About Writing Different Genre’s

 

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First Fantasy Novel – Oh, noo’s I can’t write anything else EVER!

A long time ago someone told me that if I started as a fantasy author, I would always be a fantasy author. It was stressed that I had to pick one field to master and then go with it, limiting myself to that field.

 

Being the young, easily swayed person I was back then, I believed them … for about a minute and a half.

My current list of titles includes science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. While it could be argued that science fiction and fantasy are the same genres (they’re often in the same section of a bookstore) we’re going to go ahead and draw a big dividing line between them.

I’m sorry, but science fiction is NOT fantasy. Some books might cross the borders between the two, but when push comes to shove you know the difference when you’re reading them.

So it’s safe to say that I dabble in several different genres at this point.

Now, the argument still stands that if you stick with one genre you will eventually “master” it. I use the word “master” lightly because writing is a craft that very few people

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Oh, Snap! My first Science Fiction novel! Eat that, nay-sayers!

master. We all just work hard at pretending like we’ve got it down.

 

What I mean by “master” in this situation is that you will have written so many that you’ve trained your writing brain to create new and enticing material precisely because you have written so much of it. Your mind stretches harder for newer, fresher plot twists and characters and worlds because you’ve already used many of the tropes before.

However, the same can be said even if you cross genre borders. Just because I used a trick in a fantasy novel does not make it free to use in one of my science fiction books. So I still end up stretching my creativity in any given book and that “mastery” is still being developed.

Now then …

There is the issue of “brand.”

If you’ve been in this business for any amount of time, you’ve heard that an author has to have a particular “brand” to sell. James Patterson sells fast-paced thrillers and mysteries. Stephen King sells intricate horror stories. Jennifer Crusie sells quirky romances.

 

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Sweet Holy banana’s, Batman! Here comes a Historical Fiction! I’m out of control now!

How then, do you have a “brand” when you sell books in different genres? I addressed the issue of a brand in another blog post but didn’t really answer how I meant to brand myself.

 

I have admitted to being awful about marketing. It feels so pretentious to wave my books around. My marketing tends to sound more like; “Hey! I wrote this book and I think it’s kinda decent so maybe you could read it? Maybe? I mean, only if you want to. Or if you have the time. Or … whatever.”

Super wimpy, I know. My only defense is that I’d rather be writing.

You know … “mastering” my craft. Trying to get better.

Trying to tell a good story. The sort of story that will hit you in the gut and stick with you for a while. The kind that challenges your point of view and makes you think about how other people live and how you might be able to help those who need it.

I want positive relevance with my books.

For the record, I actually had to hunt for what I wanted my books to be and pinpoint why it is I bother with all the work writing is to figure this out. But in the end, once I had answered the question of “why do I write?” I was able to find my so-called brand.

“Positive Relevance” is what I’m striving for here and what I want my books to represent and be. So … I believe that is what my brand is.  And it should reach across all genres that I write in.

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How Important Are Titles? Round Robin Post

This week it’s all about titles in the Round Robin conversation! The question posed is this: “How important is a title? What attracts you to a certain title, and how do you determine what to title your book? ”

Now, if I was a marking guru, which I’m not, I would say the title was absolutely important. That and the cover are what buyers are going to see first, right? It needs to attract them enough to get them to pick up the novel and read the back blurb or the first few pages.

When I’m walking through the bookstore and glancing over the titles, I honestly don’t have anything in mind when I’m looking. I’ll read anything and everything under the sun, so it’s a little hard to categorize what I’m hunting for in a book or a title. It really depends on my mood or the season or whatever I happen to be writing at that time.

It’s a lot easier to write Fantasy novels when your brain is already set to “Fantasy” by what you’re consuming. Now, I do have to be careful there because I don’t want MY fantasy novel to start showing traits of the novel I’m reading and all that. So I pick a different sub-genre in the fantasy realm to try and keep things separate.

How do I determine the title of my books?

That’s … a painful process, actually.

Persona was known as “The WWII novel” for many years. I actually had to brainstorm with another author on Google+ to get to that one.

Tapped was easier because I just stole the name of the super soldiers (Yes, I used super soldiers) in that book. I have been tempted to change the name to “Grey Men” from time to time but … that’s marketing strategy and I’m still sort of blundering my way through it.

For those unaware … I’m awful at marketing.

Sedition was called The Ebony Blade at first. And then just Kiavana, the name of the region where much of the book takes place. But after several drafts and a lot of moaning and groaning, I looked at what the book itself was about and came up with the vein of sedition that really pulses through the whole novel.

Generally speaking, I don’t come up with a final title until after the third or fourth draft. By then I have a better handle of what the book is showing about humanity or what adventures I’m promising the reader if they purchase it. But it is really a pain in the rear-end.

Ahem. I’m having the censor myself because my eight-year-old giggles if I use other words at the end of that sentence.

ANYWAY … I find titles and blurbs and the synopsis a pain. I suppose if I didn’t and I actually enjoyed that work, I’d be much better at it and my novels would see more success. Maybe I’ll make that part of my New Years Resolutions for 2017 – “Learn to love titles and blurbs!”

Check out what some of my fellow authors think about titles in general and their own processes for finding the perfect title for their own work.

Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Dr. Bob Rich  http://wp.me/p3Xihq-MI
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

 

Writing and Business and the In-Between

As of this evening my novelette “Torven” has a completed rough draft. Given its very small length (16006 words) I have been toying around with the idea of giving it away for free or really, really cheap (after it’s gone through a rigorous editing) which has led me to the normal marketing spiel/debate.

I’ve been here before. Often.

In fact, I’d like to say I’ve dipped my toes into murky depths of marketing since Sedition was first published five years ago. (Five years? Really? Sheesh.)

I have not, however, really committed to a marketing plan. Up until this point my focus was on my craft, wanting to just write the next story and grow as an author, and while none of those goals have changed (and never will, because that’s the whole point of taking ownership of your craft) … I can say that I am going to step intrepidly out into the realm of marketing.

I started, quite comically, with a giveaway of Tapped today on Amazon. The giveaway lasted all of an hour, which … really showed me how bad I am at math. (5 books + every 5th entrant wins = about an hour’s worth of giveaway time. Just in case anyone else needs this information.)

But I learned a great deal about what I want to do in the future. I’ve set up a pretty little timetable to follow for marketing – when I want to do what promotions and at what sites – and even color-coded it … because I’m a geek like that.

I am also in the process of revamping my website … with help because I’m really not great at it.

As to writing itself …

With “Torven” done I can go back to Dead Weight, the sequel to Tapped. I’ll be revamping the outline based on the things I learned in James Patterson’s Master Class (still an awesome thing and if you write, you should check it out.)

Basically, I’ll be going over the outline once a week through the month of April. Start to finish. Tightening the plot. Adding elements of the suspense genre into my science fiction … basically implementing everything Mr. Patterson set out to teach me in 22 lessons.

I’m excited.

It’ll be fun.

And I’ll record all the mayhem here because I can … and maybe it’ll help someone else down the road.

 

Marketing and Me

Recently I met with another local author and had one of those Zen moments where I had to decide exactly why I write. This author was very well put together, had her spiel (aka, pitch) memorized and gave every outward appearance of success. She looked, in a word, classy.

Flash to me … in my jeans and nondescript shirt, sporting a pair of Nike’s that are starting to get a hole in the toe. In my defense, this was a social function I’d taken my son to and a friend of mine decided I needed to make this acquaintance right then and there, so it wasn’t like I knew I was going to be meeting anyone in a professional capacity.

That being said … this other author had a much better handle on the business of writing than I think I’ve ever had, which is what brought about the Zen moment.

Driving home from the function, feeling not a little discouraged, I began to wonder exactly what set me apart from her and was not surprised when I came to the conclusion that she just plain knows how to market herself better than I do. She’s confident in herself and her writing.

I’m confident that I can get through anything the world throws at me but when it comes to my writing I know that I am constantly improving, so the confidence isn’t quite there. Sedition was fun to write but Saboteur was a more solid book because I had learned a lot about style and craft between the two books. (Even though fans seem to like Sedition more, which I find curious.)

Enter the Zen moment …

I made the decision a long time ago that I write because I have to write, because if I don’t write my brain will explode, because there are a zillion stories floating through my mind that need to come out.

I write because I love it.

It’s the process that I find fulfillment in, not the sales.

This doesn’t mean I don’t hope to sell a whole gob of books one day and secure a much brighter future for myself and my son, it just means that I will continue to do the minimum amount of marketing. Things like this blog and light conversations with interested readers, and memberships with organizations that don’t require too much money (Hello, single parent here) are all things that I can do without cutting too much into the writing time.

At some point I imagine I’m going to have to change this decision but for right now this is what fits for me.

Blurbs & The Hated Synopsis

As of today I have 38,643 words edited in the Tapped novel. According to my calendar I should be on Chapter 11, but I’m actually moving into Chapter 13 next week. I’m supremely pleased with the way it is turning out. Thanks to my developmental editor I’m having a blast fleshing out all those places that were too lean before and bringing more color to the characters/relationships on the page.

Author’s note : Developmental editors are editors who look at the story as a whole and tell you what works and what doesn’t work. They often note in the manuscript if there are serious grammatical errors because … well, because I think they probably twitch whenever they see you’ve abused every literary device known to man. 

I also managed to write a new working synopsis to help reflect the changes going into the book. It’s a horrible draft and it’s a mite too long, but at least it’s started so that when I begin the querying process I won’t have to start at square one.

I’ve decided that blurb and synopsis writing require a different sphere of my brain than my normal writing. And it’s a sphere of my brain that absolutely does not like to work. It’s like a koala when you wake it up in the middle of the day (they’re nocturnal and eucalyptus leaves do fun things to their chemistry so they’re kind of drunk) so what you get when you rouse my koala-like marketing sphere is a hung-over grouch that can barely function.

So!

I utilized a marketing professional to help me. She went through my website and suggested several changes that I’ve already implemented (Yay! I’m officially ajmaguire.com!) and helped me draft a blurb for Tapped that looks professional and manages to capture the core of the book.

The experience working with this professional was quite interesting. She was extremely helpful, kept the dialogue pointed in the right direction, and didn’t admit to cringing when she had to go through the working synopsis to get a feel for Tapped. (Though I’m sure she did cringe at least twice.) She was also reasonably priced and I will certainly be going back to her.

I highly recommend both developmental editors and marketing professionals to any aspiring authors/writers out there. Both have given me invaluable insight into the business side of novel-writing.

Tapped – Blurb

Jorry thought winning a galactic war would be enough to buy a peaceful life. She was wrong. Running from the government she fought so hard for, she carves a simple life out for herself and her family. When her family is dragged into a black market deal Jorry finds herself directly in the sights of those she’s been hiding from and must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect the people she loves.