1. The reader is too young
While I originally intended Gift of the Phoenix for adults, at least half of my readers are teens or preteens. I know some stores and libraries shelve it in the young adult section and it does well there. (I’d say the split between genders is about equal.)
Teen readers are good to go, but if I have a preteen at my table (or the parent of a preteen) and they want to know if Gift of the Phoenix is for them, I check their reading level.
I usually ask if they’ve read the later Harry Potter books (the earlier books in the series have a lower reading level). If the answer is yes, they can handle my book just fine.
Ditto for those precocious 10-year-old readers who are reading The Hobbit or Catching Fire.
If young readers aren’t at that level yet, I tell them they’re not quite ready for my book. But someday! And I encourage them to keep reading. I love meeting kids who love to read.
2. I can’t tell if the reader will like my kind of fantasy
If you like Harry Potter, Eragon, or Lord of the Rings, chances are excellent you’ll like Gift of the Phoenix.
You like Percy Jackson but not Harry Potter? You like Catching Fire but not Lord of the Rings? You’ve never even read Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?
Well, then I don’t really know if you’ll like Gift of the Phoenix. I steer people toward my website and encourage them to read the first few chapters for free. If you like the first few chapters, you’ll probably love the book.
3. There are parental objections to magic
My books are appropriate for young readers. I’ll say it again, my books are completely appropriate for young readers. No worries there.
Once, however, a young girl told me she’s not allowed to read books with wizards and spells. I immediately told her my book has wizards and spells and her mom probably wouldn’t want her reading it.
The magic in Gift of the Phoenix is completely fictional. I made it all up. (I had a blast doing it, too.) I, personally, don’t have a problem with kids reading about made-up magic. But if you don’t want your kids reading about wizards and spells, you won’t hear me telling them to do differently.
Every now and then I come across new authors who are very focused on making sales. They don’t want people lending their books to friends, they want those friends to buy the book. They don’t care if someone will like their book or not, they just want the sale.
I don’t really care about the sale. Yeah, this is my career and sales support my writing addiction. But in the end, what I really care about are readers.
More importantly, satisfied readers.
If someone loves my book enough to lend it to a friend, I’m thrilled.
If the library frequently has a hold list for my book, I don’t see that as a list of lost sales, I see that as a list of enthusiastic readers. And I’m delighted.
If you’re not into epic fantasy adventures, I’m not going to try to persuade you to buy my book just so I can collect a few bucks in royalties. Why would I want you to read my book and dislike it? I don’t!
No book is going to win over every reader on the planet. I’m a reader, too, and I have my preferences. Some books interest me and some don’t. Nothing personal against the author (or the author’s financial plans). Gift of the Phoenix is no different. Your book is no different.
Find your readers. Don’t worry about the rest.