Cross-genre. You’ll hear the term a lot in writing circles. But what is it? It’s book that melds the elements of more than one genre together. Books are coded by something known as a BISAC code that allows libraries to appropriately shelve a book and search engines to find it. The list is extensive and usually books can have two BISAC codes. (You can check out the list for fiction here: bisg.org/page/Fiction But be warned—it’s extensive!)
My forthcoming book Shark’s Hunt, book #3 of the Shark Santoyo Crime Series, can appropriately be filed under FIC031010 FICTION / Thrillers / Crime, but it’s possible that it could be filed under FIC027260 FICTION / Romance / Action & Adventure or FIC022000 FICTION / Mystery & Detective / General. Or I could just go for a broad category and label it: FIC044000 FICTION / Women. Am I the only one who finds it odd that women are a category of fiction? There isn’t a category for Men. Or is all fiction assumed to be men’s fiction and we need to let people know that this book over here is just for women? Seems odd, but we’ll just leave that one alone for now.
But beyond the BISAC codes, which while useful, are not the end all definition of a book, there is marketing and that’s where things get persnickety. An author and a marketer need to be able to tell and sell someone on a book in 30 seconds or less.
The Shark Santoyo Crime Series is a witty, romantic saga about a violent suburban underworld. Shark Santoyo and Peregrine Hays are the Romeo and Juliet of the criminal set and they are determined to find justice, revenge, and true love. There’s just an entire mob and a few dirty FBI agents in the way.
So from my “elevator pitch” you should know that there’s going to be violence, romance, crime, and a touch of humor. But all of those things are hard to encompass in a single book description and a cover. Which is why you’ll see cross-genre books “pushed” toward one genre. There’s a girl in the book – make it sexy on the cover! Don’t mention the humor – humor doesn’t sell! On the other hand, when a book succeeds you’ll hear people knowingly say, “Well, it’s really cross-genre.” Of course, it’s cross-genre! No book is ever one thing entirely. It’s as though an author just can’t win.
Yesterday, AB Plum talked about the woes of promoting. She’s not alone in finding that the grind of “getting yourself out there” is not fun. Most authors find that to be the hardest part of the job. We’re the kind of people who invent people to talk to. Talking to real people is just so, so, so much harder. Real people rarely say what we tell them to say for one thing. She also mentioned that she’s working on her marketing plan.
I see your hands coming up. “What is a marketing plan?” you ask. Excellent question.
A marketing plan is a comprehensive document or blueprint that outlines a business advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year. It describes business activities involved in accomplishing specific marketing objectives within a set time frame.
I don’t know how AB feels about marketing plans, but my thoughts are two-fold. My first thought, upon completion of a plan, is incredibly smug. I’m soooo organized. Who wouldn’t want to be as organized as me. My second thought is usually about two seconds later. How did I miss that deadline? Why is this going down in flames? What do you mean the cost of that ad went up? Ahhhhhhhh!!!!
All of which is to say that behind every successful book there is an author who is using a wet blanket to try and put out the dumpster fire of her marketing plan.
When Stars Take Flight takes the story of Thumbelina into space and reimagines the fairy tale for a new age—the future.
Kidnapped by the To’Andans, tortured by the Moliter, and rescued by Sparrow Pandion—a spy who hides a secret pain—Alliance Ambassador Lina Tum-Bel is up against a galaxy full of trouble as she attempts to rebuild the Interstellar Alliance. Her training says that she can’t trust her handsome rescuer, but maybe together, she and Sparrow can learn to fly.
I laughed when I read AB Plum’s recent post about unhooking from the virtual world. It has been a long time since I didn’t enhance my RL (real life) experience with some sort of virtual interaction. Photos on Facebook, the occasional witty comment on twitter, blogs and websites, they are all part of my life. Partially this is simply a function of my life and jobs. As a graphic designer and a writer, social networking is part of the must do list. As a designer, it’s important that I be able to design ads for Facebook and other social media platforms and understand how the platforms function. As a writer, it’s important that I use those platforms to reach an audience.
Which is not to say that I’m an expert. As a designer, I get to create content and simply walk away. The writer half of me definitely has it harder. I have to remember to post (you wouldn’t think this was hard, but…), to come up with valuable and interesting content, and then not waste all of my writing time on marketing and social media. On the other hand, for the last six months I’ve been swinging very much the other way. I have not been doing a lot of marketing. I have in fact been writing. A lot. A ton. Lots of tons. So much so that I’ve planned out my releases for 2018 and 2019.
So, stay tuned for tons of updates later this summer. Crime, sci-fi, a touch of fairy tales, and of course more than a little bit of romance are heading your way. And strangely, I can’t wait to start marketing ALL of it. If you want to get in on early give-aways (print and digital!) and announcements, join my mailing list at: bethanymaines.com/contact
ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THE STILETTO GANG 6.14.17
As I have been exploring the question “Who are you like?” this month, I’ve also been exploring what other books in my genres look like. This is sometimes gratifying on the base level of my fonts are so much better than yours and also sometimes mystifying on the level of why are there so many bared midriffs in contemporary fantasy? On the topic of midriffs, and purely for example’s sake, I’ll put the cover of Shifting Jock in Love here. The cover is obviously… uh… fully functional, because I can’t stop staring at the uh… weight lifting bar. Now that we’ve covered that topic (no, we haven’t covered anything?), let me move on to my point.
Market research, which is what I call shopping and (gently) making fun of book covers over a glass of wine, is important. It’s hard to review my own book cover submissions if I don’t know what the trends are. Not that trends should inform every decision, but I like to know how far out of the current I’m swimming. In addition to finding the occasional good idea that I could be copying, I also find really interesting authors. Research shows that most people buy books based on word of mouth, but in this online age, that can’t ALWAYS be true. From Facebook to google ads, to the wonders of Amazon, we get a lot of recommendations about authors and books online. And without a person to ask, readers are stuck trying to answer “so who are they like” question based on the marketing surrounding the book. But as we all learned in grade school, you can’t always judge a book by it’s cover.
One great resource I’ve found in my wading around the internet is a great website – www.literature-map.com Simply type in an author you like and it will produce of an animated cloud of similar authors aka a handy new To Be Read list. And you can click on the question mark in the corner if you want to add authors to the database to improve results. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go enjoy a little more market research and a Riesling.
Originally published on 8/24/16 at the Stiletto Gang
One of the most common questions a writer hears is: Who are you like? In other words, what (famous, more talented, richer, that I would have heard of) author are you like? Of course, as authors we would always like to respond – I am like no one! I am a unique snowflake of infinite genius! Bow down before my staggering work of novelistic achievement! Possibly at this point is where we also start investing in a parrot, flowing robes, and a pencil thin moustache to twirl. I’m not saying all authors would go full Disney villain. Clearly, the eyebrows and make-up require a more high-maintenance lifestyle than most of us are cut out for. I’m just saying, nobody likes to think of themselves, as “just like” somebody else.
However, temper-tantrums and eyeliner aside, it is a useful question. It does let people know where they should look for you in the library and where you fall on their reader spectrum. For the record, I usually answer this question with – Janet Evanovich. My series Carrie Mae Mysteries is female centered spy series, with plenty of hunks, humor, and huge action scenes. However, I also write in another genre – contemporary fantasy. I write modern day fairy tales about fairies, vampires, and what happens when a mermaid meets a SEAL.
Writing in multiple genres used to be very “not done” because the publishing houses found it hard to market. The prevailing wisdom was that readers don’t read multiple genres (uh… say what?), Self-publishing has opened the door for authors to write whatever their unique snowflake heart’s desire, but it’s still a risk, and a challenge for those doing the marketing, to figure out what to say to the question – who do you write like?
I guess for now, I’ll have to go with this answer – I write like my fingers are fire with sheer greatness and my mascara is totally, totally on point.
Originally posted on 8.10.16 at The Stilettog Gang
My dad says he invented the skateboard.
He says that he had never before seen or heard of a skateboard when he put a plank on skate wheels. Of course, his invention went no further than a backyard of summer fun, but he still likes to claim his invention when some youth sails by on a long board.
Well, now I feel his pain. James Patterson, Mr. Prolific himself, is in the process of releasing what he’s calling “Book Shots” — novella length works, penned with co-authors, that cost less than five dollars.
You have no idea how annoyed this makes me.
Because it was MY idea. This month I’m releasing Wild Waters, a novella length paranormal romance (sex scenes!) story. The genre is outside of my usual brand, but I thought the structure and topic were interesting (reporters, SEALs, Vietnam!). I also thought my readers might enjoy something at a lower price point, but in my style of writing. I examined the options. I had the thoughts. I came up with the plan.
And then James Patterson stole it out of my brain! How dare he use his larger amounts of money, time and fame to launch my idea! It makes me want to march right over to his house and give him a toddler. Let’s see how fast he can type then. Toddlers should be like weights for jockeys. If Vegas gambled on writer’s turning in manuscripts on time, I’m sure that they would have developed some sort of toddler distribution system by now. Fortunately, for Mr. Patterson and for me, there’s plenty of room in this world for novella’s and writers of all kinds, with or without toddlers. Good luck to both of us with our tiny books.
Originally Published at the Stiletto Gang on 06.08.16
In my quest for world book domination I frequently peruse tips on how to better market myself/books. Some come up with some interesting strategies that are worth pursuing and then there’s this list…
I won’t mention the name of the blog I found it on because I don’t believe in public shaming. But let’s just assess a few of the items on this list shall we?
Comment on Blogs – The theory is that you will become recognized and friends with other blog commenters as well as those running the blog and then you will RISE TO FAME! Or… not. Of course, having additional friends will help you expand your fan base. But pursuing that strategy for the sake of selling books is so lacking in any genuine feeling that it will actually turn people against you.
Bethany Rule #1 – always be your best self online. Only comment on a blog if you have something interesting and positive to add to the conversation. Trolls don’t sell books.
Create a Viral Video – Let’s just hop right on that shall we? We’ll get out or cell phones and film our cats and then, bam, done! As this article on Slate indicates, only 10% of YouTube videos get more than 1000 views. Videos these days are higher in quality and there a simply MORE of them out there than in the beginning days of social media. Here’s my attempt at a viral video – it’s awesome, you should watch it. But I only paid for food for the crew and a make-up artist to make the video happen, everything else was done in trade. I felt comfortable with my investment and I view the video as a great sales tool to introduce people to my book series, but I never counted on it going viral.
Bethany Rule #2 – if you have to pay a lot of money for a product that you’re going to giveaway for free, it’s probably not worth it.
Go on National TV – Yup, I’m just going to dial up Oprah right now, promise her some bread, and book myself on National TV. Getting air time, particularly on a National level, is one of the things that happens when you’re ALREADY famous. There’s a reason Donald Trump has ceased to advertise. He’s getting 15% of the national news time (according to a recent news piece I saw on my local news) and 50% of the election coverage. He doesn’t NEED to advertise. I’m not recommending that you be Donald Trump – one is more than enough – but being getting air time is something that you either pay for, or you get because your famous for something already.
Bethany Rule #3 – work to be locally famous. Join groups. Send press releases. Volunteer to judge writing contests. Talk to people. Network and connect – people sell books.
The internet is full of many tips, some are more helpful than others. I just hope that you find mine a little more helpful than the one from the blog that shall remain nameless.