Monday, October 15, 2012

Napoleon Dynamite & One Direction

So I'm getting ready to release my second book ROUGE in a little more than a month, and I've been thinking about author branding and readers knowing what to expect from me.

The Truth About Faking is selling well, and a HUGE Thank You! To everyone who's bought a copy and taken the time to leave a review. I love hearing from readers, so if you liked it, shoot me a note (link)!

Anyway, ROUGE is not like TTAF.

TTAF is very classic young adult. It's sweet, relatively clean. There's romance, some humor, a little message tucked inside. You finish the book smiling and with a warm feeling inside. I love that book.

ROUGE is what you might call "edgy" or "mature" YA. It's not sweet. The main character's struggling to escape some pretty terrible things, she falls in love with someone who's impossible for her to be with, and then it just gets worse. It features more than one adult situation, and I'm not sure how readers will walk away.

And I love that book, too.

But it makes me worry about how shifting gears is going to impact my readership.

There's still a message tucked inside ROUGE. And I wrote it, so you'll still hear my voice. It's just my voice isn't telling you such a happy story this time.

It's a good story. At times, I wonder if it might be the best story I've written. (How can anyone ever know that?)

Will it hurt me that I've set readers up with TTAF to expect one thing, and then I'm going to give them something very different in ROUGE?

I was thinking about John Heder (a.k.a., Napoleon Dynamite). He did that movie, and then he did the movie Blades of Glory, and then he sort of disappeared. Maybe sometimes doing the same thing, only going in one direction, can hurt you.

But what hurts more?

I guess I'm going to find out.

Have any of my other writer-friends gone through this? What has your experience been like?

In the meantime, I'm formatting, preparing, working. Thinking about how blessed I am to have such great reader- and writer-friends. 

Have a great week, guys~ <3


Laura Pauling said...

Very tough. I think the opinion varies on this. You might find it makes no difference at all. Or that you'll find different readers for it.
Or you could put a warning at the top of the description that this is mature YA so readers will know.
It'll be interesting to see.

Sarah said...

I wonder about this. Sanctum is urban fantasy, Scan is sci-fi, and Factory Ghost is sort of gothic steampunk. I'm not sure what my readership will make of it. I'll be very interested to hear your experience with this, Leigh!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I'm going to second Laura on this one. But for me, as a reader, I like to see an author stretch him/herself. Granted, I also am a writer, so that does influence my view. I definitely have thought of this, especially after reading TTAF. I'd love to write something that sweet and contemporary, if for nothing more than to stretch my abilities. But I'm normally all about the paranormal and fantasy, so I haven't tried it yet.

Ciara said...

It is a difficult subject. I like to see writers stretch themselves, but readers are looking for something they like and will stick with it.

Stina said...

I recently finished a workshop on YA branding. One of the exercises we had to do is figure out what three things we want readers to associate with our books, and write an author tagline to express it (hence mine on my blog). It was a three lecture process and was extremely helpful (especially since the instructor gave great feedback).

In my case it worked. Even my NA books will fit my YA author brand, even though I write YA contemporary and YA horror (both which have elements of danger, which will be missing from my first NA book). In your case, Leigh, you'll have to let readers know that the stories are very different. I love both kinds of stories, so I won't be disappointed. :D

Pat Hatt said...

I don't think it matters if you stretch into different avenues, as your voice will still be there in your writing. Heder is pretty much a one hit wonder, if you can call that a hit haha

Old Kitty said...

Oh gosh - I just know your second book will be just as loved! Like you said - it's got your voice and it's been written with love!! I say be bold and brave!! Good luck!! Take care

Laurel Garver said...

I think this is one of the sticky things Rowling is dealing with. She was very clear that TCV is for adults, but had built up such a brand with the HP series it was hard for her die-hard fans to make the switch. I think the issue is more a problem if you've done loads of things in the same genre and tone. You seem to be setting up your "brand" as eclectic from the get-go.

Bish Denham said...

It's sad and a bit scary that writers feel concerned about not being able to write in more than one genre or in more than one style.

People talk about actors getting typecast and how that can be a bad thing. Isn't it the same for writers? Has Jane Yolen only written PBs? No. Has she only fantasy? No. Has she only written MG or YA? NO. I say, write what you want.

Barbara Watson said...

That's a big thing. But I think we have to trust the stories that live in us.

M Pax said...

With one book out, they might not have any expectations, and writing different 'flavors' may bring readers to you that the other wouldn't.

I'm trying something new, too, and will continue to do so. I think that's what makes this journey fun.

I think if you keep doing the same thing [I loved Blades of Glory :)] would build expectations. So, maybe it's best to deviate early on so that's the 'expected'.

Lydia Kang said...

So glad you are selling well, but much of that is because of your writing, not your connections. Go Leigh! And I wouldn't worry about your readership. Rouge is different, but I think it's great you're showing breadth in your work!

Carolyn Abiad said...

I think you'll be fine! Branding is for cattle.

Unknown said...

Well, you know what I did. :) But I had a shelf of same genre books before I offered something completely different, so I feel I did the right thing by using a different name (though I add both names as contributing authors, so my readers find me even if they don't want to!)

However, if I only had one book before... I probably would just add the warning label up front.

Julie Musil said...

I think it's really cool that your books have totally different vibes to them. I'll bet all the books you read aren't classified as one genre or another, either. You're a well-rounded writer :)

Kelly Polark said...

I do think that some readers will expect a book like TTAF, but that doesn't mean they won't like book 2. They will like it in a different way. Good writing is good writing.
Good luck! I am looking forward to reading your next book and I feel fortunate I don't have to wait to long!

Talli Roland said...

That's a tough one. But I think writers are experimenting more and more now, and readers are going with the flow. The ability to sample before buying is also invaluable in helping readers decide what to buy.

Janet Johnson said...

So many great comments. I tend to read everything an author wrote once I find one I like, and sometimes I'm disappointed. But even if you do stick to one thing, there's no guarantee it will be loved. I think it comes down to good writing. Which you've got, girl!

So glad that TTAF is doing well! :D

PK HREZO said...

I don't think you should ever limit yourself. Right now as a new author, you're establishing your brand, but eventually readers will simply know your stories will be ones they can count on for quality entertainment.
Look at someone like Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt who started out as bubble gum pop idols then went in a much darker direction with their choice in roles. And it worked. As long as you're delivering good stories, I don't think it will hurt you that some are light and some not.
I guess time will tell!
Congrats that TTAF is doing well!!

Anonymous said...

Wait! I haven't had a chance to read your first one yet! ;p

Hmmm, it's hard to say--I write paranormal, dystopian for ya, now new adult and even middle grade...ugh, I bet I'll confuse someone somewhere.

I saw an editor claim (on Twitter) that it's not a good idea to publish various genres, but a lot of people do it.

There's no right answer.

Anonymous said...

I'd also like to add:

What Lydia said.

Unknown said...

Hmmm, this is a good question. And I'm afraid I haven't experienced this yet! So far I've only written in one genre - fantasy. But I do plan to write contemporary (and also Christian) fiction at some point. And I've also wondered how readers will feel about the different genres and voice. I guess the only thing you can do is go for it and see what happens. You may lose some readers from one book to the next, but you'll probably gain others who weren't into sweet YA, but are into edgy, mature YA.
I don't know if this is helping at all! Just my thoughts!

LTM said...

@Ciara--I know. That's what's got me nail-chewing. But at the same time, it's still ME. So like the feel should be similar... eeep! :D <3

@Carolyn--LOL!!! Oh, You! :D <3 ((hugs))

@Laura--I had to run back up and see what Lydia said. Aww! Thanks. And I hope y'all are right. I guess we're about to find out b/c it's too late for me to change it! :D <3

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I think that you can write more than one kind of story. What matters is that it is a story your readers can connect to. I'm looking forward to reading Rouge. I'm glad to hear your sales are going well.

walk2write said...

If you enjoyed writing it, then it has to be great. Or it's a story that wouldn't or shouldn't have been written. Simple as that:)

Vicki Rocho said...

Didn't read the comments so there's a good chance someone else already said what I want to -- and better, too.

I wouldn't worry so much about alienating your readership. As you said, it'll have your voice. If you were singing instead of writing, you'd have some upbeat tunes and some ballads, etc. It all works because of the strength of your voice. Same goes for your books. It's your ability to bring characters to life and craft a believable plot that satisfy.