Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

Branding Vs. Bite Me, I Write What I Want

TODAY’S BREW: A lot.

By Julie

Edits on RUNNING AWAY will be finished by March first, and while my beta readers dig in, I move on to the next project.

And with that, comes the initial worry of, “Well, shit. My readers aren’t ready for this.”

RUNNING AWAY feels very cohesive in character to RUNNING HOME to me, as well it should. The few people who have read THE HARPY, which is currently on submission to publishers, got an eyeful of Charity Blake, who, shall we say, has quite a bit more edge than Ellie Morgan. Charity would as soon give you the finger as make out with you in public.

March’s project is final edits on a book that I’ve let sit for a while, waiting for me. And it’s as different from THE HARPY as that book is from RUNNING HOME. There has been an excerpt or two on Deadly Ever After of THE ANIMAL, and it’s certainly not going to be for everyone. Erotic, aggressive, and in some parts probably offensive, it very well may not appeal to the same readers as RUNNING HOME. I have to wonder if I’m broadening my horizons or upsetting my readers by giving them Trent and Min, and all the debauchery the two are capable of.

The best part? Today’s plan is plotting my newest book, and man alive have I struggled with whether or not I should write this. Because naturally, the progression from Japanese vampires to a bitter, vengeful, punk Harpy, to an obsessive compulsive man possessed by a defiled sex god is straight to young adult. Naturally.

Yeah, that’s right. The adventures of an Egyptian sex god and the beginning of a young adult novel, all in the same month. Right after that, I might be making INSCRIPTION, my short horror story series that never seems to go away into a full length novel. And THAT features a teenage boy. So YA horror.

My mantra is to write the book you have to write. Don’t listen to what the trends are, don’t worry about what the Joneses are writing. Write the book that itches at your soul like a wound that won’t quite heal, and there will be an audience for it. Anything that ignites that much passion in you is going bleed onto the page, and that kind of power gets heard. I firmly believe it.

But then you’ve got the other side of life, which is branding. Am I making myself unpredictable? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Am I right in relying on my voice and unique style to carry me through these wild ideas I have and make them have mass appeal based on that alone? Am I right in thinking that if the author connects with readers now more than ever, then my readers will expect me to write something unexpected, wild, often brash and always strong? Is it me selling the story, or the story running off without me?

What are your thoughts on sticking to the straight and narrow as opposed to giving all your work the attention you think it deserves? HELP ME, PEOPLE, I’M DYING.

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Branding Vs. Bite Me, I Write What I Want

  1. I have even less of a brand than you but I worry about this, too. But I lean more towards the “screw it, write what you want”camp. I don’t know if I’m right! But here’s what I think:
    1. Writing for different audiences keeps you flexible and empowers you to try different things.
    2. Audiences can choose to follow you or not, it doesn’t matter. I grew up reading Judy Blume’s “Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing” and “SuperFudge” and was dumbfounded to learn she’d also written a book like “Wifey.”
    3. If the audiences DO follow you, so much the better — maybe your true niche is writing for a diverse, daring readership.
    So — I think there are enough limitations imposed on a writer, without the writer imposing them on him- or herself out of fear. SCREW THE FEAR!

  2. Now admittedly, I have no “brand” to worry about — but I don’t think you should worry about that. Like you say, I think you have to write the story you’re just itching to write. Because if you don’t? If you write something you’re not super in to, but fits your “brand”? THAT will show. Readers will be able to tell your heart wasn’t truly in it.

    I often think a writer’s biggest “brand” is her voice, anyway — and that is bound to shine through no matter what story you’re writing.

    • What Laura said. That authenticity & voice combo — that is huge, and if you are somehow going through the motions to live up to what you think your readers want, I think you’re doing everyone a disservice.

  3. There’s more Inscription and I haven’t seen it? You’ve been holding out on me? Why have you forsaken me? *weeps in the corner*

    Seriously, I’m with you. Write the stories you need to tell. I have this problem to some extent myself. Most of my stories are Fantasy, but the stripes keep changing, and then there’s my vampire trilogy. And the contemporary that itches sometimes. And a hundred other things. But if I don’t write what I need to, the whole thing seems to fall apart on me, which is bad.

    I too worry about what I’m doing with my brand long term, but the brand won’t mean much if I can’t write or I force it, because that so often shows in the quality of the story. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. 😉

  4. I love that you posted this on #MSWL day. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s manuscript wish list day. Agents and editors post on twitter what they want to see. Now, I think that’s supposed to be used if you already have that particular MS, you’ll know who to pitch it to. For that, it’s an awesome tool. But I always worry that people who are desperate to hear a YES are going to sit down and try to write what their dream agent is looking for.

    No. Don’t do this. Your dream agent is the person who gets you, not the one that you try to impress by doing you wouldn’t normally do. It’s going to be obvious in the writing.

    I’m with you, Julie. I have a YA contemporary lead in to a NA PNR series. There are more vampire novels that need to be written in that world. I’m working on an NA contemporary right now. I have another of those that I have a lot of ideas about. And an erotic serial is vying for my attention right now.

    Kristen

  5. Omg love, I completely believe you need to be you! If you have stories that bleed into the paper *those* are the stories you must write and fuck what everyone else thinks of as branding. Branding is just another word. Your strength will be in your own personal self giving soul and power to your fictional creations and because of you they will stand proud and yes they will find an audience. Be wild. Be unpredictable. Grab every corner of every genre and tear it to shreds. White bread is over rated. Do what’s in your soul!

  6. I’m currently reading a book from Erika Napoletano called The Power of Unpopular. Her premise is that you should be true to who you are, and in doing so, you will find a more committed and passionate audience – the audience that best suites you. I tend to agree with this (but then again, I’ve got a violent and very sexual urban fantasy and a YA fantasy cooking right now so I might be biased).

    That said, there may be implications to this. You may lose those in your fan base who’ve come to expect something specific from you (think about all the parents wanting to return their Miley Cyrus concert tickets they bought for their 13 year old daughters). You may lose readers who like more predictability from an author. But in the end, if ‘You’ is someone who writes a wide variety of tales, does it matter over-much if you lose these folks? You have to decide if it’s worth it or not.

    Best,

    Kristy

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