Happy New Year Everyone!
As you might remember from last year, I intend to release anthologies of my previous work. Three anthologies are still in working cover design stage (I like the designs, not sure about the colors for them) and each anthology will have three books in it, grouped by theme. Birthday and Victoria aren't in an anthology because there isn't a third book to go with them. The reason for the anthologies is obviously practical efficiency. I have published a lot over the years and the books can look cluttered, especially to a first-time reader. While interest in the individual books of course remains, they are starting to unify into broader general categories rather than loads of individual titles. It's much less overwhelming to show people five books instead of eleven.
I have not published these anthologies because of two factors. The first is that I'd like to write a small story, at least one per anthology, that is unique new material exclusive to the anthology and not available elsewhere. I haven't had time to do this because the last six months have been hysterically busy. Our family has been in a state of transition as a beloved older relative died, one of my sisters had a lot of trouble at work, another sister is in the final semesters of medical school, my mother had heart surgery, and I spent all my time keeping the household running over a slew of continual emergencies and the hottest summer I've literally ever experienced. (And yes, I've lived in Texas my whole life. I'm quite heat tolerant.) I also made a commitment to much better fitness and exercise, which often left me tired, but I feel great about my new body even though it's been less than a year of changed lifestyle. So I did not have time to write anything new. Our house also went through a major upheaval as we wanted a lot of old stuff gone.
out out It's been over two years since I updated my picture. But this is the only new one I have, a random selfie, because I haven't had time to take serious author pictures. You know, the ones where you dress up and smile like you're wearing a wig even if you aren't? Don't worry, I will take some of those in the spring.
The second reason I haven't done the anthologies yet is that there IS still some individual attachment to some of the books. Readers feel these stick out from the others in the planned anthologies. This attitude is natural and it takes time to change. If you read the book pages on my website, you'll find a structured logic that I've applied to the anthologies when grouping books. For instance, if you look at Bellevere House outside of its original multi-author project, you'll see it has a lot of similarities with Devotion and Harrisons. But many people will struggle to see Bellevere that way because the Vintage Jane Austen is where they first got to know the book. Gradually it will make sense to think of Bellevere not as "that book that wasn't as liked, but very often read, in that series of books" and more to think "what genre is this book? It's a similar setting and genre to the other two books."
Other prickly bug areas included The Birthday Present, (because readers didn't want to accept moving Millhaven Castle away from Facets of Fantasy), and Ryan and Essie (because readers didn't like this book and didn't want it included with a book they'd had interest in, Facets of Fantasy.) So really, the prickly bug is actually Facets of Fantasy. lol. But nothing in Facets needs to be changed, it's just melding it with other placement of books that's a problem.
However, Ryan and Essie became quite different last year and the cover was redone to this lovely green color. Nice, huh? I noticed no books I've published currently have green covers and I was like "so that's what is missing." It's nice to find those leaks and patch them up. Not to mention, the cover is flat-out gorgeous.
I am planning a new cover for The Birthday Present because it and Facets are both blue and that helps link it to Facets, an outdated idea I'm getting tired of. Instead, I need Birthday to unify better with Victoria, which has a regal and austere black and gold. I just haven't had time to do the new cover yet.
And yes, that third book in the Birthday trilogy is poking along, with a new working title "All My Brother's Friends." I am REALLY hoping I get a chance to put a book with a fun title like that into a published form. Don't you think I should?
And there will be more updates.
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.
Young Adult Fiction Author
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