Don't Fence Me In
There is a lot of advice out there for aspiring writers. Some of it is even free. Nearly all of it is conflicting, but one bit seems to hold: write what you know.
It should be obvious to anyone who read my books that I followed this advice. It should be obvious to anyone who read my books that I didn't follow this advice.
I'm pretentious like that. See, what I did was pull from my vast and varied personal experiences to set a realistic enough backdrop that you gloss over the made up pseudoscience that I pulled out of my butt. Write what you know is actually sound advice, but if we stuck to it all the time, where would the fantastic elements come from? Write what you know, but make up stuff if it sounds cool.
But this isn't a post about the first rule of successful writing. This is about the second: Find your niche. The time for branching out is after you've made it.
This too makes sense. Successful writers are genre writers. Stephen King wrote something like seven hundred billion horror stories before trying his hand at fantasy. But on the other hand, J K Rowling's success didn't translate into critical success when she immediately jumped from children's fantasy to adult literary fiction.
There are many others, of course, but I use these two as examples a lot because they are well-known heros to all of us who want to be billionaires...
...writers. I meant writers.
Clearly, King's method is the one us thousandaires want to follow. Since I have a modestly successful new adult urban fantasy series under my belt, shouldn't my next project be in the same genre? Maybe just replace Lucy with a feisty blonde who happens to be the daughter of a human and angel (by the way, this is totally a paranormal trend at the moment that can be surprisingly great and awful in different writer's hands). Or maybe she's a Hawaiian girl whose mother was an elemental? Instant success because I already have a built in fanbase, right?
I think you've read enough of this blog to know where this is going.
I admire Rowling's tenacity. Had she announced that her next series was a seven part prequel to the Harry Potter series, she would be the largest economy in the world right now. But she didn't and I can't blame her. I'm willing to bet Harry emotionally exhausted her. Heck, I only wrote three books that were only as long as her first two and Lucy left me a damned wreck.
I am not a billionaire. I am not even a thousandaire yet. I should hold on to the dozens of fans I have acquired by giving them more of the same only different.
But I can't.
My brain doesn't work that way. My next book is a young adult science fiction. After that I have a zombie apocalypse story, a humorous series about supernatural guardians, a young adult fantasy about an inept fairy godmother, a contemporary romance, a paranormal teen romance, and a space opera that is inspired more by William Burroughs and Hunter S Thompson than Star Trek. And I might just update our cookbook just to see how well it is received.
I will never be famous. But if I can make it to thousandaire, I'll call it a success. Will you keep reading? Maybe, maybe not. I don't actually think I'm important enough that my readers will become outraged. At least I hope. But I didn't get into writing because I wanted to be famous.
No really, but I'll take rich. Sort of rich, even...
I got into writing because it's what I know.