I'll make a confession. Centurion's Daughter hasn't exactly been a best-seller. In fact, royalties for the last year have totalled the princely sum of $50. When I got that news I did two things:
a) said 'Thy will be done' to God;
b) wondered what exactly does make a book a success.
I'm still working on b). Centurion's Daughter is sold through Arx, a small but established publisher specialising in Catholic historical fiction. The editor put a real effort in to publicizing the book, so nobody can blame him. The book itself, I've been told by people who have read it - and not all who have a reason to flatter me - tells an interesting story and is well-written. People like the cover, and the illustrations are a bonus. Oh well.
Looking into things, I get the impression that these days an author is expected to blow as loud a horn as possible, whenever and wherever he can, using every means at his disposal to get his book noticed ahead of the other several hundred thousand hopefuls who are trying to do exactly the same thing. Like getting his family and friends to write favourable reviews on Amazon (not so easy as Amazon is wiseing up and pulling reviews submitted from the same IP address), or even going as far as to post disparaging reviews for rival authors in order to drag their ratings down. Also visiting as many relevant or not-so-relevant sites as possible purely for the purpose of announcing the arrival of one's New Book. Anything that works, or looks like it might work.
Well, quite honestly, I can't be bothered.
Not that it works in any case. The bottom line from people who are the most experienced in this business is that nothing will promote a bad book. Write something worth writing about, write it well, polish it thoroughly, and give it an airing. Then let it go where it will. I flatter myself at least that I've done that.
I'm not grumping. Well, not too much. Right now I'm working (on and off) at a sequel, Crescentius the Great, which takes place about ten years after the events in Centurion's Daughter. Here is the opening chapter, which is probably going to change in a rewrite. Hopefully it will be ready by the end of the year when it will get its airing in turn. Then let it go where it wills. Or God wills. The main thing is that it will have been the best I can do.