Quick survey: What kind of reader are you?
There are two interesting schools of thought out there today, when it comes to how people read. On the one hand, the old school (Traditional Publishing) demands that a writer must be closely pigeon-holed into a very specific genre category. The corollary is that if you write something “different” from that category, ever, you must do so under a new pen name. Many of the more established writers I know (being folks who have been successfully traditionally published decades ago, and possibly still today) have gone through this inanity.
It gets more interesting, decades later, when they get their rights to a book back, and want to republish it as themselves, rather than as who New York demanded they be back then. Now they have to identify themselves in such a way that readers who remember them from before can find them, while letting them know that the person they think of is really just a facet of a much more complicated writer. Kris and Dean are both veterans of these psychic wars.
At the other end of the spectrum are folks like me. We’re proudly indie. I write it, edit it, and publish it, without sending it off to an agent or submitting it to a publishing house for consideration. (It helps that I married my Publisher, Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm). YMMV)
Nobody gets to tell me if something is good enough to see daylight. There are no trunk stories waiting for me to get around to. (Not counting all the poetry I wrote 1984-2004, of which, lots, but I’m getting to it over time.) And I don’t have to publish things under pseudonyms.
(And we’ll leave aside, for now, the rampant sexism that says that girls are too icky to write hard science fiction. I’ll let Judith tear your limbs off and beat you to death for suggesting that to her. She’d probably enjoy that bit.)
Will you, the reader, be willing to wander down every strange and exotic pathway my twisted and elusive muse takes me?
She can be Br’er Rabbit, some days.
It’s on my mind because I’m getting down the last bits of a new novel. Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) tries to write every one of her novels with a “practice” to it. She might be working on wallpaper, or senses, or nailing every chapter with a cliff-hanger. Something new to expand her repertoire.
For those of you keeping score at home, I wrote Auberon, Queen of the Pirates, and Last of the Immortals functionally back to back to back. (With Story Road tucked in there for good measure, but related and associated.) This current project is something totally else, at least for me.
First off, it is slow. This novel is very much a coming of age, and literary. Single POV, when I just did eleven for Immortals. Everything takes place in the perception of the main character, and she’s a bit unreliable as a narrator. (Hint, possibly crazy, hard to tell.) She’s setting out to get revenge on the man who killed her best friend. Problem is, however, her friend was a costumed super-villain and the guy who killed her was a hero.
The novel is fun, and deep, and goes into strange places.
It is not gunfights and car chases. It is not a 40,000 word space battle (unlike the last section of Immortals, for example.) It is not a wild, seat of your pants ride, like some of my fans have enjoyed with the Jessica Keller novels.
I will tell you that it is the first of a trilogy arc I will have done by this time next year, Good Lord willing and creek don’t rise. If I was Traditionally Published, there is no question I would have to put it out under a pen name. I actually set out to create half a dozen when I started, because that was what everyone had to do.
Dean, however, assures me (us) that modern readers are sophisticated enough to realize that if they like a writer, they will probably like all the strange stuff, as long as they know what they’re getting into up front. That means good covers that convey the right genre. It means good, tight blurbs that entice you in. A teaser just inside the cover that communicates the essence of the Voice of the tale, rather than the spoilers or the cliff-hanger. An opening that grabs you by the lapels and sucks you right down the rabbit hole.
You know, the usual suspects.
Which means that we, as writers, no longer have to be other people.
The conversations lately have been thus: Once I finish it and send it off to the first readers (all female for specific reasons, this time) will they rate it as Publish in order, or save until all three are done and drop them back to back to back? (I will be going back to Jessica Keller IV: Goddess of War as soon as this project goes to First Readers, so don’t worry about not having your Moirrey fix.)
I won’t know until they tell me what I should do. And I’ll listen to them because this is so different from I’ve written. The closest thing might be The Story Road, but with far fewer “adult situations” as my main character describes herself as “20 and never been kissed” more than once. The sort of slow, emotional build-up. That sort of depth to the universe and details that normally pass in the background.
So: your vote. Would you like to read something totally different from Jessica soon, or later when all three are ready?
West of the Mountains, WA