck getting bloggers signing up for them – it seems I don’t have a large number of tour hosts who read the genre.

Well, that sucked. But they were kind and offered me 3 other suggestions. I pressed on. One was not taking new clients. Another responded with:

Unfortunately, we feel that we don’t have enough tour hosts interested the genre.

…And they gave me 4 other suggestions, two of which weren’t taking new clients. One stated on their website they only took Romance. The other didn’t respond to me for about 2 weeks.

In the meantime, I approached the third of the first suggestions. This one had me really hopeful. She was a book reviewer herself. She had slots in April available. With that in the plan, I politely declined when option 4 from option 2 finally responded.

In February, she backed out of the tour with an apology.

I cried—like those tears you just can’t stop so you scrub the kitchen floor so when people look at you, all they see is the back of your head. My husband cooked me dinner. My sis-in-law mixed me a drink.

After I got over my sobbing, I sat and contemplated my situation. By then, option 4 had changed their services and no longer offered what I wanted. Not to mention my book had been out for 3 months. My spirit had been pretty well crushed. I was hedged with doubt as to whether or not anyone would even read my book (tour or not), and fairly certain I was too late in the game.

I’ve read Crystal Collier’s article about Epic Book Tours. Honestly, I’m still in awe of this woman (for more than just her book tour post). When I go about the next book tour, I plan to follow her advice and try it for myself.

Thanmir War never got its book tour. In the back of my mind, I still replay the conversation between my buddies about how epic fantasy gets less readers than a lot of other genres. To top that, I had the sinking feeling I’d shot myself in the foot with the way I’d written Thanmir War—four separate POVs which eventually converge. (I like to think of it as a frayed rope, where the ends are separate but wind together into one thick cord.) It’s common enough for what I read for enjoyment, but as someone pointed out to me, you start liking a character and then it switches and you’re stuck with someone else for the next however many pages. Like hitting the reset button. Did I kill my momentum? Even so, I wouldn’t have done it differently.

Maybe I’m abnormal for enjoying epic fantasy. Or maybe, I’m just insecure.

What about you? Do you read epic fantasy? What’s your favorite genre?

Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

66 thoughts on “IWSG – The Pains of Being Epic

  1. Ah, yes. The merry-go-round of doubts, questions, should-have-beens of writers. πŸ™‚ Actually, I think Michael Offutt’s post this morning sums up my views on this. Maybe I’m being fatalistic, but I’m a bit more sane now, plugging away and not worrying about this things. I have to write what fits me. That’s all I can do. The blog tours and the rest might work for some – I think YA and romance do well – but it’s an exhausting road. More power to the people who manage it. I’ve finally reconciled myself to the fact that I can’t. πŸ™‚

    • I tend not to worry about things, but I have a bad habit of going into “disaster mode” when I start to lose control. My guess is that I’m one of those people who can’t either.

  2. I second River’s post. I didn’t have much luck with the blog tours either because I can’t even figure out what genre my books fall into. I think we have to write what works for us. And I definitely don’t think you’re abnormal in your love of epic fantasy! As a huge George RR Martin fan, I think your style of alternating POVs in a fantasy book sounds perfect. It’s worked out well for him. πŸ˜‰

    • It’s encouraging to hear that others struggled with book tours (not so much that misery loves company, but that I’m not alone). I haven’t started in on your books yet, but I’m looking forward to when I can!

  3. My release day ‘book blitz’ crashed and burned at the last minute. And that was rough, because I’d had similar rejections as you. (Historical is apparently not very popular either.) Thankfully, Lisa Regan knew of a couple of e-book promoters that accepted new releases. For roughly the same amount I would have paid the tour co., I was able to schedule release day book promos with two e-book sites.

    Look around the web at Fantasy haunts and supporters. Maybe you’ll happen on something right up your epic alley. πŸ˜‰

    IWSG #224 until Alex culls the list again.

    • I’ll see if I can hunt down some epic fantasy bloggers.

      That really surprises me about your rejections. I would’ve thought where yours is a romance, a lot of people would’ve jumped on board (plus Historical is also in the top 3 of BookBub subscriptions).

      I’m glad things worked out regardless.

  4. I read epic fantasy (among many other genres). I think my favorite author in that genre right now is George R.R. Martin but I must confess I have a love/hate relationship with him. It’s very dysfunctional much like the characters he writes.

    • Ah, but the flawed, dysfunctional characters are why we keep reading.

  5. I feel for you, Loni. This marketing stuff is cruel and feel fatalist way too often. I’m still not sure it sells any books. So, I’m probably not a good one to ask. But honestly, I think reviews have helped me most. Readers seem to connect to them better. And really, who attends tours? Other writers. I write suspense. Nice to meet you. I’m one of the co-hosts this month.

    • I think with tours, you can get regular book bloggers/reviewers involved, so that would help, since their audiences are readers. But I agree, reviews are invaluable.

  6. Not only do I read epic fantasy, I also happen to write epic fantasy. Well, epic-ish fantasy. I’m always uncomfortable with the ‘epic’ part.

    I’m undecided about the whole blog tour thing. I salute those who manage to pull them off successfully.

    Oh, and for any future releases (or current ones), you’re always welcome to take over My Pet Blog for a day.

    • From the few times I’ve seen you describe, it looks like it’ll be a blast to read.

      Thank you for the offer! I will definitely take you up on it when the next release rolls around.

  7. Oh Loni that is just awful! A lot of people frown on memoirs too. We just have to keep putting ourselves out there with the hope that the right person crosses our path.
    I love to support ALL authors on my site and I would love to do an interview with you. Let me know if you are interested…
    Now I need to get my IWSG post written.

    • Thank you! I’m not quite sure how well I’d do at an interview, but I’d be happy to give it a try. If it sucks, then you don’t have to put it up. πŸ˜€

  8. That’s sad. There are a lot of fantasy sites out there. I know, because many of them deal with science fiction as well. I can send you a list. And check out Diane’s posts (Spunk on a Stick) about book tours. That might help you as well.

    • I will hit you up after all this blog hopping has calmed down. But I will check out Diane’s posts! Thank you!

  9. you know, i bet there are many other fantasy authors who have the same problem – but fantasy will never go away! there are tons of fans of it out there! i would check facebook and twitter for fantasy groups – and i bet they would have advice or you could connect and do a group tour or something… (i had the same problem with my sci fi book, but with agents)

    and thanks for commenting on my cover reveal!

    • I will check for fantasy groups. Unfortunately, my social media participation ends up pretty low because of the little ones that demand I put away my computer.

  10. I think it’s so strange that not many people are interested in epic fantasy. Epic fantasy is . . . well, EPIC! I’m sorry that you had such a hard time and wasn’t able to give your book a tour.

    When my ebook came out last year, I knew I wouldn’t be able to use a company because I didn’t even have a dollar to give for their services, so I just did it myself. I asked the bloggers I knew who hosted book and author spotlights to host me and then from there found many I didn’t know. My blog tour lasted from the end of November to the end of April. It exhausted me and many didn’t help with sales, but I will be doing it again with my novella that’ll be coming out soon.

    If you ever need a book spotlight now or in the future, my blog will always be open to you. πŸ˜€

    • I totally agree about epic fantasy being EPIC. πŸ˜€

      Thank you for the offer! I will definitely take you up on it.

  11. *gasp* You referenced my post. *blush* Epic fantasy isn’t as hard to sell as people make it out. It’s definitely a niche genre though. My thought is, start with your blogging pals and don’t push it as Epic Fantasy, just share the blurb and garner interest from that direction. As blogging friends to share, and if you’re a part of any writing groups on facebook, goodreads, linkedin or twitter, ask for help there as well. People are amazing and will promote your work even if it’s not their target genre.

    • Your article is extremely helpful, and so is your comment. I’ll try it out when the next time comes around.

  12. I’m sorry to hear you had such struggles with your virtual book tour. Learning lessons – what worked, what didn’t – from it doesn’t always ease the sting, but it will help you and your career in the future.

    As for writing and reading epic fantasy – go for it! Write the story that wants to be told. πŸ™‚

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

    • Learning is part of growing, right? It’s one of those necessary pains. Thank you for the encouragement!

  13. Marketing. Blarg!
    One of the great things about networking with other writers is learning what worked and didn’t work for them. Good luck. I hope it works out for you πŸ™‚

  14. It’s never too late for a blog tour, girl! No sir. Look at the commenters here who will help you out. I’d be happy to host you anytime too on the J.Q. Rose blog. I encourage all authors of all genres (well not erotica) to join me. We have fun. I organize my own blog/book tours, but no longer than 2 weeks. People get sick of you promoting the tour! LOL..Offer prizes, free e-book, etc and maybe a discount on your book and you’ll have folks come to see what it’s all about. I agree with Joylene that reviews are very important to interest new readers. But nobody can say for sure what really works to sell books. Best wishes!

    • Thanks for the tips! Your enthusiasm really uplifts my spirits. I will definitely be hitting you up, the next time a release rolls around. In the meantime, I’ll sta…er…following you on Bloglovin’.

  15. I did a blog tour for my book release and, honestly, all it got me was a few Twitter followers. I’ve heard many authors say the same. Many of the people who claim to have a huge Twitter follower base and blog readership got less reads than my blog did even before the A to Z challenge. They have a lot of followers on Twitter–but that’s from doing giveaways where hundreds of people sign up only to win a free Kindle or gift card. Those people generally are just looking for something for free, so I’m not convinced it translates to sales in that case, either. Just food for thought…


    • It seems to be hit and miss with some of the blog tours.

      I don’t know what I’d do with more Twitter followers. I suppose I’d actually have to tweet then…

  16. I love epic fantasies, but since they are often much longer than other books, I don’t get as much time to read as many as I’d like. I’m wondering about this book tour thing, though. I can’t imagine there not being a large audience for your genre. I’m also wondering why your publisher doesn’t line tours up for you. Is that something they no longer do for their authors? That’s a scary thought, as I’m just now nearing the finishing line of one of my novels. I know it’s gotten tougher out there, publishers expecting more and giving less, but I can’t believe they haven’t at least given you the contact info to find book tours.
    Congrats on even needing one, though. That’s a step ahead of a lot of us.

    • The time factor seems to be one of the bit hitters. I can power through 200K in a few days, but for some people, that type of investment is a hefty one.

      I’m actually indie published, so you’re right about the publisher not pulling enough weight. πŸ™‚

  17. Many hugs to you, Loni. I think I’ll just edit my book. Quietly publish it. Hope someone will notice it’s up there and promote it for me. That works, right? My question is, why is there a certain time for a tour? Is it bad protocol to have it six months after the book is released? Why can’t it be something like an anniversary tour or whatever? What do I know? I haven’t even finished editing a book πŸ˜‰

    co-host IWSG

    • I thought book tours were like baby birth announcements, where they have the biggest response when the kid is first born. Now that my “baby” is 6 months old, I figured the response would be more along the lines of, “what took you so long?”

  18. Yeah, I went through a lot of that just finding a place to do the cover reveal. So I also used her for the book tour. They’re out there, it’s just finding them and securing a place at the right time. I don’t think I could’ve arranged it all myself, certainly not have the amount of people who are taking part in it that I have now. Maybe next year I will, or the year after…

    And as for alternating POVs … that’s the bread and butter of most epic fantasies and readers of the genre should know this, so you’re in good company there.

    • Yay! You made it online!

      Maybe I’ll check her out, if organizing my own gets too overwhelming.

  19. My debut just came out this past January. As much as I prepared for its release day, there’s so much I missed. Just when I felt I had everything covered, more stuff popped up that I had no clue existed. I’m just learning from my mistakes and taking notes for my next book!

    • I’d love to see your notes someday! What people learn from experience is incredibly interesting to me.

  20. Epic fantasy’s a huge deal. A Song of Fire and Ice is one of the biggest things ever. However, I think it might be that people can’t really do more than one epic fantasy at a time. I don’t -know- that, but it seems to be that way.

    • That might be the case. I know my sis-in-law rereads an entire series before starting in on a new release.

  21. Book tours still work, but they are a lot of effort to set up. At this point, just doing a couple guest posts a month might be a good idea.

    • I will look into that idea. And I’ll be checking out those posts Alex recommended!

  22. I released my book the same time you did. I refuse to spend money on something that’s supposed to be making money for me, and I’m not a fan of tours. But I got a bunch of book bloggers to accept and review my Horror novel (about 20% out of the 110 I contacted). I now have enough reviews to interest some of the e-book newsletter promos … I was going to ask my publisher to put the book on sale and then get myself on one of those newsletters … but I just don’t care anymore. I’m putting all my attention on my new WIP, and then the one after that, and then the one after that. Marketing is a huge time suck with zero (or little) payoff. That’s my experience anyway.

    • I think that’s a very smart approach—both the reviews and the writing more. I’ve heard that having multiple titles to your name helps. You’ve given me some things to think about.

  23. Epic fantasy is something people say is a hard sell, but the most popular books readers name are epic fantasy. I love a good epic read. I don’t like the marketing part of being a writer. I never know if what I’m doing is enough or even if it’s right. Good luck, and if you find the magic secret to it, please let us know. πŸ™‚

    • If I do, I most certainly would share! But knowing my luck, they’d change the formula the very next day.

  24. I failed miserably to get on the blog tour roller coaster with my first book too. Mainly because I knew nothing about blog tours at that time. Plus I am never quite sure what genre to put Insane Reno into. As to the question will anyone ever read your book, well, I just popped off and brought a copy. πŸ™‚ So I guess that one is a definite yes and I am also sure that lots of other people will read it too. πŸ™‚ Hugs xx

    • Oh wow! Huge Thank YOU! Sounds like we’re in the same boat. When your next one comes out, I’d love to help out. πŸ™‚

  25. Bah, rules!
    Ummm … Game of Thrones/ Song of Ice and Fire is written from all kinds of points of view, and it doesn’t seem to hurt George R.R. Martin’s popularity one bit! The key might be to present a ‘story’ problem (In GRRM’s case, it might be ‘who the heck is going to run the place?’) and keep the reader engaged that way. So I don’t think a story has to be written from just one point of view at all.
    And, I happen to think Epic Fantasy is booming. Maybe you just haven’t connected the right blogs yet?
    Hang in there, Loni. From what I’ve seen so far, your writing is wonderful and should be shared! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you. πŸ™‚
      I think you’re right about the blogs. But I’m not sure where to look for them!

  26. What I find remarkable in reading the comments and your post is that writers are made of such strong stuff. It doesn’t matter how many times we’re rejected or our plans crash and burn after hours of time invested, we plunge ahead.

    Great to find your blog and read about your experience. Well done.

  27. Ugh, I had no idea you’d been through all of that!! That truly stinks. And what is this nonsense about people not reading epic fantasy?? I read it, and so do many others. Besides, I think switching POVs, when well done, is a lot of fun to read. So there. πŸ˜‰ I’m so sorry you had to deal with all of that!

    • That is good to hear, Liz! With this IWSG, I’ve learned pretty much all genres face this same readership challenge. Not that that’s a good thing, but it’s bolstered my spirits.

  28. I know how sad it is that things don’t work out as one expects. I wrote an epic once. Never got to publish it but I simply love it. I also read epic and I like it very much. There is always a learning curve in this business. What is done is done so don’t worry about how different you would have done things but about what you can do right now with what you have in your hands.

    • Your thoughts are always so uplifting. That is a wonderful way to look at things. Thank you!

      I would enjoy reading your epic one of these days.

  29. Epic fantasy is really outside my reading box, but that doesn’t mean I don’t admire those who can tackle the task of writing it. My favorite genre? Literary fiction, though some don’t consider that a genre per se. I also quite like memoir. I’m forever stuck in reality, I guess πŸ˜‰ I working on some short travel memoirs and no idea of how to market them, but I mainly hope they can speak well for my writing and editing abilities. Yeah, if we would all write romance or paranormal, it seems book tours are always going on for those genres.

    • Those two genres seem to be the most popular.

      I’m not much of a reality person, but your writing is terrific. I’m sure Lost Girl Road will do great. πŸ™‚

  30. That stinks about the blog tour, Loni! I would definitely be right there w/you on the tears aspect. (and it’s so sweet your family stepped up for you!) I’ve heard so many differing opinions on blog tours(they work/they don’t) but when it comes to our book babies, we’re willing to do whatever we can for it. If I’m ever lucky enough to be published, I know I’ll attempt to do one.

  31. Oh yeah, the marketing crap can sure make things not the best in the end. But you have to keep on trying indeed.

  32. I’m all about Epic–fantasy and music! Next time, swing by my site and I’ll set you up a really “Epic” promotion, while you sit back & relax with a pitcher of margaritas:)

    Echoes of Olympus
    A to Z Survivor

    • I didn’t know you did promotions! I’ll be checking out your services…and maybe sipping margaritas. πŸ™‚

  33. I don’t think I read epic fantasy. Let’s see, I’ve read Imajica The Dominion and Imajica The Reconciliation by Clive Barker and thoroughly enjoyed them. I also read Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami, Dune and Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land – that’s more sci fi? I haven’t read any of these kinds of books in a long while.

    I mainly stick to memoir, books about writing, spiritual reading and the classics. For example, next up for me, is Lolita Vladimir Nabokov but I am currently in the middle of Jesus a Pilgrimage by Fr. James Martin, SJ and Chuck Wendig’s The Kick-Ass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Leaping by Brian Doyle (short stories) and just started another The Moment: Wild, Poignant, Life-Changing Stories from 125 Writers and Artists Famous & Obscure by Larry Smith. Kind of varied and has no real rhyme or reason. What is the quintessential, must read epic fantasy novel? Teach me!

  34. So late to the off on this one! I’m still reading THANMIR WAR by the way, and when I’ve finished, I will definitely post reviews wherever you want them. I’ll even do a post on my blog (not that I have many followers at the moment). I love all branches of fantasy, although I could never write it myself. I’m a boring paranormal/sci fi/ adventure type of writer, but I can understand the book tour problem, because even when I approached a few hosts I got “we’re not taking indie writers any more” or they just didn’t respond at all.
    I’m with a couple of other people here who say, so what if its 6 months old, its still a baby. And why should anyone dictate when and how we try to promote our books! Go for it, you are a talented writer, and I know, because I’m reading the book! πŸ™‚
    Sorry for the long response, couldn’t help myself. πŸ˜‰

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