How to build audience loyalty: a lesson from Sam Peters

isbn9781473214750A few weeks ago, I listened to an audiobook – “From Darkest Skies”, by Sam Peters – and  enjoyed it so much I immediately emailed the author about it. This is extremely rare for me. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve ever done it in nearly seven years of Audible membership.

It’s an SF book, but in practice it’s very much in the noir genre. On a particularly inhospitable planet, someone’s up to no good, and it’s down to the hero, Keon Rause, to work out exactly what and exactly who. And do either of these answers involve his dead wife? She says not.

Sam Peters’ worldbuilding is enviably complete, and the planet Magenta’s hideous weather and back-breaking gravity feel real right from the start. And to aid him in his sleuthing, Keon has probably the most realistic team of characters that I’ve ever encountered in fiction, all of whom come across as real, rounded people, especially in the version narrated by Peter Noble.

One of these characters in particular was the reason I wrote to the author. Voiced as though he comes from the north of England somewhere (Burnley? Bolton?), Bix Rangesh is a total nightmare to work with – he doesn’t stick to procedure, he’s got no respect for authority and he’s far too familiar with the various players in the Magentan underworld. But he also gets results, and clearly whenever Bix is around it’s party time, whether you felt like having a party or not. Increasingly, as the book went on, I found myself worrying that he was going to be killed off. Yeah, he’s that good.

So I wrote to Sam Peters and said, essentially, ‘nice job, thanks for Bix, glad he’s not dead’.

And I didn’t get a reply.

Now, I know that authors are busy people. I gather that “From Darkest Skies” has already been optioned for TV, which is pretty good going for a début novel. And there are a couple of sequels planned. But I did think I’d get a standard “Thank you”.

However, what with the weather and renovation, this hasn’t been uppermost in my thoughts, and I was still intending to download the audiobook of the next installment as soon as it arrives on Audible.

Then yesterday, I did get a reply.

A reply to me, personally, referencing something I’d said in my email, from Bix Rangesh himself!

I actually have, in my inbox, a little piece of original Sam Peters writing! How cool is that?

Anyway, it turns out that the next book in the series, “From Distant Stars” is out for pre-order now from Amazon. Personally, I’m going to hang on for the audio version because it’s so fabulous, but I’ve pre-ordered the paperback version anyway, because according to Bix, “pre-orders totally make a difference to some algorithmy stuff”.

So if you like SF but you only read paper books, buy “From Darkest Skies” and I’ll send you my copy of the second one as soon as it arrives (this time next year).

And if you’re really into audiobooks, buy that instead. In either case, you won’t regret it!

Orion books page for “From Darkest Skies”

Audible page for “From Darkest Skies”