I’ve read tons of talk about “branding.” How it’s important to present a unified face to the publishing world. From the tone of your query letter to the contents of your blog, you’ve got to sell yourself. Have a platform. Find your niche. Make it work.
That’s a problem for one of my heroines, Kelly King (for those of you not familiar with the premise of Third-Rate Romance—although I’ve been hitting you on the head with it, blog after blog— click on the link. Read the first two chapters, maybe laugh, then come back.). Kelly is a writer dabbling with Regency, inspirational western, chick-lit and vampire romances. Schizo, anyone? And probably doomed. Unless you’re Kasey Michaels or writing under a couple of pseudonyms, it’s hard to switch genres with impunity. You’re supposed to stick with one and get it done.
Kelly and I have quite a bit in common. Here’s a quiz for you all. There will be no prize for the correct answer. See if you can determine which of the following novels and novellas are secreted away in my files. Notice they’re all one-sentence distillations of the plot, but absolutely none of them are pitch-worthy.
1. Aspiring author writes trash, hits it big (c’mon, that’s a gimme).
2. T-shirt shop owner finds dead body, love.
3. Baronet must marry before midnight; gets drunk and lucky.
4. Viscount hires disgraced beauty and her niece for instant family to con his old aunt into making him her heir.
5. An uptight baron must heal the effects of BDSM, quasi-incest, and prostitution on the heroine.
6. Undercover spy with peculiar tattoo on his privates woos doctor’s daughter.
7. Scottish museum directress finds hidden treasure on impoverished laird’s property.
8. Tortured artist finds love with chubby teenager.
9. Teacher teaches her pupil’s father how to love.
10. Girl throws over fiancé for his wounded, drug-addicted uncle.
11. Snotty deb gets de-snotted by childhood friend.
12. Amnesiac Scottish bluestocking winds up in brothel and sold to soldier.
13. Shape-shifting hotel owner falls for shape-shifting guest.
14. Eternally young woman seeks love, eventual death.
15. Librarian loosens up with psychic time-traveler.
Laughing now? Yes, I have written them all. And there are even more, God help me. It’s no surprise that my companion blog, Begin As You Mean To Go On, is subtitled “Prologues and First Chapters from a Genre-Confused Writer.” What’s your favorite plot above? I’m thinking #6 is going to be the fave.