We can be overwhelmed with our own and other people’s expectations when creating a writing project. Questions race through our minds, taunting us – Am I good enough? Have I really got the skill? or Will anyone think my work worthy? Don’t feel these insecurities are the soul territory of the novice writer as many well known authors still suffer angst of one sort or another, even if it is only – Will this story be as enthralling as the last? Self imposed expectations can stall or even stop your creative flow, a scary place to be for all creative minds and in particular writers, who sit before a blank page with a whirling dervish of emotion crowding out any creativity. In some cases this insecurity will be compounded by friends and family, who may demean your passion as a passing fancy or treat it with distaste or derision.
It is true writing is a solitary endeavour but there are ways to make connections. Of course there is the internet route, where everything from writing tips to author blogs to social media is at your fingertips, but do these give you a real connection? What we all yearn for is actually a more personal connection to someone (or even a group) who can encourage and support us in the real world as opposed to the cyber one. Isn’t it nicer to sit down with like minded people and share our work? Constructive critique over a coffee or within a writers group meeting is not only of practical help but gives us a feeling of community. An added bonus and one that truly boosts our confidence is when another writer will ask for help, an opinion, a viewpoint or even request mentor-ship. All of us can give as well as receive thus making our writerly life not so solitary.
Reach out to others – find a local group or even start your own! The benefits are countless and to be frank make our passion so much more enjoyable. Some of the following places may help:
Your local library. Search MeetUp or your local yellow pages. Your area’s Writers Guild or Association. www.wfscsherwoodpark.com
Today’s post is more personal as I am a multi-genre author. I would welcome your comments on how you brand, promote and market when writing multi-genres.
The definition of ‘writer’ is 1. a person who has written a particular text. 2. a person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation. 3. a person who writes in a specified way.
As you can see the definition predisposes that a writer will create narratives in a specific way or genre. However, what if a writer wants to write the ‘story’ not the genre?
As many of you know, I am a multi-genre author, where the story is the motivator not the genre. However, there are some obstacles to this due to the ‘business’ side of writing. Mainly, how to promote myself as opposed to the genre I have written?
I have read many ‘book promotion and marketing’ articles, all of which target specific audiences for genre. You can easily target one genre, such as romance, thriller, and mystery but how do you cross genre lines in promotion?
One answer is to link your name to an organic and dynamic brand that’s based on you and arouses a positive, emotional experience for your targeted readership – regardless of genre. So in essence you will need to develop a strategy to create a hybrid solution of your own.
Another option is to write a book that will appeal to the fans of your new genre and not the fans you already have. The plot, cover, and blurb should all be consistent with the genre you want to write in. This can be accomplished by adding your own flourishes to the genre.
You have the ability to create your own style, and unique voice by combining recurrent themes, character types, settings, and ideas that make up the familiar elements characteristic to your writing. You can tie a common thread between all the genres you choose to write.
It is much less about genre, and more about what readers have come to expect in your books/writing. It’s in the way you do it–as well as how it’s perceived and interpreted by your audience. Let’s take a look at how writing in more than one genre is a benefit: • It requires different strengths and allows you to push your limits and abilities–learn, test, experiment, polish. • It lets you explore your wider interests without limitation. • It allows new writers especially to explore various genres before determining the right “fit” for their style, voice and passions. • It is often not a conscious decision–many writers are compelled to follow the Muse.
So what are the Pros and Cons? Pros: 1. Writing what you want It is wonderfully fulfilling to explore new ideas and create something new that challenges you in unique and exciting ways. 2. Wider audience Writing a new genre may attract new readers, who wouldn’t have found your work otherwise. And hopefully they will check out your previous works thus cultivating a broader, wider readership. 3. Versatility Being versatile will sharpen your skills as a writer and may attract a publisher in that genre or other new opportunities. Your ability to handle a variety of genres is always a plus. 4. Broader community While writing in new genres and categories, you will get to know other writers in that genre and extend your writing community in the process. Cons: 1. Losing readers This is obviously the biggest con of switching genres. Your current readership may not pick up your new book at all as they consider you a writer in a particular genre and may be more discerning about picking up a title of yours in the future. 2. More juggling Writing in multiple genres requires more juggling with your marketing and promotion as you need to change from one single cohesive marketing plan into two or more. And if you’re working on multiple projects at once, you’ll have to handle multiple publishing deadlines, contracts, etc. 3. Multiple brands The worst case scenario is having to start a completely new brand for the ‘other’ genre. You may need to write under a pen-name and devote time to building that platform. It could be you start from scratch in your branding, or utilize your platform in a broader form. To do this you need to find the common ‘theme’. (Not an easy task I might add!) 4. Writing confusion The other challenge is juggling multiple genres from a writing perspective and requires a lot of hard work and skill to accomplish successfully. Each genre has its own conventions you need to establish and refine using vastly different voices traits and tones, while meeting readers’ expectations.
More recently, many alternative genres have been created, which combine genres into a sub-genres. For example, romance readers would never go to the horror section first but if the description was something like – romantic suspense – then maybe they would pick up your book. This has enabled authors to promote their books in one or more genres. I have investigated what my ‘brand’ or ‘theme’ is in my writing and after quite some time realized it is a basic theme of love – be it romantic, parental, friendship or some other kind – so in essence I can use that title within the more traditional genre headings. It is a matter of looking at your story and defining the main theme, even if it is an underlining thread throughout the narrative. My novel, Life in Slake Patch is an alternative world order but basically has a young man trying to change the ‘laws’ so he can be with the woman he loves. It can be described as speculative fiction but romantic speculative fiction is better.
My novel, The Twesome Loop is also romance but has an added reincarnation element as well as set in England and Italy, so is it romance alone or do I possibly create a sub-genre: suspense romance? As I am writing, I realized another sub-genre would fit my fantasy, The Rython Kingdom, which is set in medieval England, has a romance and a master plot by a vengeful witch so maybe it is fantasy romance?
Do you write multiple genres?
How do you promote them? Separately or within a broader brand under your name?
Both. For me, writing includes considering various plot ideas and marinating them in my head. I look for incidents that disrupt characters’ lives so they need to change course and deal with the consequences. That’s the exhausting part.
I get energized when the core of a plot develops, and characters materialize to tell the story. For me, that’s when the best part of writing begins.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Getting myself to forget everyday obligations for a while and sit at the computer. Learning to make writing a priority is still a work in progress. However, I’m getting a lot better now that I have a published novel.
Do you have other author friends and how do they help you become a better writer?
Yes. I’m lucky enough to have a friend who writes in the same genre. It’s wonderful to exchange ideas and share problems and triumphs with a writing buddy who understands the process, helps with the craft, encourages and motivates. We try to meet in person every two weeks, and we email in between. Let’s face it, most people don’t get what it’s like to create and live with imaginary characters who’ve become part of one’s life.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I became attached to the cast of characters in my first book, published last November, and set primarily in a pair of small New England seacoast towns. Readers have let me know they want to know what happens to supporting players in that book. For those reasons, I’m planning to keep the area, as well as threads about the characters in my second novel. I want people to be able to read it as a stand-alone as well if they choose.
What was the best money you spent as a writer?
Two ways. Years ago, I took a summer institute on newspaper writing, publicity, and promotion. It was inexpensive and one of the professors had top newspaper and advertising names as guest instructors. I still use what I learned.
Another worthwhile expenditure was, and still is, buying an overabundance of best-selling novels in varied genres. I study structure, style, and try to analyze elements that make a popular book. The downside is it’s hard for me to read only for pleasure
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I learned specifically about written word power in early grade school. Each year, we were required to write an essay about something in nature for a statewide contest. The teachers encouraged vivid similes and metaphors. My ruby leaves and icy moons often won certificates.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot?
My writing mascot chose me. Tux is a tolerant black and white cat of a certain age. Among his talents are stretching out on piles of paper without disturbing them and head butting the laptop screen gently when he decides I need a break. Listening is one of his strongest points.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
No books, but there are many short stories. I didn’t have the confidence to attempt a novel until one of the short stories decided there was a lot more to tell. It took about four years, but eventually, the story became my book.
What does literary success look like to you?
First, I want people to buy and enjoy reading my novel. I’ve written about mid-life characters who get a chance to fall in love again. When readers finish my book….hopefully books….I want them to have a sense of optimism, hope, and confidence that life can be wonderful at any age. Of course, it would be lovely to be widely read as well.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Of course, I use the computer for whatever I can. Then, because some settings in the stories are popular tourist spots, I visit them and take notes. Details need to be correct, or the credibility of a book suffers as far as I’m concerned. Angie, the heroine, has an unusual business. She’s a Nurse Concierge. I spent a lot of time researching what that involves. Ben is from England but he now lives in the US. I had to get information on dual citizenship requirements. Then I had to learn about high tech company practices and offers for takeovers of small businesses.
I do some research during the development stage of the book, but it’s ongoing through the first draft at least, sometimes even later in the process.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
In defining the writing process, I include developing the book idea, and the marinating that goes on in my head before actually putting fingers to computer keys. During that phase, my writing is sporadic, maybe two or three days a week for an hour or two. I hide from the work, finding it necessary to iron, throw out old mail, anything but get to the story.
When the story starts to gel, and characters begin chatting, I can write for several hours a day with intense concentration. It wouldn’t be unusual to stay at it for 6 hours or more, letting most everything else in my life slide. I don’t write daily. Because I’m mostly a pantser, I need to think about what I’d like to see happen.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Names come after the characters take shape. I consider their personalities and traits, as well as how they appear physically in my imagination. I also think about what sounds good to my ear. Last names come to my mind randomly. First names might come from an online list, the newspaper, or an old telephone book.
What was your hardest scene to write?
That’s easy. It was my first serious love scene, beyond kissing. Getting the elements of tender romance, mutual longing and participation, enough raciness to make it interesting, and avoiding offensive description was a challenge.
Why did you decide to write in your particular field or genre?
I started writing fiction as a second career. I was an RN for many years. Several friends found second romances in their middle years, and I enjoyed hearing the stories and seeing the happiness their relationships brought. There are not many novels dealing with people forty and over falling in love and successfully merging already full lives. I thought it would be fun to join the emerging field of writing love stories about people with life experience.
What inspires you?
Many things, but mostly watching and listening to people. It could be a couple holding hands on the street; two people laughing softly together; or seeing someone comfort a partner;
There is an incident I remember vividly that will find its way into a story. Two people were sitting across from each other in a coffee shop. Although they never touched, as they talked, their eyes were focused on each other every second. Their smiles were gentle, and I felt the connection as a palpable wave of love.
How do you make or find time to write.
I push down the guilt at not doing other things and just get to it. It’s taken some effort to convince myself that this is not just a hobby now, but a second career. I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic, so thinking of writing as a real job has helped.
What project are you working on at present?
My major effort is promoting my new novel, This Time Forever. I still have so much to learn about methods of attracting an audience, promotion is close to a full time job. The novel is in an emerging genre, sometimes referred to as ‘Seasoned’ or ‘Midlife’ Romance. Angie and Ben, the two main characters are 57 and 60 respectively. I think they show that pursuing love in their phase of life is just as adventuresome, wonderful, and sexy as ever. So far, reviews on Amazon and Goodreads have been favorable, and there’s growing feedback that people enjoy reading about contemporaries.
I’m also working on getting a website and improving my Facebook and Amazon Authors page.
What do your plans for future projects include?
There’s another book in the development/mental marination phase. The New England Seacoast will continue as the setting. It is another Romance, with the main characters in the 50-60 age range.
On Saturday I was MC for the Summer Author reading at our local coffeehouse, Social Grounds Coffeehouse. I had read the month before so was pleased to act as MC this time. It is always a pleasure to support my fellow writers and especially cool to hear them share their stories.
The three authors reading were Linda J Pedley – who thrilled us with excerpts from her ‘Journey’ trilogy, Journey of Brothers, Journey of Desires and Journey of Truth. Beth Rowe reading from both of her YA adventure/mystery books, Bird of Barjay and Mischief, Mischief and J.E. McKnight from his intriguing sci-fi, The Arrival.
Having such a diverse selection of stories certainly made the evening a fun one and the audience loved the opportunity to ask the authors questions later. It is so important to support your local authors not only at readings but by purchasing and reviewing their books. There is months, if not years of work, in each book you read. Stories that are easy reading are hard writing!
Thank you to Dream Write Publishing (www.dreamwritepublishing.ca) and Social Grounds Coffeehouse for making this series of author readings possible. if you wish to purchase any of these books or indeed the 70+ others on the purchaser site please feel free to browse!
Have you attended any authors readings, whether reading or listening?
What was your experience like?
What did you learn?
Do you know your local authors? If not contact your library.
The Rainbow Family of Living Light (also known as the Rainbow Family) is actually a group of individuals committed to non-violence and egalitarianism, or in other words want everyone to be equal in social status and worth. The group hold Rainbow Gatherings which are peaceful assemblies and events for free speech.
Formed by Barry “Plunker” Adams, known for his book Where Have All the Flower Children Gone and Garrick Beck, son of the the founder of The Living Theater. These young men were inspired by the Vortex I gathering in Oregan in 1970 and the first Woodstock Festival. Their first Rainbow Family Gathering was held in 1972 at Strawberry Lake, Colorado.
Nowadays, the gatherings are held throughout the year either in the United States or in dozens of countries around the world as national or regional events. As the gatherings are non-commercial, attendees participate peacefully for approximately a week. The primary focus is on World Peace and the week is full of prayers, mediation and observation of silence for global peace. In the US the meetings are on 4th July but in other countries they can last a month between new and full moons emphasizing spiritual focus on unity, love and peace.
Common interests for people that attend are New Age spirituality and entheogens, intentional communities and ecology. Attendees use ‘sibling’, ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ to refer to each other. Group meetings are used for decisions and general consensus for groups wanting to attend. Money exchange is frowned upon in favor of bartering. There is no organization or leaders just a common goal for peace and love on Earth.
There have been controversies and claims of The Rainbow Family Gatherings being unfavorable to the areas they attend and to indigenous peoples heritage. Any alternative lifestyle attracts public skepticism or even authority intervention.