April 25th, 2011
What Am I Trying To Build?

I had a strange realization over the weekend. I was going through J.A. Konrath’s blog entries, which are almost always inspiring–even though my results haven’t been anywhere close to what he’s experienced. (Okay, not even in the same universe.) Anyway, I was tracking my sales (which have been SLOWLY improving) and thinking about what I was going to do once I released Atlantean’s Quest Book 2: Exodus–which should now be titled ‘Red Pen Central’. I was trying to figure out what book should come next, would it improve my sales and why, when it hit me: What am I trying to build?

It seems like such a simple question until you think about it and really examine it. As many of you know, I started out writing regular romance, then moved into erotic romance. I stayed writing ER for a few years before branching into other genres as I evolved as a writer. With the exception of a few novellas here and there, it is NOT my intention to venture back into erotic romance as a career choice. Not because I have a problem with the genre, I don’t. It’s just that my writing interests now are going in new directions. Directions that I’m quite interested in exploring. It occurs to me that what started out as an opportunity to explore other publishing options (ie re-release my old backlist) has turned into me trying to rebuild build name recognition. Given the work I’m releasing, that name recognition will be as an erotic romance author. Is that really what I want? Uh, no, not really.

I know a lot of authors are simply putting their books up online as written. Bless their hearts. I SO wish I could do that, but frankly, I’m much too anal to even consider the possibility. AQ2 has scared me straight and scarred me for life. I have to go through every book now, which means taking time away from creating. This is not something I take lightly, especially since I promised myself last year that I wouldn’t spend more time editing than I do writing. So far, I’m blowing it BIG TIME. That’s why once I finish AQ2 and put up the HEAT OF THE NIGHT novella from Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romances, I’m going to work on original stuff for a while. Call it mental self-preservation.

I do think with the rush to get our backlists up, authors need to think about what shape the big picture is taking. I didn’t and it suddenly has me worried that I may disappoint my readers…again. As I said before, not something I take lightly, since readers can only forgive so many times before they call it quits on an author.

10 comments to “What Am I Trying To Build?”

  1. Very good point, Jordan! I’m thinking about my backlist too…and where I want to go.

  2. I’m still stuck on your name recognition problem. I don’t know how you can get it under another name without starting all over or selling a manuscript to New York under a new name or spending a fortune on advertising. Didn’t Tess Gerritsen have her romance novels under the same name?

  3. Your post is something worth thinking about for everyone, I think. It also reminded me of this recent post by Nathan Bransford:

    It’s short & sweet, but nicely written – and the comments make for interesting reading.

    I can see what you’re saying here, though. And for the record… I’d love to see you writing more stuff in the vein of Red, Scarlet & Crimson. I would buy those in a heartbeat. 🙂


  4. Patrice, I honestly hadn’t thought about it until last week. It’s really something every author should think about, if they are planning longterm.

  5. Bernard, My name recognition is passive at best. Some readers have heard of me, MANY have not. When I go to events like BEA, I receive quite a lot of ‘have you published a book before’ questions. I lost a lot of readers when I left erotic romance. They didn’t follow me into Harlequin and certainly not Tor. I didn’t lose all of them, but I lost a lot given my ER sales numbers. I don’t know ultimately if I approached N.Y. with a new project that I’d be allowed to keep my name. My sales were pretty good (ie earning out on every book) until we hit the recession/depression.

    I know a new name would take time to build. That’s why I’m writing under another pen name now and plan to release more stories under that name, so that it won’t be such a start from scratch thing.

    As for Tess, yes, she wrote under the same name, then got nailed (still does) for the next ten years over being a ‘hack romance writer’, instead of a thriller author. Not something I’d like to hear if and when I switch genres, because unlike Tess, I don’t have the temperament to put up with it. *ggg

  6. Karen, I’ll definitely check out Nathan’s post.

    I will be writing more stuff in that vein. I have several things started already. I’m also going to write a couple of novellas around the secondary characters in the Dead World and release them as indie stories. After that, I have to break down and edit my YA to see if there’s anything there worth saving. 😉

    (((Thank you)))

  7. Yeah, this is food for thought for me, too.

  8. Charli, I think it’s important to look at the bigger picture. As you know, I’m all for putting up backlist, but you do have to consider how it may or may not effect your longterm goals.

  9. Great post J.

    And true. We have to be thinking about the big picture. What do we want our indie careers to look like?

    I have been pondering that as well. I have the second Glimmer book I want to write and put up by August. In between that I will be putting up my first YA, under my Tawny Stokes name, then I have to look and see what my next move should be.

    It’s not just a matter of slapping covers on work and putting them up for sell. I am getting my rights back to a couple of things, and I’m goind to be rewriting them to be more in line with what I’m doing now.

  10. Thanks V!

    I agree. Even with indie pubbing you still have to look at your career as a whole. What is working? What works with your current writing? Etc.

    I think that’s a great idea. I can’t wait to read your YA.

    You’re right, it’s not. I’m trying to rewrite/edit everything before it goes up. Of course, Exodus is testing my patience at the moment. I’m definitely going to have to put the books aside for a while once I get this one done. Even with all the rewriting and additions I’ve made, I’m still not sure where the book stands. Good for you for making sure your old work falls in line with your current writing.