Michael Wertenberg has ranked my novels according to his tastes on his YouTube channel. He's been an appreciative reader of my books for a while. Someone that I would classify as an ideal reader. And his taste, like mine, leans to adult horror and the literary.


Curiously, however, I see few midships and patterns in the way that readers rank my books in order of their preferences. Mostly, I'm just relieved they get read, and talked about. But, with the exception of The Ritual most often being cited as the most common favourite, and Lost Girl being the least favourite, reader preferences vary widely enough for me to struggle to discern a pattern. I've also seen the Ritual/Lost Girl preference inverted.


Even this example is a result of variables - chiefly, the way the books are published. The Ritual has been out longer, is often core stock, and has been read more widely, and there is a film. Lost Girl, however, has hardly touched bookshops on the high street. I've only ever seen it in a handful of bookshops. And it doesn't look like a horror novel either.


To be clear, writing a novel is an ordeal, so I only attempt it when really compelled by the idea of a story. This can lead to some strange offerings, but following trends wouldn't work for me. So, I don't crowd please, or have one of my eyes on charts or literary fashion. But, despite the fact that I couldn't change what I am writing, I am interested in what readers think.


And as a keen collector of data, I'm never sure what to make of this very mixed trend of reader preferences, but my instincts tell me that a lack of consistency in reader favouritism across my range is a good sign, as there is an even split of favourites selected across the whole range of titles. This way, the author avoids the accusation of his "early stuff was better". Michael's favourite book gives me a great deal of satisfaction.


Also, what I do find encouraging, is that my books that more clearly present themselves as horror, tend to be more popular with readers. This is why I've always believed that, from a publishing perspective, aiming for a wider general adult readership, by removing the "taint" of horror, from a horror novel, is flawed. As is giving horror imagery to a book that is not horror. That was once endemic. Horror has a huge audience but it doesn't tend to buy books in Smiths or ASDA. I digress.


I'm never entirely comfortable, either, with rankings and hierarchies of books, due to the subjectivity (taste, sophistication, experience, education, even literacy) involved - though my books  often feature in all kinds of lists and rankings online. But, despite having reservations about their general value, I am fascinated by them. A conundrum. But, if you get sufficient momentum as an author, you will be lauded just as easily as you will be denounced as an incompetent fraud. So, the readers that I tend to pay attention to are the ideal readers who have read most or all of my books, and who are well read in the field. Important people. To me. Like Michael.


Anyway, thank you, Michael, for your thoughts and for spending so much time on this video.

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