I often hear from people who want to write a book but don’t know how or where to begin. Or from people who have already written a book that’s ready for publication but don’t know how to get it published. I recently began a new blog series, Writing and Publishing Tips From Authors Around the World, to help writers.
The twenty-third contribution to this series is U.S. author Hadena James with her new article about the importance of diversifying. Hadena has written and published sixteen books in four series.
Diversify Your Writing by Hadena James
Being an author is like any job, it requires a specialized skill set that needs to be expanded upon constantly as well as refreshed in our memories.
I am an author of a hodge-podge of series. I write serial killer horror/thrillers, urban fantasy, and I have a novella series that is romantic comedy. My aunt is also an author. She writes epic length (more than 120,000 words per novel) Christian western romances.
There is nothing wrong with writing Christian western romances of epic lengths, but she doesn’t sell very well. If she sells 50 books in a month, that’s a good month for her (if I sell 500, that’s a bad month for me). There are reasons that she doesn’t sell well; the first is that she broke the 2 cardinal rules of writing: hire an editor & unless you are really skilled with Photoshop, hire a cover artist. She draws her covers by hand and a different aunt does her editing, however that aunt is not a trained editor, so a lot of stuff falls through the cracks.
The second problem; she only writes Epic Christian Western Romances. There’s a market for them, to be sure, there’s a market for anything (need proof, go look up Bigfoot erotica or vorareaphilia erotica). However, it is not a huge market. Let’s be honest, most genres have bigger markets (including Bigfoot erotica).
Now, my aunt reads mysteries, Christian romances that are not historical or epic in nature, and romantic comedies, if they aren’t full of sex & foul language. Yet, she has pigeon-holed herself to only writing Epic Christian Western Romances. As long as she does that, she is never going to have huge months where the royalty monies flow like water from Heaven.
The reasons are self-evident: small market, the readers talk to each other, she breaks the 2 cardinal rules of indie publishing, and she won’t work on her skills or expand upon them. I believe she could write a regency romance or a mystery novel and it would reach a larger audience (even unedited with hand drawn covers) with some positive results.
When we limit ourselves or pigeon-hole ourselves, as my aunt has done, we are excluding a huge amount of readers. It isn’t a huge stretch for a mystery writer to also write thrillers or write paranormal mysteries to go with their “plain-jane, nothing supernatural” mysteries.
The reason why this happens is clear, an author picks up readers of each genre and those readers will read outside their comfort zone if they really like the author. I have a reader who can’t watch the Die Hard movies without having nightmares, yet she reads my serial killer horror/thrillers and loves them despite the nightmares. However, she didn’t start with the SKHT’s, she started with my romantic comedy series. She loved it, so she bought all my fantasy books. She loved those, so she sucked it up, so to speak, and read the first SKHT. After that she was hooked. She reads everything I write, even if it does give her nightmares.
Susan Finlay writes mysteries, but she doesn’t just write mysteries. She writes different kinds of mysteries. In The Shadows is a much different kind of mystery than Inherit the Past. Because of this, she reaches a broader audience, In the Shadows may not appeal to Reader X, but they love time travel stories, so instead they read Inherit the Past. As a result, Reader X might then go back and read In the Shadows because Inherit the Past was such a good book.
More proof that diversity is good.
AUTHOR BIO FOR HADENA JAMES:
I’ve been writing for over two decades and before that, I was creating my own bedtime stories to tell myself. I penned my first short story at the ripe old age of 8. It was a fable about how the raccoon got its eye-mask and was roughly three pages of handwritten, 8 year old scrawl. My mother still has it and occasionally, I still dig it out and admire it.
When I got my first computer, I took all my handwritten stories and typed them in. Afterwards, I tossed the originals. In my early twenties, I had a bit of a writer’s meltdown and deleted everything. So, with the exception of the story about the raccoon, I actually have none of my writings from before I was 23. Which is sad, because I had seven Aislinn Cain novels written along with a half dozen other novels and well over two hundred short stories.
It has all been offered up to the computer and writing gods as a sacrifice and show of humility or some such nonsense that makes me feel less like an idiot about it.
I have been offered contracts with publishing houses in the past and always turned them down. Now that I have experimented with being an Indie Author, I really like it and I’m really glad I turned them down. However, if you had asked me this in the early years of 2000, I would have told you that I was an idiot (and it was a huge contributing factor to my deleting all my work).
Personally, I really do suffer from a severe anxiety disorder and migraines. I find both to be huge impediments to the life I would like to lead. I find solace in the fact that I have found a significant other that tries to understand my obsession with writing, wonderful family members who support my writing obsession and a best friend who understands and accepts me regardless of my quirks and idiosyncrasies (for the record, she is more like Alex from The Dysfunctional Chronicles than Nyleena).
When I’m not writing, I play in a steel-tip dart league and enjoy going to dart tournaments. I enjoy renaissance festivals and sanitized pirates who sing sea shanties. My appetite for reading is ferocious and I consume two to three books a week as well as writing my own. Aside from introducing me to darts, my SO has introduced me to camping, which I, surprisingly, enjoy. We can often be found in the summer at Mark Twain Lake in Missouri, where his parents own a campground.
I am a native of Columbia, Missouri, which I will probably call home for the rest of my life, but I love to travel. Day trips, week trips, vacations on other continents, wherever the path takes me is where I want to be and I’m hoping to be able to travel more in the future. I have a degree in history from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
I speak English and German with a smattering of Russian in there for some very bizarre reason.
And no, I don’t always write in complete sentences… I refuse to… It sounds stiff and formal when I do.