The importance of branding yourself as an author: Stick to one genre or else
This is a guest post by Martha Carr
The rules of the publishing game have all changed in recent years, and with the onslaught of ever-newer social media tools, that’s not going to change for the foreseeable future.
However, there’s still one powerful rule that remains, and it can mean the difference between making a comfortable living as an author or just barely getting by despite the great reviews. Think of it as our industry’s Golden Rule and big fat secret.
Trying to get published, even getting published in more than one genre will greatly reduce your effectiveness at marketing and shrink your overall sales.
But I didn’t want to listen to that advice and set out on my self-willed quest to prove them all wrong.
I wrote three different books in three different genres despite advice from some very big names in the publishing world. The books each came out to great reviews from literary critics and loads of fan mail, which I took as an affirmation that I was unique. Really, I was just scared and arrogant.
Even though everyone agreed the books were great, the Golden Rule prevailed, and only one thing was missing from my triumph: the money. It’s easy to say it doesn’t matter but even a middle class lifestyle is very expensive and after awhile the low sales became hard to ignore. I was learning the hard way that there is a consequence for everything.
I’ve been a writer for over 20 years now. I’ve even gotten to write for some great big city newspapers like the Washington Post, and I eventually became a syndicated columnist with a nationwide audience. That all sounds great, on the surface.
Frankly, most everyone who hears about what I’ve accomplished quickly starts to ooh and aah with a glint in their eye at the big American dream of writing a novel and having people not only read it but say they like it. I thought so too and, for a while, despite the insider advice I was given, I continued on my way. I was that sure that in the end I’d be proven right.
Of course, in order to be right, you have to know what it is you’re trying to prove. This is precisely where I tripped myself up. I was ignoring my intention, which was to prove I could really write. If that’s you, let me save you some time.
Pick a genre that you can live with for the next 5 to 10 years and if you manage to get even one book published – you can write. Now focus on marketing the book and writing the next one. Stop trying to re-answer the same question. It’s a waste of your time and energy. In publishing a certain amount of stick-to-it has big payoffs. That’s probably a good motto for life in general.
Fortunately, I’ve changed my ways and now I stick to thrillers, which has made so much of my professional career easier. I know how to focus my blog, www.MarthaCarr.com, and my marketing. As a matter of fact, Novel Publicity is running a blog tour this month of my thriller, Wired, set in 1989. Imagine if I’d come to Emlyn Chand with a hodgepodge of ideas and asked her to help me sell books. To what audience?
There’s only so much time in a day and all of us only have so much of it to spend getting to know an author. Spend yours wisely and you’ll reap the rewards.
About this post’s author:
Martha Randolph Carr is the author of three books and has a weekly, nationally syndicated column through the Cagle Cartoon syndicate on politics, national interest topics and life in general. Her newest work, The List, is a political thriller set around the attorney, Wallis Jones her husband Norman and their son Ned. The List is the first in a series. Martha is currently at work on the sequel, The Keeper. You can read short weekly thrillers at her blog, www.MarthaCarr.com and catch her on Twitter @MarthaRandolph or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MarthaRCarr