I am happy to be a guest on Stephanie’s blog today:
Happy Sunday, writers and readers! I am so pleased to introduce you to writer Mandy Eve-Barnett! We connected several years ago, as we both are writers and bloggers. Being in touch with and staying current with other writers is important as it helps push you and keeps you abreast of what others who share the […]
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?
Plantation tradition is a genre of literature based in the southern states of the United States. The genre generally sets the era as occurring or existing before the American Civil War.
Before the American Civil War several works idealized the plantation, such as John Pendleton Kennedy’s 1832 The Swallow Barn. However, plantation tradition became more popular in the late-nineteenth century, due to the reaction against slave narratives like those of Frederick Douglass, and abolitionist novels like Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Prominent writers in the plantation tradition include Thomas Nelson Page (1853-1922) and Harry Stillwell Edwards (1855-1938). Other writers, especially African-American writers, soon satirized the genre: Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman (1899), for example, “consciously evoked the conventions of the plantation novel only to subvert them”.
The earlier novels do not have a place in modern society but there are still novels and movies set during the era. The most famous one, of course is Gone with the Wind (1939). Although, I did not read the book, I watched Twelve Years A Slave, which horrified me. It is a 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, who was a New York State-born free African-American kidnapped in Washington, D.C. by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery.
There are romanticized novels of plantations but also narratives of the inhumanity and brutality of slavery.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get started but once ‘in’ the time flies. I leave this world and am immersed in the work. I love that feeling when the heart starts to race a little; there’s a fullness to the breath; a hum in the muscles.
What is your writing Kryptonite? Procrastination in all its wily disguises.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? I have enough challenges figuring out who I am on any given day with the names I DO have. I generally go by Laurel Deedrick-Mayne. How can you tell I got married in the eighties when everyone was double-barrelling their names? A pseudonym would only confuse the issue.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I’m friends with a number of other authors and I am always simultaneously inspired, intimidated and encouraged by them. Some have such tremendous self-discipline. Others are such Smarty Pants I whither in their presence. But all of them remind me of the endlessly vast stories that are worthy of being told.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I definitely want each book to stand alone. A Wake For The Dreamland was Canadian Historical Fiction spanning 1939-1979 and somewhat male-centric, taking place during WWII and the aftermath. The new project is about an intrepid nurse in the Yukon from 1949-1958. There is some crossover in time period and sexual orientation of protagonists. Ironically, the published memoir of said nurse was titled: No Man Stands Alone.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? Every penny I’ve spent has been worth it but the highlight greatest honour was touring the battlefields of Sicily and Italy with very elderly Veterans who were paying homage to their fallen friends, comrades and their own youth.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? In the 60’s when I was very young the Jello company changed all their boxes to the same colour with the differing flavours merely spelled out on the box but no associated colour; ie: No yellow on the lemon, purple on the grape etc. My mother fired off a letter to the company and in no time flat we received a great parcel of – you guessed it – JELLO – in ALL the appropriate colours. But seriously, the power of words was bred in my bones: my forebears being great correspondents, my grandfather- a broadcaster and journalist. I grew up to the tap of the typewriter and texture of imprint on the page.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? I don’t actually have one.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? I spent a considerable amount of time writing at the Banff Centre in the Rocky Mountains and would often be visited by deer outside my studio window. They would stand stock still, always listening, alert, responsive, agile and swift. I took cues from them. As a writer I watch, listen carefully and when struck with an idea, run with it.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? There are three on the stove but only one on the burner.
What does literary success look like to you? Touching, connecting with readers. For example, at one of over 50 book clubs, a woman said she’d always had a problematic relationship with her father and not much sympathy or respect or even love for him but she knew he had been in the Italian campaign during WWII. While reading my book she felt like she began to understand what he had gone through, and she felt more compassion. She cried as she told this story because he had passed away and she could never tell him. That’s pretty powerful stuff. The book seems to inspire people to think about that generation which has largely passed on now and share their own stories. I’d call that success. Of course being 67 times on Edmonton’s Best Seller List means people are still buying and reading and talking about the book and that is hugely satisfying. Winning the Alberta Readers Choice Award and being a Finalist for the Whistler Independent Book Prize are both great honours, but somehow it still feels like I just got lucky. Many people want to write but never do. Success is in the process and completing the project to the best of one’s ability. Anyone who has climbed that mountain and finished a book has already achieved something extraordinary and should be celebrated. Literary success is probably subjective and certainly fleeting and hardly the most important thing in life.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? My method was to write the heart of each scene and honour the story first and foremost, at least in early drafts. I conduct my research concurrently, strengthening and supporting the story as I delve deeper into the well and wormholes of research. Some authors get so excited about what they have learned that they wear their research on their sleeve and it can get in the way of the story. It’s easy to fall into that trap because the learning is tremendously rewarding and exciting and we kind of want to shout our discoveries from the rooftops. I have read every page of the Regimental diary, hordes of newspapers (British, Canadian and Local) from the war years, dozens of books, listened to audio recordings and read countless diaries and letters and collected hours of interviews BUT that should not be blatantly evident to a reader. I have read books where all the clever and obvious research overshadowed the characters and their drama. I have followed in the footsteps of the Canadians in Sicily and Italy with Veterans who were revisiting. I have to know all those gory details and all of that research is the bedrock of the book but what appears on the page must be more lively and transparent and leave some room for the reader to connect and use their own imagination.
How many hours a day/week do you write? I still only have one designated day but much of my life revolved around child and elder care with my last book. My mother died the week my book went to press and my father 444 days later and I have been working through the process of grieving, settling estates, etc. etc. Life can get in the way and that isn’t a ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse. It is the way the world turns. I should soon be able to add at least one more day/week.
How do you select the names of your characters? Oh, I know it sounds corny but they kind of introduced themselves to me. I made a couple subtle changes as I went along. Part of my editing process includes reading aloud and recording and if a name (or anything for that matter) doesn’t sound right, then it isn’t right and needs to be tweaked a little.
What was your hardest scene to write? Some of the war scenes nearly broke my heart but were also the most satisfying. It wasn’t a technical challenge but an emotional one. Some of the love scenes had me in hysterics and gave me a whole new appreciation for writers who can pull them off.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them? Writing is like being an explorer and it is great fun for me to try different genres on for size: Goldie Locks-ing my way around the story finding what feels right, challenging myself, flexing my writing muscles. Even if I trip and fall, success is the quality of the journey. Quick! Call the Cliché Police.
How long have you been writing? Since I could hold a pencil
What inspires you? Oh—simply this crazy thing called life.
How do you find or make time to write? It’s my biggest challenge. And fear. Because I think there is so much to write about I’m afraid I’d never stop. But there’s a great deal of living to do as well and I don’t want to miss that.
What projects are you working on at the present? The work-in-progress is looking like a combustible and controversial biography. It’s about Amy Wilson, a Nurse In the Yukon. You can even Google her. It’s scary as hell, for many cultural and political reasons.
What do your plans for future projects include? There’s a Prisoner of War, WWI era play (or maybe musical) on a back burner. It’s not as ridiculous as that sounds.
Once an Arts Administrator, Laurel Deedrick-Mayne has been a dance publicist, concert promoter, ad copywriter and box office bunny. She has served on multiple arts boards while maintaining her ‘day job’ as a massage therapist. Her independently published debut novel, A Wake For The Dreamland won the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award in 2016 and has been on Edmonton’s Best Seller List for 67 weeks. She has been a guest at over 60 book clubs and other book-related events. A late bloomer to publishing but a life-long third generation letter and story writer, Laurel celebrates the ‘love that dared not speak it’s name’ while paying tribute to the generation who took the time to hang on to family letters, clippings, stories and poetry — all those ‘treasures’ that inspired A Wake For The Dreamland.
1. Does writing energize or exhaust you? It depends on how I feel before I start writing. If I have been having problems writing anything for a couple of days, I’m apprehensive to sit and write. On those days, if I can actually get something out, I feel energized and go for hours. Then there are days where I’m full of energy and ready to write and come out a few hours later exhausted and having to put on wrist braces because the carpal tunnel sets in.
2.What is your writing Kryptonite? Like a topic I won’t touch? Harming little children and elderly. Something that kills my writing would be Netflix. I get sucked into the black hole that is Asian TV/movies and it will be days before I write anything because I’m watching.
3.Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Actually I have a book in the works that will be under a pseudonym because it contains a lot of personal information that my family probably wouldn’t appreciate me putting out there, but I feel like I need to write it and have others read it. Then there is another work in progress that I’m thinking about using a pseudonym for but not quite sure if I will or not.
4.What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I have many on Facebook through different writing groups, but Zoe Ambler has been the most influential and active in my writing. We just talk about our writings and give different points of view on different aspects of the work. Although recently I’m hoping to expand my tiny writing circle through a group I’m putting together where authors help each other out more than just posting advertisements. I’m trying to help authors that don’t necessarily have the money to pay an editor or don’t have any support and help them in a sort of exchange thing.
5.Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? Most of my currently published are stand alones, but there are two that are part of a trilogy and one is becoming part of an unintentional series. For the most part, I just let the stories take me where they want to go and if that leads to a standalone or a series, I just go with it.
6.What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? I broke down and spent some money on two book covers. Until then I have always made my own and wanted to try having them professionally done. I think those are the best two book covers I have right now.
7.What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? Since I was born my great-grandma read stories to me, then she taught me how to read at the age of three because while I was living with my great-grandparents and my mom, great-grandma thought I needed to be quiet. I’m not sure if I ever had that brilliant “A-ha” moment because it has always been there for me.
8.What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. It is a sci-fi novel about a mentally challenged man and a mouse that undergo surgery to make them smarter. The surgery is a success and Charlie eventually surpasses the intelligence of the doctors that created and performed the procedure. As he became smarter, Charlie’s friendships break off because of his major attitude changes and eventually all he has left is his mouse. He finds a flaw in the research, and the result is Algernon, the mouse, goes back to his original state and dies. Knowing he will lose his mind, he tries to reconnect with friends and family, but decides to live at a state-sponsored institution where no one knows about his former intelligence. I loved the book because it shows a harsh reality of how people treat others that are different from themselves. Then it flips the coin and you can see how the change can twist a person into a shadow of their former selves. I think this is the first book that made me cry and really feel for the characters.
9.As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? A Pokémon called Ditto. Over the years I have felt my spirit animal change because of what is going on in my life at the time and how it effects my writing. With Ditto, it can change into any animal with the same characteristics but always revert back to a pink blob of potential.
10.How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? *Laughs manically in a corner wearing a strait jacket* The last time I counted, it was at 47. However I have added more to that list, and put a couple in an “I’m not sure if I really want to do this but I’ll keep it just in case” pile. I’m crazy I know.
11.What does literary success look like to you? I’m a simple girl when it comes to my idea of literary success. While it would be nice to be a big name like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, I am happy with reviews from customers who enjoyed my books. I write because I have to get the words out, but nothing makes me feel like a big real world writer than when I read how much a person loved one of my books.
12.What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? Aside from reading other stories inside the genre that are similar to what I’m working on, I do not do much research. I might look up how things work or certain types of devices I want to use or non-stereotypical attributes for characters to ensure I don’t make a mistake but mostly I write about what I know or invent in my imagination. That said, one of my favorite current works in progress is involving a lot of research into Japanese culture and history. I am looking on websites that are educational reference worthy, reading books about the culture and history, watching movies to figure out how their stories differ from Americans. I have even started to attempt learning to read/write Japanese and the Kanji.
13.How many hours a day/week do you write? I try to write a little bit every day and have set up spreadsheets to keep track of daily/weekly/monthly/yearly goals. Daily, this month, I’m just trying for 540 words a day. I have been trying to climb out of a slump and find smaller goals work better for me when this happens. Come July I would like to be back up to at least 2000 a day so I can feel confident going into Camp NaNoWriMo. Other than the goals, I do not mark how long I write daily because sometimes I don’t have the ability to sit and write for so long or I am sick and don’t feel like writing. Other days I can sit and write for four or five hours at a time.
14.How do you select the names of your characters? I love looking for new names. Sometimes the names just pop into my head and other times I search baby name websites and apps looking for the right name. Any time I find a name I like I write it down and add it to a running list on Excel for when I need help.
15.What was your hardest scene to write? The hardest scene I have written involves the book I plan to use a pseudonym for. It involves a taboo sexual experience between two characters and one does not know what they feel. They don’t know how they should feel about it because in one way the other person wasn’t supposed to do that to them, but they felt it was the only way to gain that person’s love. If they tell someone else it could either cause legal problems or mental issues because they wouldn’t be believed. This scene is based on a true event and because I’m still unsure how to feel it makes it hard to put it down on paper.
16.Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them? In the broad sense I write in the romance genre. It is just the one I latched on to based on the sheer number of them that I read. Inside that I write paranormal, LGBTQ, historical and I guess contemporary romance sub-genres. I try to write in the fields that I like, but at the same time those are the types of stories that just come to me. I kind of just write the book and figure out where it fits in the market afterwards.
17.How long have you been writing? Publication wise five years. I have been writing stories since I was like ten, but have lost many of those manuscripts through the multiple moves I made growing up.
18.What inspires you? Everything. I know it sounds like a copout, but I could be reading or watching a movie and get an idea. Watching my family interact with each other. Talking with friends or just watching people walking down the street and coming up with the type of life I think they live.
19.How do you find or make time to write? I mostly write in the middle of the night. Aside from always have been a night owl, I live with my aunt and her two adult children. She works night shift and in the past year or so her youngest (21 or 22) has started having seizures in his sleep. So to keep me awake on the nights she works, I stay up writing and listening for him. I can’t really watch TV or listen to music because I need to be able to hear if my cousin has a seizure I need to be able to hear him so I can go help him. Plus it is one less thing to worry about if I have to call for an ambulance. On the days that she has off, I wake up in the afternoon and it is part of my wake up routine. I try to write a few hundred words before joining the rest of the family. Then I’m usually up most of the night and write more. Other than that I come up with ideas in the shower and write them down when I get out. Same while I’m driving and doing dishes. When I am doing something that can be done on “auto-pilot” my mind composes and I write it down soon after I’m done. I use a note app on my phone when I’m not near my computer.
20.What projects are you working on at the present? 2 Werewolf projects, a Japanese project, a Mermaid and a couple contemporary romance are a few of the most prominent.
21.What do your plans for future projects include? Because I am neck deep in works in progress, my future lies with whichever book idea comes to mind next.
Courtney M. Wendleton is a nation traveler, covering mostly the Midwest. She has lived in Alaska and currently resides in Hawaii, after graduating from high school in Missouri. Since a child of 10, Courtney has wanted to travel and write stories. She has been traveling her whole life, and writing since childhood but only two years ago did she publish her first book.
Touchdown Interruption is her first short story, and has paved the way for six other books currently on the market with more in the works. Courtney toils through her day reading, writing, and striving to be a better author.
A near death experience during her time in Alaska proved to her that life is short and she needs to spend her time doing something she loves. It took three years for her to build up the courage, but she published her first book and started going to school again. Now she happily lives in Hawaii with family, still hoping to inspire her readers to chase their dreams.