My books, unlike the Raggedys, are not just alike. Every book is different. I’m not a genre writer. When it comes to literature I have trouble coloring inside the lines and staying true to any genre. I write whatever interests and excites me.
I also don’t read any particular genre. I didn’t grow up with “genre.” I read everything and anything that looked good to me. Parents didn’t need to be so wary then. The Bobseys didn’t do anything scandalous, and there wasn’t much terror in Nancy Drew. I still read Wind in the Willows in high school, for goodness sake!
My husband on the other hand, when finishing a book he enjoyed, looks up the author and orders three or more of their other books, hoping they’ll be “like this one.” His bookshelf and kindle shelf are organized and predictable. Mine look like tossed salad.
The thing about not writing genre is the added difficulty with marketing. Genre writers can let each book ................
Each of my books has to have a different marketing approach, and different audience. Of course, that also means they have different publishers. Sometimes they overlap, mostly they don’t, and sometimes they can’t. For instance, if I’m selling dog books at a dog show, I can’t sell anything other than dog books. My contracts at reenactments limit me to selling only Civil War books. If one publisher had all my books, they would all be in their catalog, sharing the advertising expense, and getting the attention of the bookstores. Having different audiences is also limiting. If I’m at an elementary school, I won’t be selling Cracks in the Ice. When I go into a book store that carries my books, I will find them in Pets, YA, Cultural, Christian, Teen…they are all over the place. This isn't helpful! It puts a whole new twist on the publishers’ term “stand alone.”
I’ve got three new books coming out this first quarter. Beth’s Birds is the first of a series of backyard nature for preschool through first grade. This is an entirely new audience for me, which means I’m a new author to that audience. Rock and a Hard Place, A Lithuanian Love Story, is cross genre and cross audience, which drives publishers crazy. Amanda and the Lazy Garden Fairy is a picture book for first through third grade. It’s another new audience, and picture book is a new genre for me.
I understand clearly why publishers want their authors to have a brand. It makes sense from a marketing point of view. But for some of us, branding is boring. Unlike the embroidered heart branded on my Raggedys, I prefer to embed each of my books with its own spirit. But, I've learned, it does make selling books more challenging.