Although, you should know, Jerome, Arizona isn’t really a ghost town. It’s an old mining town that made a lot of money out of copper and silver and gold until demand diminished and the mines fell upon hard times. When the jobs started to disappear – and houses began to be swallowed by the pillaged earth – the population dwindled. The miners left and hippies and bikers moved in. When the population of 15,000 dropped to less than 100 hardy souls, the city fathers realized they needed to make some changes.
They did some clever things to bring Jerome back to life. They had the town designated a Historical Landmark. They sponsored music festivals and car races (and provide some terrific footage of one of the races). They opened a museum.
And they proclaimed that their 0.7 square miles was a “ghost town”.
Tourists love ghost towns…safe, clean, non-ghost-filled ghost towns…and the ploy worked. These days, visitors can take a Ghost Van that will give them a tour of the hottest haunts. There are Ghost Tours and Ghost Walks. One of the hotels has a ghost hunt every Thursday, with their patrons given Emf meters to help find their very own spook. Every October, the place is packed. If you’re interested in spending Halloween in that part of Northern AZ, you need to make your reservation now.
Jerome's Main Street lives off of the tourist dollar and it shows. Art galleries and retail shops line the walkway. Restaurants and hotels are featured prominently. There’s a touch of the old hippy/biker vibe to the area but you have to look for it. “Give the people what they want” has become the town’s unofficial philosophy and Jerome is thriving because of it.
Lately, we’ve been wondering if, as writers, we should adopt the “give the readers what they want” philosophy. Because, judging from Amazon’s Best Sellers in Kindle, not that many people are lining up for their daily dose of YA horror or YA suspense. While our book and novella sales have never been strong, they’ve remained steady but -- oh, sadness -- our monthly royalties have yet to approach a living wage.
Then, recently, we had our first "hit".
Not a Top 100 Hit, not even a Top 1000 Hit, but with enough sales to make us sit up and notice. If you didn’t realize we had a new story coming out, hey, why would you? We didn't mention it here or on Facebook, it came out under our pen name's other pen name, and we failed to do any proper promotion. Without any kind of push, this story has already sold more copies than any single title we have except for After Things Went Bad.
We puzzled over this for a bit. We think we know why sales climbed for this piece but we’re not sharing; not today, anyway. We want to reach out to a couple of our fellow writers for their thoughts, too. Once we've got our act together, we'll do a proper post and see if we've solved the mystery -- or if we just got lucky.
Until next week, then….
Quote of the day: 'If the cash is there, we do not care'. What kind of life philosophy is that, man?" (From the very fun movie, Deep Rising)