Spreading wings is scary but worth it.

I started out writing Young Adult titles, I think because they were the stories that had the most insistent characters shouting to be heard in my head.  I guess that makes sense because kids do tend to be louder than adults.  But after writing about 18 novels all but 2 with teens as the main characters, I decided it was time to spread my wings a little.

This decision coincided with the desire to see my name in lights.  Well, not lights, but the same kind of effect.  A few of my writer buddies were hitting the USA Today and NY Times Best Seller lists, and I was jelly.  Yes.  I was totally jealous.  Their reach was so much bigger than mine, and if there's something I've learned as an independent writer it's that without good reader support, an author cannot make a living at this business.  We need lots of readers.

It seemed to make sense to write for a large group of readers once in a while so I could expand my reach.  Romance is the hottest market and has been since the beginning of time (or a really long time, longer than I've been alive, and I'm old.)  I knew that to get on one of these lists, to find this many readers, I'd have a better chance in the romance genre than I would in YA urban fantasy.

I told the younger characters living in my head to shush a little so I could listen for other voices, and lo and behold, found several adults in there just waiting to be heard.  The themes they're living with and talking about are different, but their feelings, their emotions, and their desires are mostly the same.  I was overjoyed to know I had “people” like that living in my head.

I worried, though, that I wouldn't be able to write a romance.  Even though I've read hundreds of them as an avid fan of the genre, I'm an action-oriented writer, so the idea of scene after scene of just dialogue and confusion about feelings didn't turn me on.  It frightened me, actually.  I didn't think I could do it.  But I opened up my computer and let the voices speak anyway.

Andie Marks was the first to assert herself, so her story was told first.  She and Mack were very clear for me, and so was Mack's brother Ian, although he's just a side character in Shine Not Burn.  I wrote the story over 3 weeks, and hoped like hell it would be well-received.  The words flew onto the computer page, and while I had to edit more than usual, it was a mostly painless process.

Turns out, I needn't have panicked.  I did a little promotion on Facebook and then sat back while the book went from a ranking of 12,000 to 148 in 3 days, selling almost 2,000 copies.  That's as close as I got to the Top 100, but it was a thrilling ride.  At the time of writing this post I'm back in the 300s, but that doesn't mean it's over for this book in the Top 100.  The 4th of July interfered in the reading world and the weather has been great in lots of places, so readers are busy right now.  Last year July was terrible for sales for me, but this month it will be better, just because of this book.  I won't make it onto a best seller list with this story right now, but I'm not going to count myself out of the running just yet.  The reviews are amazingly positive and it seems like the book has struck a chord with romance readers.

The point I'm making (trying to make) is that as a writer, I need to spread my wings and try new things.  Challenge myself.  Open myself up to new readers who have valuable input for me.  The result will only be that I get better, and if I can find a bunch of new readers in the process, it's stupid not to try.  If you're a writer and you're looking for a little spark, or you see other writers doing something that excites you, spread your wings!  Wayne Gretzky (in hockey “The Great One”) once said: “You'll miss 100% of the shots you never take.”  I love that motto.

6 comments on “Spreading wings is scary but worth it.

  1. Dearest Elle-

    While I was (and still am, eventually) looking forward to the YA book lineup you had/have planned out, I am absolutely loving this new direction you’ve taken. It is fun to get lost in the world of teenagers sometimes, but realistically I am 29 years old, and after finishing Shine Not Burn I felt deeply satisfied with the entire reading experience. The teenage shenanigans in the YA books are hilarious and fun to read about, but I felt that I could much more easily understand and relate to the feelings and emotions of Andie from an adult perspective. Keep up the amazing work and fly (or write, rather) wherever the wind blows you!

    • I’m really glad you took a shine to my latest book (ha ha, aren’t I clever). Really, it felt like a big risk, but I’m so glad it paid off. xoxo Elle

  2. If you could publish an adult romance every 3 weeks I’d be a very happy girl! I’m at 80% of Shine Not Burn and my kindle battery has died, I’m going mad waiting to finish it, then I can go and find myself a cowboy…they’re in short supply in the UK

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *