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Dear Extra Squeeze Team, How Do You Plan a Book Launch?

February 14, 2020 by in category Featured Author of the Month, The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , , , ,

Each Friday in February we’ll be featuring The Extra Squeeze Team.

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Have you a question for The Extra Squeeze Team? Send them to us by using this handy link.

Dear Extra Squeeze, How Do You Plan a Book Launch?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

When I published my first book over thirty years ago I assumed the publisher would have all sorts of glittery, fantastic promotions planned that would shoot me to literary stardom.

Not!

In those days – just like these days – the author is responsible for launching their book and establishing their brand. The good news is that now the opportunity for promotion is controllable. I maintain a new release plan that has proven manageable and effective over the course of more than thirty books.

1) Write a good book: professional, exciting, as error free as possible and packaged beautifully. All the promotion in the world will not support an inferior product.

2) Set up your pre-orders and then create excitement with a sneak peek of a few chapters on your website (don’t forget buy links at the end of these chapters).

3) Alert interested parties starting with distribution channels. Smashwords, for instance, has an alert for author’s running BookBub ads. Once they know your ad date, they will pass the information along to their bookstores, those bookstores will consider your book for further promotion. BookBub Partners has an automated per-order alert for your followers. Amazon has the same. Read the distributor’s newsletters and find out what free opportunities are there for the taking.

4) When your manuscript is ready, start submitting it for reviews (I love PRG and InD’Tale).

5) Continue to nurture and grow your social media followers and plan affordable advertising geared toward look-alike audiences. Try sites like LitRing (have loved the 4 promos I’ve done with them). Many advertising sites won’t take pre-order advertising but purchase spots for immediately after your launch while your book is new. I am not a fan of blog tours. I have only paid to do one but I couldn’t quantify the results so for me this isn’t part of my strategy.

The bottom line is this: write well, be aware of what is available, be as genre specific as possible in your target marketing and remember that the launch is the beginning and not the end of your marketing efforts for your book and your brand.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Marketers say someone has to see your book 7 or 8 times before they buy. I’m not a marketer, so I can’t vouch for that but all the on-line exposure of a blog tour must be good. It can’t hurt – or can it? Just as a poorly written book will not sell, a poorly presented blog tour will turn off your audience before they even turn on. You need to leave a positive, compelling impression.

 

Prepare Several Blurbs

 

Since the content should be unique to each site you’ll need to prepare several blurbs – those enticing peeks at your story – not to mention tweets and whatever other social media is on offer. You can approach a blurb in different ways: lead with the most startling action element, lead with the dilemma, lead with a spotlight on character or setting, but lead with a sentence that hooks.

 

Describe Your Story Well

 

However you describe your story it’s critical that it be well written. This is, after all, the reader’s first taste of your voice. I’ve read choppy, unstrung blurbs that show what might be an interesting plot if you overlook the way the words are strung together. Regardless of how intriguing the plot sounds my immediate reaction is: This person can’t write. I won’t be reading this one.

 

Edit. Edit. Edit.

 

Of course, you’ve written a great book. It’s been carefully crafted, closely edited for errors in all respects from plot and character development to syntax and grammar. Your beta readers love it. Now you have to craft the words to sell the story without a single spoiler and with the same silver voice of the book. Craft your blurbs and interview responses with the same care you gave your book. And edit, edit, edit.

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

 


You need a PR plan to succeed. Straight up, any plan is better than no plan…and even if you are working with a traditional publisher, your plan may be the only plan that is ever created with much concern about building your long-term career. Accept early that your success as an author is not your publisher’s concern. Their business is centered around the products they have curated for their brand; it includes the book you created–not you.

The reality is, take care of yourself and build your own business.

Phase One is prep time.

 

Build or refresh your website. Connect your social media platforms to your website. Make sure that you use one author picture across platforms so that your brand has a singular face. Establish a media page to create and post your downloadable press kit. Include links to downloadable high-resolution images of your book cover and your author photo. Make sure you have a landing page for book sales.

Prepare a press release that offers the announcement of your book to share with your local paper, bloggers, industry influencers, and reviewers. Don’t know who they are? Figure it out. Clearly define the top four niches of your audience and start building a database of contacts to help you reach each target. In Phase One, fully create the day-by-day choreography for book launch week.

Phase Two is book launch week.

 

Synchronize your PR efforts to reach every corner of your world with news about your book in the seven days of the week that your book is first released. Everyone you can imagine needs to know now, all at once. Either plan a parade of activity or nothing will happen.

Phase Three is steady-to-the-course season.

 

PR efforts must be sustained. That means shift your message from new book announcement to relevant reasons to discover your book, reasons to peek inside, opportunities to read and buy.

How does a blog tour figure into all this? Up to you. The key is to decide when, how, and if you want a blog tour. It is hard work with lots of moving parts. It is a godsend for some authors and hellish for others.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


I wish I knew the answer to this one because if I did, I would be a ££££££££££££-ionaire by now! I can tell you what NOT to do. When I launched my first book, I did little more than list it on Amazon and submit it to Smashwords. I had no idea about advertising (still learning on that front), and I published in secret, under a pseudonym, so had no friend or colleague network to exploit.

 

Tip 1: Don’t go it alone – if you know people who can help, use them. This applies to other authors. If they see your work and like it, they might team up with you to do a newsletter promo or similar.

 

Tip 2: Don’t do what soooo many authors do and sign up to a forum, then post once about your amazing new book. It won’t get you sales, but it will get people’s backs up (may have done this <coughs>).

 

Tip 3: Don’t list your pre-orders at full price. If you’re unknown, no one will take a chance on you anyway so you may have to lure customers in by being cheap!

 

Positive tips:

  • Do look at advertising opportunities, and check out writers’ forum reviews on their effectiveness.
  • Do make sure all of your pages are set up nicely – web page, Goodreads page, Facebook page… etc. so that readers can look you up, contact you and leave reviews easily.
  • Try to get on a few blog interviews.
  • Do be careful with your PR and the claims you make. It’s perfectly okay to brag about your past achievements, as long as they’re verifiable. I’ve noticed a few writers recently who claim to have sold 200,000 books in a month – you go to their Amazon page, and their book is ranked #100,008,282,212! It’s very easy to see through such fabrications, and once a writer loses trust from their readership, it’s unlikely to be regained.

Last of all, I would say to keep your expectations low. I know that sounds dreadfully pessimistic, but realistically, very few authors do well on one book without the backing of an expensive PR agency. It’s only once you have a good body of work out there and plenty of positive reviews that more readers will start to notice you.

If you have a question or topic you would like the Extra Squeeze Team to tackle please use the this contact form.

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The Extra Squeeze Team: Writing Books and Story Structure

November 30, 2019 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , ,

Dear Extra Squeeze Team,

We have two questions this month.

Question #1: Do you like books on writing? What are your three favorite books on writing?

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

Here are my three favorite books on the craft of writing. I love what these writers have to say… and how they think… and the encouragement they offer. Two of these books I first read decades ago…and, just to be sure, I re-read them this year and still love the breathless excitement and the truths they provide.

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki
Writing Juvenile Stories and Novels: How to Write and Sell Fiction for Young People by Phyllis A. Whitney

BONUS ROUND. Books on writing are important…BUT, here are my four favorite books on surviving the decision to become a writer. Each of these share something that for many writers will be more important than honing the craft of writing or studying the specific industry know-how. Spoiler Alert: Believe in yourself and your dream…don’t give up on yourself no matter how many times you are rejected…be aware that the road less traveled is frightening but worth the effort. And, please don’t wait for someone else to make your dream happen for you…you just gotta do it yourself.

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Oh! The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by Shel Silverstein

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


Is it really shameful that I’ve never read a book on writing? Oh dear, it probably is, isn’t it?!! I’m going to hide over here in the Naughty Writers’ corner and let the others take this one…

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

I must confess, I have never read a book on writing. I have never taken a class. My education came through the school of hard knocks (editors doing the knocking) and osmosis because I am an avid reader.

Question #2: My critique partner keeps yammering on about story structure? Do I HAVE to follow a formula?

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

No, you do not.  Likewise, you do not have to write books other people will read and you do not have to create work that is anywhere near commercially viable. Your critique partner is trying to alert you to the alarming way your work is turning out. Your story may ramble and wander about. Your work probably lacks the structure needed to give readers the experience they demand.  What can you do? Start by exploring the notion that story structure and formula are not exactly the same thing, and neither are evil. I think formulas can provide an important illumination for your chosen genre. If you are a new writer, following a proven formula can allow you to lean on something that works while you develop your skillsets. Structure is a different kind of thing.  It is a design requirement to make sure your work has the scaffolding needed to support a reader. Like an architect designing any building, writers must accept that writing projects require a certain framework to function. So formula is like building a line of cookie cutter houses. Structure is the engineering rules you follow that allows iconic buildings and cookie cutter houses to stand up at all.  All to say: listen a little more to the critique partner and explore what you are being told.

The advice about structure that your critique partner is yammering about is a must if you want to be a successful writer.

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

There are no hard and fast rules in art, but there is a reason why successful novelists pay attention to structure. Think of your manuscript as a maze. It is your job to guide the reader through it to a satisfying conclusion. If you decide to have some fun and lead them down paths that are confusing and unrecognizable, there is a good chance they won’t play your game because you’re making them work too hard. Instead, they will find someone who weaves a structured tale. So, ask yourself what is important: pushing a tried and true envelope for the sake of an artistic fling or gaining a loyal audience?

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Dear Extra Squeeze Team: What Do You Do With Horrible Reviews

July 31, 2019 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , ,

Dear Extra Squeeze Team: What do you do with horrible one-star reviews that were written by someone who clearly didn’t read your book?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

Readers are smart and they recognize that review for what it is. I once got a low star review by a woman who wrote, “I haven’t read the book yet.” She was honest, I was not happy, Amazon said it met their standards so that was that. I didn’t spend anymore time thinking about it because there was nothing I could do. Luckily, the next review was a five star. Have a glass of wine. This too shall pass.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


There’s not a great deal you can do with these reviews. Some can be flagged and you can ask the retailer to get rid of them, but there must be CLEAR evidence that the reviewer has not read the book and is not reviewing the item for sale. Sometimes retailers will leave the review in place if the company printing or dispatching the book is at fault, even if the book itself is perfectly good. If it’s a single one-star review amongst a sea of kinder reviews, then I would shrug my shoulders and move on. Most readers will have the brains to look through the reviews and decide which ones are reliable. We have to trust them to do that!

 

If it’s your first and only review, and you know it’s not to do with the content, presentation or delivery of the book, and the review isn’t going anywhere, then I might consider republishing the book. ONLY in those circumstances, however.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

 

Negative book reviews cut deep. All writers experience it at some time. Writers have to live with it like dancers have to live with blisters. Amazon has help sites where an author can manage reviews. I don’t know of any proactive response an author can make if a poor review shows up on book review sites or newsletters or blogs or anywhere else a rotten review can appear. I get how painful that can be, but one bad review does not sink your career.

The best approach is to learn something from bad reviews. It stings, but consider how the negative reviews measures up to the positive reviews. Compare them for any mention of shared issues. It could be that some readers were captivated with the story even while the manuscript had issue – issues important enough to mention. It could be grammar, characters, plot or just a lack of a good edit. Listen to that and take steps to improve. Hear your readers. It’s their ear you want to woo.

I’m not sure how one can determine that a review was written by someone who hadn’t read the book.  People don’t process the same information in the same way. Interpretation is everything. Maybe they just didn’t get it. Maybe they just don’t get anything.  I’ve read reviews that left me wondering if the reviewer and I had even read the same book.  You know what story you told and if one person didn’t see that then it’s worth a shrug at best, but not a meltdown. Carry on.

And there are those types that cannot pass up a chance to point out errors of any kind. I hope it’s a hobby but it feels like an obsession. You can find letters to the editor on every newspaper site where a reader takes issue with some slip like non-agreement of verb and noun, or a misplaced comma or apostrophe. That misstep is so important to that reader they feel justified in doubting any part of the article.

Those naysayers abound and humor is the best response.  There are a number of books where authors have addressed the readers who’ve picked at their work and the best one are really funny. This one is black humor like much of Ruth Rendell: Piranha to Scurfy. Read it for a little happy therapy. Bad reviews are a fact of a writer’s life.

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

You have two choices.  You can get over it or you can obsess over it.  Both are pretty hard to do.  If you go the get-over-it route, you need to sell yourself on the idea that the reader was stupid and mean-spirited, blamed you for something out of your control like a late delivery, or simply didn’t even read the work at all.  Any of those could be true, but probably it is even a simpler issue.  Your book wasn’t exactly what the reader wanted in the moment.  Sometimes, I want to watch Columbo but I end up tuning in to Silence of the Lambs.  I would like to blame Amazon Prime for the mistake, but when I do, most people can figure out where the fault really lies. Expect a similar response from others who see your horrible one-star review. If you decide to follow the obsess-over-it route, you can dive deep into the nefarious waters of tracking down the reader and starting a fight about it. Not a great way to go. Energy doesn’t deserve to be wasted on someone who clearly didn’t read your work and gave you a horrible one-star review. Be aware.  Watch for legitimate constructive criticism. Let the rest go.

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Do I Need a Pseudonym to Write Fiction?

February 28, 2019 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team, Writing tagged as , , ,
Do I Need a Pseudonym | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Dear Extra Squeeze Team

Do I need a pseudonym to write fiction?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze
Rebecca Forster 
USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

No, you don’t need a pseudonym to write fiction unless you write hard core erotica and you don’t want your mom to know. I used a pseudonym twice in my 30 year career. The first time I was writing for Harlequin and they contractually owned an author’s name. That meant if I wanted to write for anyone else I would have to leave the name–and any consumer base that had accrued to that name–behind. The second time was when I wrote my first legal thriller. The men were big back then–Grisham, Turow–and the publisher wanted readers to assume I was a man. I went by my last name but initials for my first. There was no ‘about the author’ in those books and the whole thing felt very odd. In this day and age when building a brand is your sole responsibility, own your name and build a loyal readership around it.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange
Jenny Jensen
Developmental  editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and
indie.

Traditionally, publishing under an assumed name was a useful tactic when a writer crossed genres. A non-fiction author whose brand is based on expertise in hunting edible fungi would want to use a pseudonym to publish a steamy romance. A fresh identity to woo a new readership avoids any confusion, possibly even irritation from those readers whose expectations would not be met. A reader who gets a lusty countess when they’re expecting a description of the spotted Nigerian toadstool will not be a repeat reader.

Fiction writers often use pseudonyms to switch between fiction genres. Robert Galbraith jumps (beautifully, I might add) between wizards and detective fiction. Harry Potter fans are diehards so it was wise for J.K. Rowling to present her new detective fiction under a pseudonym. Otherwise fans might have cast a withering spell when their expectations were squashed. Cormoran Strike solving crime was a big step off brand from Harry Potter.

It wasn’t long before the public learned that Galbraith was J.K. Rowling—with a brand that strong anything she writes would be impossible to hide, and why hide it. With her pseudonym public knowledge readers knew what to expect. Rowling’s brand remains intact and Galbraith’s work took off with a new readership. Impossible to say how many of those new readers were enticed simply by the author’s name, but the work stands solidly on it’s own merits now.

Your brand may not be as mighty as Rowling’s but it is as important to your success. No reason not to use a pseudonym to publish your fiction and no reason not to be completely open about it. Supplement the marketing of the fiction by using your existing fan base and marketing tools to launch this new facet of your career. Share the pseudonym on your twitter feed, tout the cover on your pinterest posts, introduce the new personae and the new fiction on your blog. If both your established name and your nom de plume are connected to your brand then fans can seek out whichever genre fits their reading expectations. And your brand is strengthened.


Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange
Robin Blakely
PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

From a branding perspective, maybe you do need a pen name to write fiction. Here are some questions you might ask yourself…if any of your answers are yes, lean toward a pen name. 

Ask: Is my own name too difficult to say, spell, or remember?  Does my own name confuse readers with other authors or commercial brands?  Does the subject matter or the chosen genre of my fiction conflict with the character of the other brands that I am building?  Do I have a plan to manage the transparency required to promote a pen name?  

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, explore the pen name option with enthusiasm and care. Remember: You are the brand.  The books you write are products of the brand. No matter what you do, you must be able to represent your brand and your products with authenticity and with transparency. 

I once advised a mystery-writing dentist to use a pen name because his novel was filled with graphic violence and hot sex scenes. His novel directly conflicted with the business brand for his successful dental practice which was built upon his real name. The novel he had written revealed a side of the mild- mannered doctor that the public did not know and frankly might have been shocked to meet.  In that instance, using a pen name separated the dentist from the writer so that both could be promoted to proper audiences.  A pen name provided some distance between his dental business and his writing business.  A plan for transparency was built from the start so that he could be honest and open if patients realized that their beloved doctor was also that wild novelist.  

Similarly, you might want to consider a pen name if you are writing fiction in genres that conflict with each other. The motivating idea would be to help the reader know and trust the brand name when they search for your work.  The bridge between who you really are and your pen name better be built from the start or it could become problematic unexpectedly with one Did you know social media post.


H.O. Charles
Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array

H.O. is missing again this month. We suspect a long long holiday is to blame.

We're Taking Questions | A Slice of Orange

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Dear Extra Squeeze Team: Do I HAVE to Keep Writing in the Same Genre?

April 30, 2018 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as
Do I have to write in the same genre? | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange
Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

Switching genres is not a black and white issue but a function of the writer’s objective.

 

Writers by nature are a curious, opinionated and creative bunch. That means there is a tendency to write about whatever inspired them. Sadly this impulsive creativity wars with, and can undermine, the business of being creative.

 

So, if you are a writer whose primary concern is to explore all levels of your craft, writing in many different genres will be fulfilling. But if your primary concern were to use your writing to build a creative business, it would be wise to stick to one genre. Here is why:

 

1) Concentrating on one genre creates a dedicated fan base.

2) One genre allows the author to create a cohesive personal brand

3) Readers will know where to find you on the bookshelf whether it is in a brick and mortar or a digital bookstore.

4) Writers usually excel in one genre. To write in a completely different genre that is not as strong as your primary one only serves to dilute your brand.

 

This is not to say you can’t have diversity in your writing career. If you’re a thriller writer, it can take months to craft a 100,000-word novel. Writing shorter genre romantic suspense might satisfy your desire to write in a separate genre, allow you to bring out more books each year, and your output will still appeal to your fan base while growing a cross-over fan base in romantic suspense. Do you write fantasy? Then try magical realism. Do you write romance? Cross over to women’s fiction or sagas. Just remember to make your secondary market tangential to your primary.

 

New writers may want to try on different genres for size to find out where their strengths lie. Established authors who want to try a completely different genre may want to consider a pseudonym. Either way, the first thing to do is decide what your career objective is and then make a genre plan to meet it.

 

[tweetshare tweet=”Dear Extra Squeeze Team: Do I HAVE to keep writing in the same genre?” username=”@A_SliceofOrange”]

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

No, of course not. You can write in any genre you desire. The outcome of that would depend on how much weight you place on each side of art vs business of writing equation.

 

If you weigh in about equal between writing as your expressive art and the business of making that art pay (either recognition or income) you’re well aware of the importance of branding your work for a particular audience. You know the effort involved in creating an online author presence, beginning with a body of solid work, which is publicized and supported by blogs, reviews, interviews, twitter, newsletters, Face Book etc.  It takes time and consistent work to build an author platform and a fan base. Your fans find you and stick with you because they want to read the genre you’re writing in, they expect to read that genre and because you are good enough at that genre to either be building, or have built, a solid following.

 

Traditional publishers shy away from letting an author branch out into a different genre. They don’t want to upset an established cash cow. In that respect the traditional marketing model is similar to the Indie model. Poor A. A. Milne — he really wanted to write murder mysteries (he published one: The Red House Mystery) but his publisher would never let him taint the image of Christopher and friends.  There are major exceptions; J. K. Rowling and Anne Rice are two. Both of these fabulous authors had a huge, loyal fan base before they made the genre jump. When you write that well most of us will follow blindly! I know I do and I’ve not been disappointed.

 

If you know you have great stories in you that cross genre typing you can always publish one genre under a nom de plume. That’s very common. Eventually a well-known writer gets outed as the person behind the false moniker but by that time she’s hooked a whole new audience so everyone is happy.

 

Writing in different genres is, I think, an excellent way to exercise and grow your writing skills. Just the difference in voice between the lady of an Edwardian romance and the female warrior of a dungeons and dragons fantasy would require a major stretch of skills. Add plot mechanics, atmosphere and secondary characters and you’re running a writing marathon. That’s the kind of practice that really sharpens a writer’s eye. I’d never discourage that.

 

The important thing to remember if you want to successfully write in more than one genre is to be sure you can excel in one of them first.

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

No, you don’t have to keep writing in the same genre. But, why would you leave?

 

Over the years, authors have privately shared many reasons for making big shifts in their writing careers.

 

  • Sometimes you start out in the wrong place, and your efforts just aren’t working.
  • Sometimes you change so much as you grow professionally that your story interests carry you to a new genre.
  • Sometimes the original genre changes and you no longer feel at home creating the types of stories you once enjoyed.

 

As a writer, you are a talent-driven brand, and talent-driven brands are fueled by passion.  So, it always makes sense to follow your passion.  However, passion can sometimes be mistaken for a whim.  So, think hard about the shift you are contemplating.  Prepare for what could be ahead.

 

From a PR, Marketing, and Sales perspective think about desired outcomes before you decide to leave your readers and move.

 

  • Consider the risks and the benefits to the business side of your creativity.
  • Take a critical look at what you are building—there is more than your written work at stake.
  • In addition to the books you are creating, you are also steadily building a community of readers.  Jumping ship to another genre will be like moving from your beloved neighborhood to a new community.  The readers you got to know over here may not go with you over there when you leave.  They may like you enough to come visit, but it is likely that they won’t come by often.

PR-wise, you are starting over when you begin to write in a new genre.  Even if you keep writing for your original genre, you will still be starting over reader-wise with your new work. Still, just like in the real world with an apartment or a starter home, a simple move can be just what you needed to live happily ever after.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


 

When you find out, please let me know because I am about to publish a(n) historical fiction novel (after years of writing in fantasy!).

 

There’s no reason why an author wouldn’t have the *ability* to write in another genre, as long as the enthusiasm and skill for it is there. The main thing that I’d be concerned about is audience. The audience you build up whilst writing for one genre may not enjoy your new genre, and it may be that only die-hard fans will want to make the crossing, so to speak. And if they did, the resulting reviews and sales could go either way. Essentially you’d be back at square 1, or perhaps square 1.43, in building a readership for your books.

 

I wonder if JK Rowling’s endeavour with crime fiction (Robert Galbraith) might serve as a useful source of information. The books were released under a different pseudonym (just as Nora Roberts’ publisher insisted), although this was at JK’s behest since she wanted to “go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback.”

 

On one hand, she received positive reviews as a ‘debut author’, but only sold 1,500 copies in the three months before her true identity was revealed (I say only – that’s not bad going for many authors out there!).

 

When it was revealed that Galbraith was Rowling, sales shot through the roof, but still only half as many people have written reviews for those books as have done so for the Potter series. From that, I would suggest that if your performance in your first genre is good, then it can only help build a readership for your new genre, but don’t expect sales to match those of your first genre. However, if your foray into your new genre is flawed for any reason, I suppose *potentially* it could negatively affect your existing reputation.

 

Without having published my non-fantasy book yet, I say go for it. It’s a great way to learn and explore new techniques, approaches, worlds and really grow as an author. I’m really enjoying doing something different.

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