Society of the Old West

From early westward expansion through the early 20th Century.

I've noticed something odd about my Jesse James book.  It simply hasn't been as well received as my other two titles, and it's left me scratching my head wondering why.


I've entered all three of my titles in various literary competitions over the years, and my first two books, on the O.K. Corral and Billy the Kid, did well.  While neither won their categories, both came out as finalists. When one considers just how fierce the competition is among children's books or juvenile fiction, just being a finalist is a major accomplishment.  Sadly, my book on the James gang simply did not fare well.  Even an endorsement by Marshall Trimble, the official historian for the state of Arizona, did not help.  It was entered in several competitions, and zip, zero nada. Nothing.  Not even an honorable mention.


I've also noticed the Jesse James book does not get as much attention at book signings. People will smile and pick up the Billy the Kid and O.K. Corral books, but they tend to gloss over the Jesse James book. Now keep in mind, all three cover illustrations were by the same artist, and all three covers have a similar layout and design.  However, it's always been a hard sell.  About the only time people will buy it is when they're purchasing the entire series.  Granted, I don't regret writing the book, and I certainly have no intention of taking it out of print, but it's got me wondering.  Is there some sort of stigma about Jesse James that has carried over into modern times?


Just curious.




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Comment by Gayle Martin on September 25, 2011 at 10:20am
In hindsight I probably should have picked a different topic to end my trilogy with, but my mother's family all hailed from Missouri, and one of the stories that I had been told growing up was that were were descended from Jesse James' uncle. Turned out not to be the case.  However, my paternal grandmother's family came from Lincoln County, New Mexico.  Believe it or not, I could have dealt with being related to Jesse James a lot easier than I could have dealt with being descended from a Dolonite.  Fortunately, I am related to none of the above.  And that's a good thing.
Comment by Mel Graf on September 25, 2011 at 9:30am
Concur with Kevin.  I find James and his associates an interesting group to study but I don't admire them in any way.  John Newman Edwards tried to start that "Robin Hood" nonsense but it doesn't hold water in my view.  Plenty of Missourians were adversely affected by the border wars and the Civil War but opted to live peaceful and lawful lives after it was all over with.  Jesse James opted to live a life of crime and he ultimately found his end by the barrel of a gun.  I can understand how making Jesse James the subject of juvenile literature might be a hard sell.  But Gayle, I always wish you success with your books!
Comment by Gayle Martin on September 21, 2011 at 11:50am
I think you're right, Kevin.  I've also noticed that the Kindle versions of O.K. Corral and Billy the Kid are selling on Amazon, but I don't think I've sold any Kindle versions of James Gang yet.
Comment by Gayle Martin on September 21, 2011 at 8:41am
Might be right on that one, Boots, which says a lot for our current education system.  (But when it comes to building bikes, no one can beat Paul Tuetel, Jr.)
Comment by dirtrider on September 20, 2011 at 8:03pm
Hey,, wadeaminute.  Have ah jest  ben insulted?  I think I resemble thet remark.....
Comment by Carbine on September 20, 2011 at 7:51pm

It could possibly be a regional stigma Gayle. BTK and the O.K. Corral took place in New Mexico and Arizona respectively and the locals and tourists can relate to that in that the people and events happend in "the local market" so to speak. Just like in the books - the family is on vacation, or planning to visit these places, and wants to read up on the history.

With Jesse James the "local market" is in another region way out of sight. Just my guess. Maybe ponder how you could market the book in Missouri and Minnesota. BTK and the O.K. probably wouldn't sell as well there but you might hit the jackpot with JJ.

While in Missouri, at any Costco or Bass Pro Shop, it might help if you cover your "Milt Dirtrider for President"  bumper sticker. Maybe cover it before you hit the stateline just to be double safe.

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