Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

There is a business end

This post is about the nitty-gritty of the business end of writing; so if that doesn't interest you, come back Wednesday for some spring flowers ;). We are truly in the wonderful season as it builds every day toward summer.

Writers are recommended to continue to write in the genre where they are building a fan base-- assuming they are. Publishing houses discourage a writer from branching out without a new name. This is to avoid confusing readers. Some writers have always gone back and forth with assorted names. What I have observed is they generally bring to each genre the underlying essence of their books. I believe that is what I do when I switch between historical, contemporary and fantasy.

Right now, my choosing to leave the historical, for awhile, and do something different is likely not a wise economic move. I am not a big name author nor do I have a big fan base. My books are mostly found hit or miss by readers. In switching to urban fantasy romance for five books, I don't expect them to sell as well as the historicals-- and they come and go for sales. 

My earlier contemporaries never sold as well as the historicals. I suspect that is some to do with not having a place to promote them. Or maybe they don't suit the typical reader of contemporary romance. Well, this could be even more so with this next five as they won't fit the paranormal genre as best I know it. My witches will be human and live normal lifespans-- just they have a few magical skills, which most of us don't. 

I am doing this because creatively, I needed a break. When I thought about writing more historicals, my jaw hurt. This is an indicator for me that my body is saying change is needed. I think it happens because I am clenching it, but it happens with too much sugar too; so I don't know.

These five books will be half the length of the historical I just wrote. I had been planning this change to shorter novels for awhile. Literally, if you are a writer, long books are economically not smart. They are rewarding to write, as you can have more subplots and develop characters with more depth, with room to play a little. Economically though it does not pay off. You spend a long time writing them but the prices cannot be that much more than the shorter books. Then, if the book doesn't meet reader expectations or you cannot get it seen by the right readers, your loss of time and emotional energy is, of course, greater.

Although my books will be shorter, they won't be novellas and they won't be possible to whip one out every two weeks. I don't follow a formula. My stories are character driven. They evolve out of research, my imagination and the characters as they become clearer to me in the writing. This is again not exactly smart from a business sense. I think formula writing is probably smart from a business sense. It's not copying someone else but finding what the readers most want and the writer's own place in that. If there is a need to make money, there's nothing wrong with it either. It satisfies a lot of readers and makes the writer a living.


joared said...

Creating art that meets business needs is clearly a challenge. Formulae books are popular with many, so far be it from me to discourage anyone from writing those if readers enjoy them and the writer derives pleasure from writing them. There are enough variations in reader's tastes to demand all types. Through the years, at different periods in my life, what I was attracted to reading could vary widely. So, interesting that you're rotating between several genre. I expect you just never know what may click for others at any time. You sound like you have a pretty good fix on your market.

I'm reminded of the blogger who wrote a true story about her father she never knew. (You probably remember her -- Full Fathom Five by Mary Lee Coe Fowler. I notice an Internet search brings up many books with that same title, so the author's name must be used to find that book. Why isn't Fowler's book included in the initial just title search?)

Because aspects of her story coincidentally proved to have significance to me I was a bit more involved in promoting the book's exposure than I would have been otherwise at one of my local book stores. What I discovered was a haphazard, downright negligent manner (in my view) in which this brick and mortar nationwide chain of bookstores labelled the book's genre, then failed in the most basic way to promote the book's sale once they had it in their store. On a positive note, I had spoken to the mgr. about ordering a few copies which he did, and then filed away on shelves filled with many books. One day I took it upon myself, unbeknownst to the mgr., to simply pluck a copy off one shelf and place it on a most appropriate special subject display table which this book was also about. I thought common sense would have had him featuring that book, too, with those other titles. When I asked him about that book's sales later he noted a copy had sold. He could have sold more if he'd put them out there, I'm convinced, but he said the home office across the country dictated his actions and even assigned the limited few genres to which the book had been relegated which he couldn't alter.

The moral, I guess, was a writer has to be out there and/or have others actively promoting the book. That book was available on the Internet, too, and still is. I only know about some of the other writer appearance promotions and don't know anything about sales except for a couple I purchased and that particular bookstore.

I'm guess if a new book's exposure is primarily on the Internet it's a bit different, but greater exposure than before there was an Internet. Suppose there are likely special avenues to pursue to attract new readers to the genre and the book.

Rain Trueax said...

As you always add, those are thoughtful comments, Joared. I think it's like marketing anything and any business. As soon as a book is finished, it leaves the artistic end and is a business. It's hard for many artists, in all fields, to make that shift. If they have someone good at business, friends or family, they are blessed. Some get lucky and find someone like that early on.

For me, I have found the business end interesting but also frustrating. Sometimes I read what others do to get their books seen and my eyes glaze over. I can only do what seems right to me. I see those who constantly spam their books, finding places to get them seen, and maybe it works for them. I don't know but it's not me. I am not exactly shy about mine but I also don't find it easy to brag about them. For years, I never even talked about the fact I wrote, not even to friends. I saw it a private thing. Now I like talking about the process, writing, but still am reluctant to do as much marketing as I see maybe works. You have to also stay true to yourself. Some hire publicity agencies but I always wonder if that pays off. You can put a lot of money into getting a book seen and find it still doesn't move up the rankings, and you are just out the money. I am not against paying for advertising but just where does it actually benefit the book.

Writing in a mixed genre is proving interesting to me. I am at around 18,000 words and now need to get a better feeling for the villains. Having the bad guys make sense is important to making a book work for me whether I am writing it or reading someone else's. I am though beginning to think I may not be writing urban fantasy after looking at some of the books out there in that genre. Labeling a book is a key to finding readers; and if someone doesn't write in a definite, firmly defined genre, it gets complicated. :)

As always thanks for your comment :). Comments do a lot to fill out what a writer is wanting to say but didn't get it all in.