In my last post, I detailed how I would be minimizing Facets of Fantasy, Ryan and Essie, and Bellevere House because they didn't match with my target audience of young adults--middle school and high school kids. Yes, I know these kids are not adults in the real world, but in Bookland this age bracket is called Young Adult. And that was fine until I began examining more books and realized I'd have to cut even more. These were subtler--This Merry Summertime, The Test of Devotion, and A Year with the Harrisons were often about teenagers, but were teenagers usually the audience?
The answer was no. They are mostly interesting to adults and also at times to children because they are a "for the whole family" sort of genre and kids like that genre a lot more than teenagers do. So I was like "I have to find a solution to this instead of cutting out the books."
Then I went back to an idea from last year, which was to divide into 4 genres that I do. I even put that on my business cards. These genres are Science Fiction; Coming of Age; Short Stories; and Middle Grade. The Science Fiction is especially a young adult area, whereas the books that would be cut landed in the Coming of Age and Short Stories categories especially. We're talking 100% of books from those two categories!
I decided to stick with these 4 genres, with a twist--I would place each book into a trilogy and replace individual book pages on my website with trilogy pages that list each book in the trilogy on that page. It helps keep track of them and make sure they are evenly divided across 4 categories. In reality, I feel a lot of these books represented interpolation of other audiences than mine into my written work. It's a bit sad that so few of my books were really for MY audience, meaning few of the people who followed me were really that audience either. But since these books DO exist now, I have to find a way to manage them.
Trilogy 1: The Palladia Trilogy. Science Fiction. Obviously, this is the 3 Palladia books already written into a series.
The Palladia Trilogy of YA action-adventure stories is set in the future civilization of Palladia, a country that exists 300 years from now. This future society puts people into contrived divisive groups, and it opposes rebels who try to ignore these artificial differences and build a shared world. The three books focus on Palladia, but also include the countries of Belaria and Dorilantz.
Trilogy 2: The Americana Trilogy. Coming of Age. (The Test of Devotion; Bellevere House; and A Year with the Harrisons.) At first this seems crazy because Bellevere is already in a series, but after reading the description it does make sense.
The Americana Trilogy is a loose umbrella term for three novels for adults written with a realistic American setting. The books are set approximately 100 years from each other (1850; 1937; & 2015) and explore American small-town, rural, archetypical western, and religious life. They were not originally written as a series and Bellevere House, the second book in the trilogy, is listed with its original publication grouping, the Vintage Jane Austen, on some retailers. But they are often linked together because of their shared genre and themes.
Trilogy 3: The Worlds Across Time Trilogy. Short Stories. (This Merry Summertime; Ryan and Essie; and Facets of Fantasy.) Largely, this is anything fantasy and it also comprises a large bulk of my older writing, some of it gestated long before it was published.
The Worlds Across Time Trilogy is a group of for-the-whole-family short story collections. They showcase teen or 20-something protagonists as well as older adults and children for a balanced aesthetic that offers something for everyone. Fantasy, historical eras shown in a light-hearted way with modernized dialogue, and daily contemporary life mixed with a dose of fantasy are the primary genres.
Trilogy 4: The Prince's Invite Series. Middle Grade. This has the 2 remaining books (Victoria: A Tale of Spain and The Birthday Present) and I decided to play off of the fact that one was partly a rewrite of the other. I need a third book for this series so I can (FINALLY) get back to work on Temmark Osteraith also sometimes called The Prince's Ball. It uses the same plot devices and is I guess a rewrite of first two.
The Prince's Invite Trilogy is an informal grouping of three stories for middle-school girls. Each book in the trilogy uses a similar storyline--the first half sets up a historical or adventure story about a young girl. In the second half of each book, a girl is invited to a dance by a wealthy ruler of her country, who is threatened because she owns something that discredits him. The third book, Temmark Osteraith, is planned for publication in 2024.
I also plan to release a Complete Trilogy Anthology of each series because it will be so much faster and easier for reviewers to have the books all in one volume. Sending series to reviewers can be really clunky because you have to give copies of every book in the series along with whichever one they are reviewing. Unless they are reviewing the first one, but of course I want them to move on and read later ones!
And there will be more updates.
Over the past few months, I did some evaluation of being an author at this point in my life and I began to get over negative interactions with previous readers. Last week I went into Amazon again for the first time in years. Not with flight syndrome about comparing my books to other people's or even comparing my books to each other. I just examined the book section as if I was new to reading, like a potential audience for a book--an increasingly disengaged, only-reads-a-little-bit type of reader. In short, the way most people browse Amazon books. It was both eye-opening and fun. I really, really enjoyed it. After looking at each genre, I noticed readership patterns, types of books that were popular, and levels of engagement with entire genres that surprised me. (Some have MUCH less than you'd think, some much more.) My books are on a par with other authors except for visibility and intensely genre-specific expensive cover design. But I don't write formula trope books that readers can pick out just by their cover. I write within a category, but my work has a bit broader goals than being identical to other books and for placement within a genre, so readers have some idea what to expect, my covers are more than adequate. They're actually excellent.
I found myself in the Teen and Young Adult Category, which is how I've marketed myself for basically all my writing career. But a problem arose as I noticed that three of my books didn't really fit into the category and what I find quite ironic is that these three out-of-character books have also been some of the most reviewed. If readers were looking to learn more about my writing (or about me personally), they should have looked at any of the other books that were tucked away on the side since those are far closer to showing my thoughts on relationships or at least more reflective of my writing persona even if they don't reveal much about my personal life.
So for various reasons, these three books keep my marketing from being sufficiently focused on a category. They are still available for sale and I have added hardcover editions of them on Amazon along with the hardcovers for all my other books. But I am simply removing them as part of my overall author image. For instance, they don't appear on my website; they won't be featured in any new stories that use characters from my books (after consideration, I've changed my mind from a few months ago when I planned to use elements from Bellevere); and they will not be promoted through review or book promotion sites. I feel almost sorry for readers who got sidetracked by these three books, even if finding out more about my personal secrets wasn't a good motive to have. I need to be very clearly a Young Adult Author so in future I am going to be a little more focused on that genre. What started out as simply an openness to trying more writing styles became a bit of a marketing issue when my less-typical books were viewed by readers as my primary ones. And since neither of us found what we wanted--they gained no information about my personal opinions and I didn't get a dedicated readership on my slice of YA fiction--it's best to take a new path that is more narrowly placed.
And there will be more updates.
I’m excited to announce that my entire collection of books is available as part of the Smashwords 2022 End of Year Sale! This is a chance to get my book, along with books from many other great authors, at a promotional discount. Each author chooses the discount level--mine is at 50%. That's 50% off every one of my books. Prices now range from free to $1.99!
You can find the promo here:
This sale runs from December 15th through January 1st. Smashwords is a huge indie publishing site. For years it was the primary alternative to Amazon for self-publishers, and this year-end sale will be advertised to about 1 million readers! Since the merge between Smashwords and Draft2Digital, D2D authors like me are now part of Smashwords. I had made an account with them before, but they use a complicated file conversion method and I could not get it to work. Now D2D does the conversions for me, so except for some tweaks to Ryan and Essie, where a small area of front matter needed its own separate heading, every one of my files converted nicely. My books are on a new account created this month when Smashwords opened to D2D authors.
Making an account at Smashwords is very easy. It was the file conversion step that got me. As readers you will find the site lovely to use because you can download books in non-Kindle formats and read them on your computer or phone. They also stay in your account on Smashwords so you can always access them. And if you wouldn't mind lending a hand to me and the other indie authors taking part in this sale, you can share this promo with your friends and family. Just copy the book link I put above and send it to anyone who would love a chance to find their next favorite book!
Thank you for your help and support!
This weekend I'm traveling into the Texas panhandle, a 14-hour trip driving both ways, to the wedding of an old family friend. I'll stay overnight with my sister for three nights over the weekend to cut the driving into stages because we have to be at the wedding at a certain time. (Duh.) I haven't traveled much at all for many years, so it feels quite different. I have to remind myself that the natives (gasp) speak English! Even Texas English. Really, it's not that far from home. But if you look at a Google map of where I've been recently, there are like 5 dots pointing to places I went last year to visit my sister in Oklahoma and then about 200 dots all clustered in 4 towns close together. This will be a much-needed change of pace.
Similarly, I am looking into a much-needed change of pace with my published works. I've traveled the same ground with them many times by now. The idea I last pitched to you, of writing a story that linked all of them together, grew in my mind into separate stories, one about each of the books. So really, it's like a reloaded version of the original book. Why is this necessary? Because I've taken to looking at these books in the same way and my readers have done the same.
In fact, a lot of readers have become like robots when they read any book, with predictable reactions that show a lack of real involvement. They praise every book the same way based on their having liked the cover, been assured it was their kind of story, and then skimmed through to find a few plot points they wanted to be there. Their negative reviews are also hack--they dislike every story for identical reasons, don't like the cover, skim through and find it missing those few plot points they like, and then complain it's poorly written!
They also can't accept rewrites or changes. Once they've skimmed the book, they go on robotically treating it the same way because their actions are not dictated by observation of the book, more by habit. If they find they can't get away with the same opinions because the book has changed too much, they just huff and ignore it because they certainly can't be bothered to read the book again, which is odd for self-proclaimed bibliophiles who say they love reading. People often joke anxiously that there are real predictions AI could write the next bestseller because the formulas are becoming so uncreative. But readers can act like droids too.
First book I'm going to tackle is Bellevere House, because it was treated in a linear way over the years even though the book has been changed in important respects. A lot of reactions are just imitative of initial BETA readers. These beta readers published reviews of how they felt about the pre-publication manuscript. I am quite suspicious that one such reviewer, based on her comments to me, didn't even get past the third chapter! But she felt that was not important since she was not really reading, just skimming to look for elements to appear at set intervals. Once they did not appear when she wanted, sometime in the first three chapters, she just gave up, but that didn't stop her from being critical and many others from imitating her with assembly-line produced reviews for years. No matter what changes I made to the book, the underlying attitude in reviews never changed. It was like they were encoded with a computer virus.
There is no mandate that any particular elements must appear in a good story--just that the story uses some of the many possible elements for correct storytelling and no incorrect elements. That's not the point though, as Bellevere was quite a bad story. You'd think they would feel much fondness for something as flawed as this book (I can hear Emperor Palpatine chuckling "good, good. You are writing this in my voice!") because they are very flawed people. But for some reason they didn't and unlike other books, they've continued to give this one a lot of robotic attention. One reviewer of this type could be forgiven since we've all had immature moments. But after almost 6 years it has gotten quite stale. So I am going to write a little reboot of Bellevere that gives it a few twists, takes place about 10 years after the end of the book we have now, and focuses on Ed's internal struggle. And yes, it will be neatly edited without typos.
I do intend to use just a newsletter template in future! I know this is still a blog post, but setting up a newsletter direct from my provider instead of the blog format I've been doing takes a little time. I need to make the header and other elements match the one my newsletter subscribers have been receiving. I will get onto that soon.
So do please check out the Smashwords sale! You won't regret it as this is a great chance to explore a bunch of authors discounted from 25% to 100% off!
And there will be more updates.
Young Adult Fiction Author
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