Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Thanks! and what's next?

First of all, I really can't thank y'all enough for all of your congrats - you really made reaching THE END feel that much more special! And I'm sorry for not blogging more often - I'm gearing up for a very large trial next month and that tends to suck a ton of time.

Right now I'm in the process of revising my WIP... really, I don't think it should take this long for someone to read their own book. But I've gotten bored and other people have sent me their ARCs that I couldn't resist! My goal is to finish reading through the WIP and make the corrections on the computer by the end of the work week. Then this weekend my goal is to write all the new scenes, plot it all out on a plotting board, and get 'er ready to send out to beta readers! Go me!

So this weekend, as we were walking the dog, The Boy turned to me and said, "What's next?"

Good question. And, fortunately, one I've been pondering. My WIP is actually the first of a trilogy. Not that it can't stand alone - it totally can. It's a very lose trilogy (and yes, I do know I owe y'all another post on series...). But I don't want to invest in Book 2 of the trilogy until I know that the first one would... well... sell. No need for a follow-up if there's nothing to follow up. I could always start it, get a partial together just in case... but... eh.

At the same time, I'm a huge believer that once one project leaves the door, it's time to start on the next. So if I'm not starting on Book 2 of the trilogy, then what? This leads to a pretty complicated series of thoughts... my WIP is VERY different from what I've written in the past. It's dark. It's paranormal. It's YA. It's not really where I ever would have seen myself - but I love it.

Which leads me to a question that I come round to every now and again: how do I want to brand myself? Do I want to keep writing darker, speculative fiction YA? Do I want to go back to the lighter stuff - the chick lit YA? Or do I want to go back to straight romance where it all began?

Unfortunately, I don't see myself ever going back to straight romance. I hardly even read straight romance any more. I can't put my finger on it... but something has just changed in me as a reader and writer. Realizing this makes me a little sad because I've always dreamed of being a romance writer.

But at the same time, it gets me all excited too. Because I'm now in love with YA (young adult). I know that scads of authors are dipping their toes in the YA pool, and I really really hope we don't see a market correction like we did with chick lit. But I think it's awesome that all of this attention is focused on the next generation of readers. I remember so well all of the nights I stayed up late reading as a kid/teen. I swear that I learned to speed read because of Christopher Pike. To think that I could count myself as part of that tradition - that my writing could cause that same sense of excitement (getting a little ahead of myself here...)

One of the things I think I like most about YA is that there don't seem to be as many rules. So much of writing and storytelling is new to these readers. They don't know "trite" like adults do. They aren't tired of the same old same old. The don't say "well this book has X so it doesn't fit in Y genre" or vice versa. It just seems like the strict lines that adults place on their own genres is so blurred in the YA world.

I feel like as I ponder my next book that I could write anything - the world is wide open! And that's a pretty cool feeling.

So what do y'all think? Think YA is going the way of chick lit? Think there are rules that I'm just blind to? Any thoughts on branding as an author?


Patrick Alan said...

Do you have to brand yourself? I personally plan to float around writing several different genres. And I'll market each under a different psuedonym. If one takes off, then I have a focus. Until then, I'll continue to write in the genre that is pulling me the most at the time.

I'm reminded of someone else who did that - Nora Roberts. Dean Koontz is another writer known for having many psuedonyms.

And I don't try to predict the market too much. Although, I think you're right about YA. More people are targeting it as a gold mine at the moment. That could saturate it.

Erica Ridley said...

YA may become saturated, but it will never go away. If it's your love, then I say write it!

As for me, the branding thing did cause my concern. The first two stories I ever wrote weren't earth shattering, but the third is, I think, salable. However, after book 3, I found the genre I really really love (funny paranormal) and so I'm totally not shopping poor old book 3.

Part of me thinks I should shop it--after all, I spent that much time writing it!--but I don't want to take the risk of branding myself as, say, a Regency-set Historical author when I would really love to make a name for myself as contemporary paranormal romcom.

True, I could do the psuedonym thing, but for now I've decided to stick with one genre at a time. (After all--I'm unpubbed! *g)

Patrick Alan said...

I would shop it.

Carrie Ryan said...

I think I lean more towards what Erica is saying. My first book was a historical western romance - no way I wanted to brand myself as an author that way. I knew when that book was done that I was never going to write a second one.

And I agree with Patrick - I don't think you *have* to brand yourself, but I know it's something I want to do. I'd like to build up a readership, be able to make money at writing. And I think it's harder to do that if you write in a lot of different genres under different names. (By the way, I think Nora already had a very solid fan base when she wrote as JD Robb. In fact, she chose the psudenym because she didn't want to tick off her romance readers. A lot of writers have taken new names because their old names either had a different reputation or weren't selling like they wanted them to.)

I clearly haven't had that much focus thus far in my writing. I've written a western historical, a contemp romcom, a college age chick lit, and this current horror YA. I'm not trying to predict the market as much as I'm trying to figure out where I want to fit in it (dude, if I were trying to predict the market I never would have written my current WIP - trust me :)

Patrick Alan said...

Mt perspective is a business one learned from others much more experienced than I. Psuedonyms are useful for many reasons. A writer isn't branded a psuedonym is branded, you don't necessarily have to draw the link. It's your choice as a writer.

You definitely want to brand a 'Name'. Publishers want to brand you.

From a business perspective, if you get a contract, you will likely get a multi-book contract or at least a first refusal on 'your' next book. Some genres only want 1 book per year, which is fine, except if you write three books per year and the current contract isn't say 'lawyer salary level'.

Now, all of this is pretty much second hand knowledge since I have not sold any books, but in first refusal, generally, you want to make sure it is narrowed down as much as possible so you CAN write under psuedonyms, although they may try to block the same genre. Understandably. But if you are under contract to write a particular sub-genre, and you are ahead in your writing schedule and have 2/3 of a year left of writing...psuedonyms and other genres are your friend. :) (I'm still unclear whether a psuedonym can be used in the SAME genre. Probably depends on the contract.)

So, uh... where was I. Uh, yeah Branding = good thing. If worried about your dark erotica affecting your Hard SF and Regency, don't link the psuedonyms. :)

My understanding was that Nora started both around the same time, but 'Nora' took off first. But either way.

It's a good safer strategy anyway. Say book three of your YA series tanks and you can't sell another. If your historical westerns are still doing ok, you aren't completely unemployed.

As a business, if you only have 1 customer, you are putting too many eggs in one basket...

That's just my perspective on it. YMMV.

Carrie Ryan said...

Patrick - I totally totally agree with you. I think I just misunderstood your arguments at first. I was thinking in terms of a 1 book per year output. Plus, I meant not branding myself, but branding a name (you're right - there's a distinction).

Ideally, I'd love to put out multiple books a year and if that means different genres then so be it. I have no problem with having different brands. I was just saying that I'm not sure it's worth it to totally hop around without branding each name. For example, putting out a historical western one year and never writing one again - there's just no way to build that name. Or putting out a sci fi one year, a romance the next year, a YA the next... also hard to brand and build loyalty.

But if you write in all of those genres at once and put out a book in each every year - kudos! That's a way to build multiple brands and that can be really smart.

I guess a lot of it comes down to people's personal output. I'd like to think I could write many many books in a year. At least two. but then again, my current one is now on month 6 and still not ready for beta-readers. I gotta pick up the pace!

Patrick Alan said...

I understand. :) ten year plan and all that. :) I'm not exactly spitting out books at this point either. That's my biggest problem.

I guess my perspective is this. Being unpublished, there's an advantage to continuing to write in the same genre - one could assume that you get better at writing that genre.

The downside is you have less flexibility in your marketing/sales of completed works.

Once you have a first contract, there are (probably)contractual obligations.

So, I guess if you have a book(a historical western) and you don't think you could write a second in that genre(under contract for money), then don't try to sell it.

See, for me, 'money under contract' would do it. It's an amazing inspiration. And I would find a way (hopefully) to work on the other stuff as well. And even if I only do two books in that genre, it really only helps me in other areas, since I'd have financial proof that I can write.

I'm sort of on the fence and have been planning on swapping back and forth between my two favorite genres, but then a conversation with an agent brought up another idea that was WAY back in my head, so...

Ahh the challenges of having an open field as an unpublished writer...So nice to not have contractual deadlines... :(

For me, it is which ever genre pops first.

Carrie Ryan said...

Yeah, I get you on the whole "whatever genra pops first." To a certain extent, that's what I'm doing. I still have plans to finish up that YA chicklit (and that's one of the things that I like about YA - there don't seem to be as many hard core genra lines).

For me, the key is finishing the book. I.e. not hopping around so much that I don't move forward.

And honestly, as strange as it sounds, I'm not sure I could write another western even for money (and this would be really little money here - I doubt that book would get much more than a small advance - ahem, if it ever sold at all). And that's just not where I want to put my effort. I'd much rather scrap that one book and start in a place I like.

You may be asking why I ever wrote that book in the first place if I never wanted to write another one again. Good question! Poor planning on my part :)