Friday, September 2, 2011

Revisiting Profanity

blog picI always take emails that I get from readers very, very seriously. Actually, I listen to them just as much as I do to my editors.

And I watch market trends, too, especially for the types of books that I write (traditional mysteries, also known as cozies.) I try not to take myself too seriously…it’s really all about the readers and what they want.

So when I received an email a few days ago from a lady who expressed her interest in reading my books, but first wanted to know if I used profanity in my series, I paid attention.

This isn’t the first time I’ve received an email like that. In addition, I’ve also noticed a rise in sites like Clean Cozy Mysteries and Genre Reviews (with a blog subtitle that states: In Search of Well-Written, Clean Novels), and an Amazon forum topic on ‘clean mysteries'. It all makes me think.

Let’s face it, I’m trying to accommodate as many readers as possible. Do I write for myself? Yes. But I wouldn’t try to be published at all if I were only writing for myself. I’m not trying to be an artist—I’m trying to provide entertainment. Am I losing anything by writing John cursed, or using alternate expletives in place of real ones? If I’m not, why not just leave it out?

I’ve never gotten an email from a reader saying how much they enjoy profanity in my books.

Now of course, this only goes so far. If readers asked me to try my hand at a genre that was out of my reach or to make a change in my books that I felt strongly against doing, I’d have to politely tell them that was something I couldn’t accommodate them with.

But if there’s a slight change I can make that could possibly pick up new readers without losing old ones? Sure, I’m willing to make that change.

In fact, I have. I let the lady know that I had a book coming out in November with no profanity in it, and a series debuting next year that was expletive-free, too. But I couldn’t direct her to my first three books. :)

How about you? How far are you willing to go to make your book reach more readers? How much do your readers factor into what you write?