I am Supposed to Write in the Same Genre. . .What?
One of the biggest pieces of marketing advice out there is build a platform, grow an audience and write in the same genre. Sure, people with several books, such as romance, will sometimes get a pen name and switch to romantic suspense or something similar. But generally, good, little authors write a young adult fantasy, and then they write a sequel or at least another young adult fantasy. It’s very smart.
But I did not do this.
Hopefully, there’s at least one other author out there besides me who likes to struggle through marketing and building an audience. If you are nodding your head, then please find me on Facebook, and let’s start our own private Facebook group, where we can complain and whine together.
Before I had any idea what I was doing and before the explosion of the e-book and self-publishing world, way back in 2000, I took a correspondence course where lessons were actually snail-mailed to me, and I wrote Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength in Vicksburg. This is the novel I always wanted to write for kids in upper elementary grades to read at school and home. It took three-plus years to write because I taught full time and had no idea what I was doing. Then it took three more years to revise it and figure out what to do with it. We are up to 2006 now, and it was still in the dark ages considering where self-publishing and e-books are today.
This book was freaking hard to write. Historical fiction is the most difficult thing I’ve ever tackled, and I thought the whole experience might kill me. (Especially when I signed my contract, did my revisions, and then my publishing company almost went out of business. . .) But alas finally, in 2012, I held my book in my little hands and had a party.
But what happened between 2006 and 2012? I wrote other books, of course, but I vowed to never ever write another historical fiction for kids. The whole experience, as I mentioned, almost killed me. So, I wrote a few picture books and a contemporary YA, and I started to pursue publication with a couple of these manuscripts. Lo and behold—I was offered two contracts—one on the contemporary YA and one on a cute, humorous picture book.
Do you see where this is going?
Now in 2015, I have a contemporary young adult novel, Caught Between Two Curses; a picture book, Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire: The Case of the Missing Cookies; and a middle-grade historical fiction novel, Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg. I know what you are thinking: Margo, you have no platform or consistency.
I KNOW! But luckily, I have great writing friends who did things correctly, such as my publisher and recent guest on this blog, Robin Tidwell. One day she said, “Just try to look at what all your books have in common. They all have girls as the main character.”
She was really trying to help me! But yes, I went with it. They do all have girls as the main characters, and in each one, the girls are smart and funny, kind and bull-headed. Then, one day, in the comfort of my living room, I came up with this tagline to try and pull all this together:
Be Unique. Be Strong. Be Yourself.
Not only does it encompass my books, but it also says a lot about me and my personality.
The lesson here for me? I have to work with what I have. I’m proud of my books. I love talking to kids and teens, and because I have such a wide range of audiences, I am more versatile when it comes to speaking—there’s probably something I have for any age of kid or grandkid you have.
Now I have to figure out what to write next. . .I’m thinking a western.