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Learn Something New Everyday

I’ve been sitting on this post for a few weeks. So forgive any shifts in my tense or what have you.

“You learn something new every day.” That’s what the infamous group “they” say. There’s another saying, “Some lessons are learned the hard way.” This has definitely been the case for me over the past couple of months.

I should’ve taken more time to consider my approach to ‘expanding’ my audience. I really should have, and the worst part of it is that my years in television ratings analysis prepared me for this. This is, if I would have thought harder about my approach anyway. Take Shonda Rhimes as an example. She’s brilliant. No two ways about it (and she has excellent musical taste!!). But, when she hit it big with Grey’s Anatomy, she didn’t immediately move to writing Scandal. No, she launched Private Practice.  Hospital drama found in Grey’s…moves to the drama behind a general practice. Only after that did she launch Scandal. Okay, truth be told, there’s a whole lot more to it than just what Shonda wants to put on ABC. Getting a prime time show picked up takes time, and just as much if not more patience than finding a literary agent & getting a book sold. Regardless, had the powers that be at ABC launched Scandal on the heels of Grey’s Anatomy, it might not have been as successful. Do not get me wrong…it would have been a success, but it would have been such a turn from Grey’s Anatomy that I’m not sure the audience carry-over would have been as strong. And believe me, there was definite audience carry over from Grey’s to Scandal. That’s a big deal in TV land…the ability of any given show to retain the lead-in audience. That’s the lesson for me moving within the book world, though. It’s tricky to expand one’s audience base without alienating the people who love you for your first series.

There are romance readers out there who simply won’t read Motorcycle club romances. Their reasons are their own and those reasons are perfectly legitimate. Examples of reasons why some readers won’t read MC include, but are not limited to: the men are vigilantes, there’s crime, the women aren’t treated right, etc. Some readers won’t read MC because of the inherent Alpha male heroes. That’s not a criticism and definitely no judgement. We love what we love, and it makes us who we are. I’m the very same way, except I typically won’t read paranormal romance. I have to be in a definite mood to read paranormal. Though, my eyes were opened to a dragon shifter romance back in January…so, who knows, maybe I’ll dig paranormal at some point after all!

My point here is that as a writer, I don’t want to only write MC. I don’t want to only write alpha males. I haven’t met too many blatantly alpha men in real life. [Truth be told, the obvious alphas I have met tend to rub me the wrong way, and it’s likely why my heroines rail against the pushy alpha the way in which they do.] That’s why I wanted to step out of that mold and write a Beta hero. Further, it is not to say that anyone is strictly one thing. Which is the interesting aspect about James in Beta Test, he’s supposed to be 100% laid back, but he is rather alpha and bossy in the bedroom. He isn’t just one thing, much like real people aren’t simply easy-going or what have you.

So, the lesson I’ve learned (the hard way), is that pushing Beta Test as hard as I did at my existing readers, might not have been the best move. Riot MC readers probably won’t like the Beta series, and vice versa! In so many ways, that was kind of the point of Beta Test but I forgot the pitfall of marketing it to my existing reader base. Trying to grow my audience with books outside a single series is going to take just as much time as gaining a following for my first series.

I also learned a lesson that I thought I had down pat. At a FCRW meeting last year, another author mentioned giving a book away for free is a guaranteed way to increase your 1-star reviews. The rationale is that people do not appreciate what they do not pay for. She was talking about getting a Book Bub feature where the book is a freebie, but it is true of other giveaways as well. This is not to say that I’m going to go all Scrooge and not do any giveaways, but I will definitely approach it differently in the future.

Unrelated, but FYI:  Soon! Very soon, I will have a pre-order link for Calming the Riot available. I’m putting final tweaks on the manuscript this week, and will submit it to my editor once that’s done. To say I’m excited is a vast understatement. But that’s not the focus of today’s post.