An author’s life involves more than the creation of literary worlds, it’s an endless sea of self-promoting. It’s necessary because there’s also a Grand Canyon full of books out there and people won’t read yours unless they find them. Now there’s a needle in a haystack if ever there was. For an introvert like me, pushing myself front and center takes nothing less than monumental effort.
Early on it was explained to me that the backlist is the path to success– that stack of previous novels you’ve written sells the new book because you have fans waiting to read the next. I’ll tell you right now it’s definitely a slow go. My stories come to me one line at a time. To date I have 8 full-length novels in print, 2 are three-book series (both waiting on their 3rd) and one of them also comes in a reduced-price bind-up of both books. I’m also in 2 free anthologies, a 9-author book set, 3 murder anthologies, 2 cookbook anthologies, and 2 more anthologies in the works. If I count my unfinished stories, there are about 16 or so (counting my pile of children’s stories just waiting on me to get them out into the world). And I’m not as prolific as some!
I’m also not a formula writer. That’s the ticket for authors able to plot out books quickly. I’m just not able to mechanically churn out plug-n-play stories. My mind doesn’t work that way. I find it fascinating that some people are adept at it, and not just that, they do it successfully.
It sort of looks like this example:
Story – It doesn’t matter when or where or even who, but the hero must marry against his will or lose his inheritance.
A. A playboy in London high society 1818
B. A Viking in 900AD
C. The son of a prosperous American Industrialist 1915
D. The hereditary leader of a Vampiric coven 2012
A. A penniless orphan with an undiscovered royal lineage
B. A Celtic high priestess
C. A salesperson in a high end department store living on public assistance
D. A goth chick working at an all-night diner.
External forces working against a happy outcome = their obvious differences.
It can simply be he chafes at the idea, acts like a jerk, but inexplicably falls in love anyway or love triumphs despite one of these:
A. It’s hard to break into the social strata lacking social graces
B. It’s hard to get over the pesky master/slave relationship
C. It’s hard to explain to wealthy mom and dad that she’s the working class
D. It’s hard to get past the deadly love you/love your blood boundaries
There you go. I’ve just created four separate books out of one story line. I know of authors who crank out a book a month using this formula.
I have to wonder though. In a recent comment on one of my titles, the reader said my story was refreshingly different. How so? Does this refer to repeat readers eventually burning out on all the same stuff different day scenarios? I had exactly that happen to me not long ago. As a romance reader, I have my favorite authors. Readers usually do. There was one I’ve read for more than 20 years. Loved her books. The year before last I eagerly bought this author’s latest. I snuggled down with the book but soon found I couldn’t get past the third chapter. Damn. I’d read it before…several times. Only the names, dates, character lives and location were different than the last several books she’d written. The fan I was never saw it until that moment, and to be honest, it felt like a long time love affair had ended for me. I went to my bookshelf and sorted back through the years to my favorites. Those I kept. The formula books had to go. I had moved on. Sad business that.
Yes, the idea of the mega backlist appeals to me. The idea of writing a book a month also has a certain allure and I just might join in the big book in a month endeavor–the NANOWRMO. But I don’t think I could put the emotion I do into books following the formula above.
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