by Anne Marie Becker
True confession time. On a weekly (sometimes daily) basis, I toy with the idea of diverging from writing romantic suspense to straight-up contemporary romance. Yes, these would be stories without stalkers, dead bodies, or law enforcement officers. Without imminent danger, destruction of property, or the evil machinations of chilling villains. (I heard that collective gasp.)
However, I recognize that, at least in part, these thoughts are my brain’s desire to run away from home, a way of creating distraction when I’m tired of the story I’m working on. Whether I’m in the throes of editing or trying to dig myself out of the sagging middle of my story, the grass looks greener over there, where writers don’t have to research deadly weapons or nuances of the law to make their stories work. While part of this desire for change may stem from a need to try new things, I realize the pros and cons of making such a decision.
Writing is a business—a challenging business where a sea of authors are attempting to keep their heads above water while thrusting their books above the waves, hoping they’ll be noticed. In such an environment, being untrue to your author brand can be deadly. To build your audience, it’s important to know who you are as a writer, and what your readers have come to expect from your work. After all, a book is a contract between you and your reader, promising a satisfying story.
Recently, on one of the writer loops, an interesting link came across my inbox. This article from Forbes seems to prove that building a brand leads to success, especially if that brand is tied to a series. It seems to be working for Lee Child, anyway.
I released my first Mindhunters book nearly three years ago (*waves to debut class of 2011*). Now, as I near the end of my six-book Mindhunters series and look forward to starting a new series, I fight the distractions and remind myself of who I am. I am a romantic suspense author. I write thrilling psychological twists and chilling villains. In the new series I’m about to start, I’m going to be digging up dead bodies and hunting killers again. Because I actually do it pretty well, and because my readers expect it of me.
Who are you as a writer? What kind of brand are you building, and how are you working toward solidifying your place in readers’ hearts? As a reader, do you have a favorite series or author who has earned your loyalty?
Dark Deeds (Mindhunters, Book 4):
Walking away from sexy Detective Diego Sandoval was one of the toughest things security specialist Becca Haney ever had to do. But her past is a direct threat to his future, to the career he’s working so hard to rebuild. When he’s assigned to help keep her safe from a human trafficking ring, he’s determined to stay by her side and learn about the woman behind the passion—scars and all. But Becca has another admirer. Known only as “the Fan,” he believes he’s the perfect partner for her—and he’ll kill to prove it. When the stakes are raised in the killer’s deadly game, Diego will be called upon to save lives—including Becca’s.