Anyone who read this blog with any regularity will know I have a thing about Westerns. Thankfully, I am not the only one, and it’s my pleasure to hand the Blunt Pencil over to Matthew Pizzolato, whose new novel Outlaw is now out! Matthew’s here to talk about the challenges of marketing a Western, something about which I know far too much, so pull up a chair and get yourself comfy…
Now that I have published two Western books, The Wanted Man and Outlaw, I am discovering something that I realized a few years ago when I started looking for markets to submit my short stories. Back then, there really weren’t many places that published Western fiction. Likewise, there are not a lot of places to market a Western novel today. There are a couple of book listing sites but those places don’t promote your work for you.
Writers who work in the Western genre are faced with the task of not only finding marketing opportunities for their fiction, but fighting against what seems to be a stigma against Westerns.
Sometimes in talking to new people, it always shocks me that they seem interested in my work until they find out I write Westerns. Some have bluntly told me they don’t like them or don’t read them and it always leaves me wondering why. Have they actually read one or are they judging them by assumption?
People could be jumping to conclusions about modern Western writing. Perhaps they think of the genre as outdated. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
Early classic Westerns are tales of black and white, of moral absolutes of right and wrong, and there is nothing wrong with those kinds of stories. However, a lot of today’s Westerns explore the gray area.
I think the turning point in the genre came with Clint Eastwood’s film, Unforgiven. That movie is my biggest inspiration, and I think it completely reinvented the Western.
Take for example the success of the AMC series, Hell on Wheels. It is by no means a classic Western. The main character is an antihero and is a far cry from the normal Western protagonist. The characters in Hell on Wheels are not perfect, they are flawed human beings who people can identify with and I think that is the key to the success of the show.
For me, the beauty of the genre is that any kind of story can be told as a Western. It is an unlimited tapestry and the potential is endless. There are a myriad of subgenres ranging from Western Historical Romance to the Weird Western and everything in between from Horror to Mystery. Anyone who likes to read can find a Western they will enjoy.
I think that the key to marketing Westerns in the future is to keep fighting against the stigma. Write stories that breathe fresh air into the genre instead of using the same old clichés, and most of all, never apologize for writing Westerns.
Matthew Pizzolato is a member of Western Fictioneers. His fiction has been published in various online and print magazines. He writes a weekly NASCAR column for Insider Racing News and can be contacted via his personal website: http://www.matthew-pizzolato.com
OUTLAW Book Description
The outlaw Wesley Quaid wants to put the past behind him and start his life anew in another place where no one has ever heard of him. When a mysterious woman he once knew resurfaces, Wesley discovers that a man can’t run from his past anymore than he can run from the kind of man he has become.