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Sunday, October 19, 2014

What's In Your Hat?

Thank goodness writers have choices these days! Used to be a writer had to write what their publisher told them to write. I've heard horror stories of requests for authors to change their names, adopt new pen names for different genres, or adopt a new pen name when a writer's book didn't sell well, giving a "fresh start" to things. Authors often trusted these decisions handed down to them, such as, "I don't think you can write suspense" or "you need to make this paranormal very dark and gritty and strip out all the humor." Some authors were able to accept and embrace these changes, and others could not. 

Just to be clear, some of those decisions and requests were good ones, and I don't pretend to understand or question the motivation of the Big 5. But we all know authors who didn't take their suggestion of tossing their manuscripts into the circular file, or sitting on them in boxes under their bed for twenty years. And let's not talk about what it does to an author who has had ten or fifteen manuscripts rejected, only to see something similar to one of their WIPs wind up on the shelves published by the same house. Good books were rejected due to shelf space, or "we already bought two titles in that line," and not because the book wasn't any good.


Today, if a writer can work hard to build a readership and audience, he or she can write in any genre, even in multiple genres and do it without changing their author profile or persona, depending. Things such as merging YA and Erotica would be obvious exceptions to this. But the secret to success today isn't necessarily in a "fantastic book" as in the promotion and the readership it gains, and how prolific the author can be. Authors who can churn it out quickly, have a distinct advantage in this market. And yes, the series is king. Once you sell them on the world, you don't need to sell it to everyone, you just need those people coming back over and over again.

I was floored when we asked readers how many books they read in Romance this year. Do you know what the average was of the 80 or so people who responded to that question? How about 200 books!! And did you know that there are some romance readers who read 1-2 books a day. I had a handful that said they'd read over 1000 books this year, and this year isn't even over yet! The average U.S. Citizen reads 5 books a year. That's right, 5.

So, when you have an avid public, looking for good reads and wonderful new authors to follow, because they have this insatiable appetite for reading, why would anyone want to restrict the number of books being written?

Mark Coker of Smashwords has said there is about a 413% increase in new titles this year. Do you think that will even make a dent in the shape of things if readers are reading 300 books a year? And with the ease of getting iBooks now on over a billion new iPhones and iPads out there today all over the world, with just one click, the market is certainly expanding. 


Some will argue the quality has suffered. Yes, we all know of some recent blockbusters that were poorly written, poorly edited and yet were loved to the point of making authors a household name, set for life. While it has worked for a few, I also don't advocate an author should aspire to this either. Putting out a professional book, looking professional, with professional detail to craft and editing, is still the goal. And today, we have readers who read everything from sweet cozy mystery to BDSM and back again.

So, I say hooray for choice and cross genre readerships, for series that go on for 25 books or more, for characters that blend elements to give us compelling stories in a wide variety of  textures and fabric that make up the quilt of the reader's desire. The world is becoming more connected through social media, some say getting smaller. But the world is also getting more and more varied as subgenres are able to flourish in this Indie Revolution.

And I think that's a good thing.


NYT and USA/Today and Amazon Top 100 Best Selling Author Sharon Hamilton’s SEAL Brotherhood series have earned her Amazon author rankings of #1 in Romantic Suspense, Military Romance and Contemporary Romance. Her characters follow a sometimes rocky road to redemption through passion and true love. Her Golden Vampires of Tuscany earned her a #1 Amazon author ranking in Gothic Romance.

A lifelong organic vegetable and flower gardener, Sharon and her husband live in the Wine Country of Northern California, where most of her stories take place.

Sharon's 8th book in the SEAL Brotherhood Series, SEAL's Promise is available for preorder now, and will launch on Veteran's Day, 11/11/14. Lots of parties are planned to sign up for the newsletter and find out how you can be a part of this exciting time for Sharon!


16 comments:

Lynda Bailey said...

Awesome post, Sharon! Your perspective is spot on IMO. Authors - whether indie or traditional - should always strive to produce a professional product.

(BTW~LOVE Northern California wine country!)

Judy Baker said...

Best of luck in your upcoming new release. I enjoyed your post and agree with all authors should want to produce the best work ever and always professionally.

jean hart stewart said...

Thought-provoking post. Thanks for stirring up my confused brain. I've got a great series with eight already accepted that could easily expanded and just might do that...Jean

Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Sharon. :)

Polly McCrillis said...

SEAL stories are so popular and yours is no exception, Sharon. With all those avid romance readers, I imagine you have a parade of fans. Congratulations to you and happy writing!

Sharon Hamilton said...

Lynda, Thanks for that vote of agreement. We walk a delicate line, but professionalism should always be the goal.

Sharon Hamilton said...

Judy, Thanks. Hard when you're trying to be prolific too, but always something that should be our goal.

Sharon Hamilton said...

Thanks, Jean. You go girl!!! 25 and counting!

Sharon Hamilton said...

Tina, thank you!

Sharon Hamilton said...

Thannk you, Polly. Love to hear the parade of fans. NYC here I come! LOL.

Melissa Keir said...

Wonderful post! Very inspiring! We do wear many hats and I love that we can have the choice to do what we want with our stories. I wish you all the best!

julie beasley said...

i love reading romance in different genres and its nice to know now that authors dont have to have another pen name. Your books in any genre are exciting to read and look forward to many more.

Sharon Hamilton said...

Thanks Melissa. Yes, I love the many hats too. There's room at this table for all authors which makes this time the very best for authors!

Sharon Hamilton said...

Thank you, Julie, for making the point that fans just like to follow the voice of the writer, and I too am glad we don't have to have different labels. Thanks for being one of my best supporters!

Sandy said...

Sharon, a wonderful post. Any author not getting an editor to go over their story before publishing it may fail at their career.

Sharon Hamilton said...

I agree, Sandy. Completely!!

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