This was one of my problems when I first published an adult novel and then switched to Young Adult.
Should authors produce the same kinds of stories? Personally I loved reading Maria V Snyder’s Poison Study series and then the Healer series and finding them both basically the same kind of story, with the same type of heroine, love interest, and even a pair of allies who treated the heroine like a sister.
The same with David Gemmell’s heroic fantasy novels – mostly starring loner former heroes past their prime (Druss, Waylander, Jon Shannow) or young outcasts (Skilgannon, Gaelen) with a token warrior woman who will still need rescuing, often with some kind of man-beast hybrid that would have to be murdered eventually. I could pick up any Gemmell book and know exactly what I would be getting. There is always a quiet swordsman, a brute, and an archer in the team novels.
John Green writes manic pixie dream girls and boys as love interests.
Rick Riordan writes about descendants of mythological gods.
Cassandra Clare writes thinly veiled Harry Potter fanfiction.
Richelle Mead writes YA heroines who are smart and sassy and go-getters.
Stephanie Meyer specialises in weird love triangles.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
Personally I like being able to say, “I feel exactly like a David Gemmell novel” and being able to pick up one that hits all the right buttons.
My own writing
Both of my full-length novels are wildly different.
- Adult vs teen protagonist.
- POC vs white ‘goth’ girl
- Sci-fi vs paranormal.
- Established relationship vs new love interest.
- Deep space vs suburbia.
- Limited characters vs larger cast.
But there are certain similarities:
- Strong/powerful female lead
- Diverse cast
- Feminist slant on the storyline
- Both heroines overcome their own issues and are the agents of their own stories
- BUT both heroines need the help of their friends/allies to do so
- Both characters’ actions propel the storyline forward.
- I like to think of them as both active heroines, not passive.
That is what I’m aiming for in my ‘branding’.
In all of the stories I write, I want those similarities to be there. I want someone to be able to identify a Lissa Bilyk novel and be able to say, “Yes, I recognise those elements from her other novels” even though I’m writing in different genres with different plots and different characters.
I want my books to be different but familiar.
Every year I prepare a writing playlist specifically for NaNoWriMo. Sometimes I need absolute silence to write, other times I can do with some tunes to get me in the right frame of mind.
I find that film soundtracks work best of all.
This year I discovered Spotify. It’s a free web player with a massive library of albums. The only downside is that sometimes they put in ads, but that’s OK because they tend to only last for about 30 seconds. It can be frustrating interrupting your music flow, but for a free web player i won’t be complaining.
NOTE – I tried using the Spotify app on my phone, but it’s not the same. Selecting a playlist led to other random songs being played as well. Only on the web player and on tablets does it actually do what you want it to do.
Here is this year’s playlist, thanks to Spotify:
Spotify says it’s about 6 hours worth of music. It’s remarkably different to my 2011 NaNo soundtrack which eventually consisted of one song played on repeat.
A few weeks ago I began an experiment that is still ongoing.
I made my two Kindle Select books, paranormal short story collections The Archive of Lost Dreams and Storm Front, free on Amazon for two days.
But I didn’t tell anyone about it, because I wanted to see how the algorithm works without publicity and if they could be discovered organically.
I’m not into marketing my books, you see. I believe that if I make them available and keep them available, someone might find what they’re looking for.
However, to continue the experiment (and because I have three days leftover) I am making them free again from 15th April to 17th April.
This time I’m telling everyone.
You can find them on Amazon.com by clicking on the covers.
One of the perks of being an indie author is the ability to change the cover art of your books whenever you feel like it.
I’ve never been 100% happy with the original cover for The Archive of Lost Dreams because the Smashwords version, which uploaded to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel and Sony among others, was always a little blurry no matter what I did.
So I’ve changed the cover ever so slightly. It’s still got the same feel to it and it’s very similar to the original cover. I like this one better, though.
As a side note, I’ve temporarily unpublished The Archive of Lost Dreams and Storm Front from the Smashwords store and affiliates. They’ve been available for free there for quite some time (thanks for the downloads!), but while I was doing that, I was unable to make them free on Amazon. This gives me a chance to enroll them in Kindle Select and make them free for five days in a 3 month period. Keep a look out for the free promotions on Amazon!