This is the third in this series of blogs to help lift the veil on the writing life and give some (possibly helpful, possibly useless) thoughts on what works for me and the thoughts I think when thinking all the thinky things (I think I channeled my 14 year-old then! Either that or Doctor Who.)
Now, here we go into the dark recesses of my thinky-thoughts 🙂 :
That’s a tricky one because I do think there is a comfort factor that comes into it when making decisions about marketing and what you will do. I think it’s really important to build an author brand and to have a blog as part of that – because you own it and can change it as you grow and nobody can take it away from you or change algorithms on you etc. I don’t think there’s any flash-magical advertising trick for most of us that will suddenly get you the sales. It is mostly down to a slow build, being real with people on social media (without giving away personal info you don’t want them knowing) and not making every interaction about sales, but about creating a connection.
I think BookBub ads and Amazon and FB ads can help with sales at times, as many self-published authors have told me (I haven’t done any of that personally – my publisher takes care of that) but it can also fail if not done right. I think one of the best things you can do is to concentrate on writing the best book you can, then go on to write the next book and the next etc.
And while you’re doing that, build your author platform. If you’re uncertain what an author platform is, I wrote this blog about author platforms and why blogging is important in the building of an author platform and it has a lot of great links to articles about what it is and why you should do it. https://www.leislleighton.com/to-blog-or-not-to-blog-is-that-even-a-question/
As I mentioned above, I love to write Paranormal Romance and Romantic Suspense. I have also started an urban fantasy series as well that I keep pottering away. I have always loved to read these genres because they include all the mythology I loved as a child, can also play a bit with history, have a mystery to solve and also allow to have sub-plots and other characters to play with as well as that story arc that soars over the series.
I actually think the genres I write in are complementary. They both focus around characters and their journeys, with the romance as a strong element and there is always a mystery to be solved, a big-bad to put down. They are also two genres that love books that run in series, which suits me really well.
They kind of chose me. I didn’t really plan to sit down and write either – they were just what came out. When I sat down to write the first novel in my Pack Bound Series, I thought I was writing more of a contemporary romance, but then suddenly my heroine was fighting off her own magic and the hero was hiding the fact he was a wolf. I couldn’t make them be anything other than paranormal.
I think there is some cross-over (as I love romantic suspense and paranormal for the reasons above, I know others do too), but I do know a lot of readers, particularly those who love rural romantic suspense, don’t cross so easily over to paranormal romances.
High concept urban fantasy – I have a few series I have been dabbling with for years that I can’t stop myself from going back to, so one of these days I will finish them and get them out there.
It is a good idea to diversify, but I wouldn’t diversify too much to begin with – get a leg-up in one or two genres and go from there. And if those genres are markedly different, you also might need to look into using different pen names for them so that lovers of one genre don’t buy into another and then get disappointed it wasn’t like your other work – that has happened to people I know of and it was a bitter lesson to learn.
All genres shift and change over time and the best way of keeping up with that is to read books in that genre. The shift in most recent times with romantic suspense is that the suspense is now far more front and centre than earlier, with many of them having more of a crime/police procedural bent than ever before. When I first started writing them, they were more like what Nora Roberts used to write – strong romance thread with a subplot of mystery/suspense that helped to carry the plot and many weren’t police procedural.
In Australia, rural romantic suspense are selling well at the moment – which means they can be a mix of the small town cop stories, but also the more psychological mystery/suspense as well. The latter is more what I write. The advice that I have from my agent and publishers is to keep the suspense front and centre. They are still interested in the romance, but the suspense is what readers are looking for – and why not? Done well, it helps to drive the narrative and hold the plot together and also is a big reason for the characters to be there on the page together in the first place.
No. Write what you love. That’s the most important thing. I think it’s a mistake to write to market as the market shifts and changes and also, if you don’t love what you write, it’s going to be a harder sell to get others to love it.