Give A Girl Free Time and She Ponders

November 20, 2008 at 7:49 am 13 comments

First, yes, I’m still alive. My brain is intact again. I’ve even considered revising Hazel and Brice’s story until the 1st. *’cause I can’t wait that long to start on the next story. My mojo is still buzzing.*

I’ve been thinking about what really makes an author’s career. Funny it was the theme I learned at RWA–Author Branding. I’m not talking platform or promotion. I’m talking about what I will be known for writing i.e. the type of stories I write.

“Romance with snark” is my tagline. I just liked the sound of it when I picked it, but it really does define my stories. You won’t get a picture perfect heroine from me. She won’t be willowly. She won’t be made of sugar. Okay, she’ll be a smartass or have a friend who will be. The hero will take as good as he gets. Yes, you’ll have emotion, but it won’t be sappy by no means. That’s what I write. That’s what I’m promising my readers. That’s my brand.

What does all this mean?

Think of books like people. You meet a person. You get that first impression and that impression is going to make them love or hate you *or reserve judgment*. The next time you meet them they give you the same impression. Now lets say that third meeting they act completely different. You start to wonder if this person was on meds. You are going to be wary of the next meeting. Worse case scenario–you meet this person a fourth time and it’s nothing like the first three meetings. You are going to veer way left every time you see this person coming. They’re not stable.

Now how can this make or break your career?

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s the same with your books. Your career will be built on your previous books. It’s why when author changes genre or even their sub-genre they change their name. One example of this is Samantha Graves *hi, Sam*. Under this name she writes romantic suspense. Under her C.J. Barry name she writes futuristics/SF romance.

When you change what you write you might as well write under a different name. You will be changing your fanbase with each book. Some people will stay with you and others will veer way left when they see your book coming.

Okay for those in the back who are shaking their head, unbelieving, let me give you some names:

Nora Roberts
Carly Phillips
Mary Higgins Clark
Jennifer Crusie
Meg Cabot

Think of all the books they have and then think of why you pick these authors. Or, have you ever found yourself saying, “I’m in a {insert whatever author’s name here} mood.”

That’s brand baby.

Have you thought about yours?

Are you completely against this idea?

Hash it out in the comments.

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Entry filed under: being published, beliefs, Jenny Crusie, Mojo, musings, promotion, published, publishing goals, publishing woes, purpose, rambling, soul-sucking publishing, writing, writing goals, writing woes. Tags: , , , , .

Dude! More Time Pondering: Goals for December 31st

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jess  |  November 20, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I’m actually at a sort of cross-roads with this. I’m wrtiing more and more *broadly* under the speculative fiction umbrella just when I thought I had settled on YA fantasy. Because the genre has splintered SO much into subgenres, I think you can carry an audience around, say, fantasy OR sci-fi, but of course I’ve been playing leapfrog with the two of those. The first novel I subbed was trad YA fantasy, the next novel I sub is going to be adult fturistic sci-fi.

    This really leaves me wondering what I’m writing next. >.<

  • 2. Amie Stuart  |  November 20, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Allison Winn Scotch has a couple great posts up on branding…just FYI.

    I also think that, when you reach a certain point in your career (ala Nora) that the brand isn’t about what you write, but who you are. Your name becomes your brand. That said, readers know to expect a certain type of book from Nora too.

    I don’t think TOO much about branding right now but I have noticed that when I write futuristics I tend to want to write from a male POV. Not sure what that means LOL

    When it comes to WF, other than having a mainstream voice, I’m not sure what my brand there is either *shrugs* I guess I’ll worry about that when I sell one 😀

  • 3. edie17  |  November 20, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    I write WF and paranormal, but my voice is the same on both. I know writers who change their voices for different kind of books. In that case, they should definitely use a different name. IMO. But not so much with the same voice.

    Jayne Ann Krentz uses a different names for her paranormals, contemps and historicals, but the same voice. When she started the 3 genres, she did it to reinvent herself. (Can you believe her numbers were ever that low? I can’t. I’ve been buying her books forever!) And I think at the time, people naturally used different names for different subgenres. Not as much anymore.

  • 4. Jess  |  November 20, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    I agree – because the genres are all so crossed-over, there’s less pressure to have to reinvent to traverse them. Somebody writing paranormal romance who jumps to fantasy with romantic elements can probably keep her name, as long as she has a website or some sort of outlet to let her readers know it’s not QUITE the same expectation, you know?

    I’d like to keep my name for all my spec-fic, but if/when I do write my mainstream ideas, I’d want a different name because they’d be so different in content, regardless of voice branding. I wouldn’t keep private that it was me, but just for delineation and expectations, I would want to do that.

    Or, of course, if I sold a book and it tanked, well, then you don’t get much of a choice on the matter, now do you?

  • 5. coffeegirl88  |  November 20, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    And this is exactly why I have two online idenities. When I started writing seriously toward the getting published goal I wasn’t sure I wanted to publish under my real name, so Rose Ayn was born. I’m still not sure what name I’ll publish under, I suspect it will depend entirely upon the mood I’m in the day the contract arrives. Whenever that is.

    I don’t have a problem with it. As a matter of fact I tend to agree that you’ll lose readers if you suddenly change genres. Of course I’m continually surprised to read rants by readers who were shocked, just shocked, that the book they picked up by romance author a was actually a sci/fi thriller. I mean, the books usually have bare chested men on the cover and suddenly it’s a three-eyed green monster with a ray gun but they still expected a romance. *eye roll*

  • 6. Melissa Blue  |  November 20, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    .<

    Swinging wide when you are writing I’m not against. Come on, I just wrote a YA. I don’t think a writer can grow if they don’t test or stretch their own limitations. Now subjecting your agent, edtior and readers to those same whims is dicey. Or so I believe.

    Also true Fantasy and Sci-Fi can carry the same audience. At the same time I do think it’s a good idea to give your readers a heads up. But I feel sorry for the people picking up books in the romance section (because that’s what the author is known for writing) and it’s totally not a romance.

  • 7. Melissa Blue  |  November 20, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    I also think that, when you reach a certain point in your career (ala Nora) that the brand isn’t about what you write, but who you are.

    Definitely. Nora Roberts is Nora Roberts no matter what she writes.She has no qualms telling her readers that when she sits down to write all she knows is love will conquer all and good will defeat evil.

    I don’t think TOO much about branding right now but I have noticed that when I write futuristics I tend to want to write from a male POV.

    Even if you’re not thinking about it, I think you do end up branding yourself. I think brand is very much wrapped up in voice, your values, and the themes you gravitate towards.

  • 8. Melissa Blue  |  November 20, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    I’ve been buying her books forever!) And I think at the time, people naturally used different names for different subgenres. Not as much anymore.

    I think this has a lot to do with how hard it is to build up a new name. It’s come down to what is a smarter business decision. Start from scratch or use the name everyone recognizes.

  • 9. Melissa Blue  |  November 20, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    As a matter of fact I tend to agree that you’ll lose readers if you suddenly change genres. Of course I’m continually surprised to read rants by readers who were shocked, just shocked, that the book they picked up by romance author a was actually a sci/fi thriller.

    It’s definitely more of the same complex. As a writer I wanted to fight this type of thing, but it’s what’s expected in this industry. It’s how you build a fanbase. Not saying that’s the way you would have to write forever, but it’s a good idea if you want a long career.

  • 10. Slave Driver  |  November 20, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    My mother is a big Nora Roberts fan. She recently had a conversation with another woman about books and the woman expressed her distaste for *Romance* writers and “formulary “books. My mom asked “Do you like J.D. Robb?” and the woman was a HUGE fan. Apparently not a big enough fan to know NR=JDR… So, “since the publishing world is highly subjective…” And Stephen King’s son recently was “outed”, he’s been writing under the name “Joe Hill” so he’s not riding on dad’s coat tails. Good for him. There is a certain amout of expectation when you already have (or your dad already has) a reputation, like typecasting.

  • 11. Raine  |  November 21, 2008 at 8:52 am

    I think you probably have a few good points here.

    When I first started, I had every intention of writing under two names–one for ‘hot’ romance, one for mystery or paranormal, secured the domains, etc.
    People DO come to expect certain things from your writing by what they’ve previously read, whether you like it or not.
    I think if you’ve become pretty well established, and readers are in love with your voice/ideas, they’d probably follow you anywhere (or, at least, give that something “different” a fighting chance).
    But if you’re just garnering an audience, and you’re all over the place, they may not choose to follow you along the path (although, of course, you might pick up different readers along the way).

    The branding idea always rubbed me the wrong way. Sort of that box thing again, y’know?
    However, I can see it from a reader’s pov.
    But as long as the author knows what jumping ships may mean–more power to ’em.

  • 12. Becky  |  November 21, 2008 at 9:58 am

    I think as long as you keep going and not give up, you will do great in your career. There are quite a few great author’s who have been turned down by publishers a time or two, but continue on their goal path- they end up doing very well. Mary Patrick Kavanaugh is a perfect example of this, she is actually holding a funeral for her unpublished book- she has a great attitude and sense of humor.

  • 13. Lyn  |  November 21, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    This is why I can never write under my maiden name: folks would expect to open the book and find plans for aircraft transmissions. My married name is no good either as folks would expect either gothic horror or a plea for more shoes for the Continental Army. Maybe I can take a leaf from a friendly author’s book and name myself after my favorite color. So, how do you like Lyn Eggplant? That would be for mysteries only. Lyn Aubergine for romance. There ya go!

    Hi, Mel!

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