Save my career!
At some point, every career needs some help. As writers, we’re held hostage to forces we can’t control. Buying limitations, genre fluctuations, editor changes, imprint changes, agent changes, writing speed, etc. So what do you do when your career needs a shot in the arm?
However we do have control over how we deal with changing market landscapes. For the most part, promotion is left up to authors. Yes, you may get some publisher support, but for the most part, we’re on our own.
The one thing I’ve learned is how important it is to embrace change. Often that’s the only way to hold on to your career. Easier said than done, though. Reinventing yourself has some pluses but it also has some drawbacks. The major plus is a clean slate. Let’s say you write humor and the market for humor has fallen on hard times. What to do? Well, you can try the self-pub route, but that comes with its own pitfalls. Like the expense of professional editing, cover creation, ISBN, formatting and uploading. Even if you self-publish electronically, that doesn’t change the truth that the humor market has taken a nosedive.
The other option is to make a change in your content. Again, this has pluses and minuses. The major plus is you might find that you have a talent for writing for a stronger market. The major minus is you may have to adopt a pseudonym. Someone buying a Rhonda Pollero book will expect humor but if I write something dark and gory, those same readers may be put off. Of course changing names has some other downsides – you often lose your reader base and have to start from scratch. In the end though, by reinventing yourself, you’re breathing new life into your career.
So how do you approach change? Most importantly, you have to know your strengths and weaknesses. You can’t jump on a trend and expect that to suddenly reinvigorate your career. Trends come and go quickly, so what’s on the shelves now was bought twelve to twenty-four months ago. Check publishersmarketplace.com to see what’s hot right now. But it’s harder than that. You need to make sure you have the skill set to make a jump from one type of book to another. I know I can’t write angst. I just don’t have it in me. However I can write a dark serial killer. So instead of trying (and failing) at writing something that may be saleable and angsty, I have to go dark. That’s where my skill set leads me. Will I lose readers who like my Finley Tanner series? Absolutely. But hopefully I’ll pick up new readers who prefer something on the gory side. Above all, I’ll know that I’ve done everything I can to keep my career alive. Even if it means tackling a new genre.
Happy writing . . .
PS – Happy 30th anniversary to my hubby!