Let’s have an argument. Authors and publishers have this argument with far more frequency than you might imagine. The question at issue: What do I do next?
You have just completed your (first, third, fourteenth) book. The debut parties are over. The book signings are done. The everyday marketing has begun to drag. The Muse has kicked you in the keister a few times. She wants to know if you are going to spend the rest of your life on Twitter.
What are you going to do? If your answer is write something else, before you head off to commune with the laptop, let’s assess a few opinions and facts.
If your book is a runaway hit, you have fans clamoring for your next book. The two main classes of fans are groupies and serialists. Groupies are going to read whatever you write, even if it is a collection of notes you passed in the eighth grade. Serialists are pickier.
These are the genre-junkies who want more of the same, just a little better than last time, with enough wiggle room for the possibility to demand more of the same, just a little better than last time.
Publishers (Hard Place)
Industry professionals are a bit more wary than fans. They are keen on the concept of market saturation and know the impact of flooding the market with product before the audience has exhausted the supply. (See bean counter version of supply and demand.) Do not be shocked when the answer to your nearly finished WIP is Not at this time.
Your runaway hit was a stray in your WIP folder you only submitted because your opus has a filing cabinet full of rejection letters. You may have even come to the place where you like your hit, but your heart is sunken deeply in love with something which belongs to another genre. When you sit down to cipher, you are banking on riding the wave of demand to grab your buyers with wallets still opened to sell your real manuscript.
Wall (Bet you weren’t counting on this.)
Readers are both loyal and fickle. The irony is palpable. Some anonymous person once said, Readers only like what they like. In a not-quite-as-circular-as-you-might-think way, it is true. Readers like:
- to be entertained by their chosen genre.
- to be driven rabid by a new love.
- to have satiation for voracious appetites.
Genre-junkies want authors to deliver something novel, well-constructed and complete. For the first time reader of any genre, once in love with it, hundreds of books will be insufficient. Despite you tying up the loose ends before the cover went on the book, readers love the idea there could be more to the story.
What you do not see on the list is a favorite author bullet. The reason is: The title is passed from author to author based on consistent delivery of satisfying books, or the lack thereof. The question is now: Can you deliver books consistently?
But I wanna…
Do not whine. It is unbecoming. If you have your heart set on jumping genre and writing something different, be prepared to go back to start. (Do not collect $200.) You may collect a little from your groupies, but you will not be tapping the same vein you did with your last book.
If you are prepared to begin from scratch, pack your parachute and jump. If not, weigh your options carefully.
The Sequel (or Prequel)
How you ended the last book is pivotal to whether a subsequent book with the same characters is a possibility or going to be the camel you try to force through the eye of a needle. For the record, it matters not if it is a dromedary or bactrian.
If there is an opening for a continuation of your story, a sequel is not hard to write. A good sequel is hard to write. Consider how many hits you have seen where the second (third through seventh) was a dismal shell of the first or a lopsided attempt at a cookie cutter repeat. The successful ones were integral, as in built of parts which could have been added to the original if printing a 1,250+ page book was cost effective.
The ones which fail are the ones which try to recapture the excitement of the first book by either rewriting the first installment or by using the portions which were not up to par in the first pass.
Every day authors jump genre. Even very well known authors do it; albeit, many choose a pen name for other genres. Despite large reputations, the sales of books out of the mold which readers previously accepted are different. In some cases, it is just what the author needed to grab more market share. In more cases, it is nothing more than starting at an entry level position in a new genre.
Before you decide, weigh the market carefully. Assess all of the steps you took with your last book. Where is there room for improvement?
- Writing? Take an extra few betas.
- Launch? Do more pre-release reader cultivation.
- Follow through? Try to reach a higher sales plateau.
When you release a new book, you are at the beginning. Take all the necessary steps to producing a quality book. Every single one of us can recognize a chance to improve in our books. Be certain to take enough time between releases to make your next book your best book… yet.
What is the first thing you will do differently with your next book? How do you feel about prequels and sequels? Which author have you read and wondered why they jumped genre?
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