Moving Right Along

Study this image. How does it make you feel? Does it affect your mood? There will be a test question at the end.

Study this image. There will be a test question at the end.

 

If you didn’t notice, I’ve altered my tag-line. It’s always been a bit smug…after all, I’m no genius. I explained all that on my About page. My husband suggested mybrandofgenius and it sort of stuck. I’m not ready to let that go. It reminds me to laugh at myself.

The added tag-line speaks to the two sorts of writing, 1950’s-60s historic literary fiction, and riveting contemporary crime romps, I’m vested in. I’ve spent a great deal of time promoting Red Clay and Roses on this blog and have connected with some fabulous people in the process. My intention really wasn’t to promote my book when I first got started, (I wanted a place to socialize and talk about writing) but I was told that was what I was supposed to be doing.

Tons of people showed up to teach me how. I watched you and listened and learned. I traveled around the blogosphere and got to know you. I need for you to know you mean the world to me. When I first became disabled, I had no clue how I was going to spend my time. A workaholic nurse used to racing around on my feet eight to sixteen hours a day, I found myself at a loss. Bewildered and lonely.

The characters that developed in my head and my memories were my only comfort. And then, you came along and brighten my path. Since then, I’ve gained three grandchildren, and those quiet times became something I have to defend. But still, I have plenty.

For the last four months, I’ve been back and forth with my editor getting things done. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished and feel I can present the work with confidence at Sleuth Fest. I’ve completed a three page long synopsis and a one page short synopsis, a cover letter, a tag-line for the book, a log-line, a blurb, and a perfect pitch. (Thank you Carrie and Sue, for allowing me to pick your brains.)

Since writing Naked Alliances, it’s always troubled me how I would market the book without abandoning Red Clay and Roses, as they are two completely different genres and styles. After much research with branding, I realized I don’t have to abandon anything at all. I began to look at the common features of the books and what motivated me to write both of them. I also examined those attributes of myself that I’ve learned from you by reading through the comments you’ve left me…that I am compassionate, candid, and honest…and sometimes funny.

In Red Clay and Roses, we have a book that includes rape, racism, illegal abortion and murder. In Naked Alliances, we have child abuse, murder, and sex-trafficking. I thought about how my work as a nurse influenced the writing in either book. RC&R with direct references, and NA with indirect. As a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner in an active ER, I was unfortunately exposed to a number of situations that did influence the writing of NA.  Out of respect, and due to HIPAA laws, I’ve been very careful not to put anything on this blog that might reference any particular incident in such a way as to identify people involved. My work in forensic psychiatry also contributed to the writing of NA in a more indirect manner having to do with the character development of the antagonist and the psychology of the killer.

The tone of RC&R is dark and serious. The tone of NA is lighter and somewhat amusing. That was intentional. Crime, while often dark and serious, allows for different approach. Here, we have a most responsible, loner P.I. who is forced to, by circumstance, work with a brassy, and irresponsible transgendered sidekick. To protect a young girl from an evil vixen, they must hide in a nudist resort while the body count rises. There are two protagonists, an unlikely pairing in an unpredictable setting, which makes for entertaining reading. It’s a riveting crime romp through Central Florida. A rather motley crew of characters that speak to the diversity we have in this neck of the woods.

While the crimes are serious, the tone of the book really isn’t all that serious. Herein lies my marketing dilemma. How do I promote both books across one set of platforms? Setting up platforms for each book is not an option for me. I’ve come up with some ideas I’ll be testing out in the near future, so you’ll likely see some gradual changes on FB, Twitter, and this blog.

All I ask is that you remember I am compassionate, candid, honest…and sometimes funny, or at least try to be. Sometimes that’s hard without being rude. I’ll try not to be too rude.

Day before yesterday, I pulled my car over to a bus stop in a torrential downpour and gave a guy my umbrella if that helps.

Is there something you’d like to hear more about?

Any ideas on promoting books of different tone and/or genre?

Do the colors in the image above illicit any particular mood or feeling?

47 thoughts on “Moving Right Along

  1. I would love to hear more about your branding ideas. Learning from others is one of the benefits of social media. Something specific as far as multiple genres… ha ha ha ha! I cover so many fields it’s embarrassing. I decided to concentrate on selling me. I’m the common reference point in all my madness. I’d need multiple pen names to do it any other way, which leads to multiple blogs, etc. Writing what I do makes me happy, so I’ll keep doing it.

    Oh yeah, the picture… go Boise State?

    • Boise State? I was afraid being a Florida writer people would be inclined to say Go Gators! with University of Florida. But I was looking more for mood, or a general feeling associated with the colors. You are doing the very exact thing authors should do with your branding. Your platforms should focus on you and your personality rather than specifically selling books. Selling books should be a side effect of how you present yourself, but I’m learning, through much research in marketing and branding, that there is so much that is almost subliminal, yet very important. NA is the first book in a series, so I’ll lean toward the series rather than the stand alone. But it’s not going to be abandoned either. That’s the tricky part.

      • There are no rules, and darned few mentors along the way. Everything seems to be trial an error. I tend to share when I try something new, and if something pays off. Not all of it works, but some does.

        • It’s a real challenge to stand out from the crowd when it seems the goal is to do what everybody else is doing. There is a lot of work required in maintaining mediocre. Trying to push beyond that is the real challenge. It takes a strong fish to swim against the current. Even a dead one can float with it.
          — John Crowe
          I like that you let us know what’s working and what’s not. I try to do the same. My marketing plans go far beyond the blog and have more to do with an author web site that demands my attention.

        • BTW, I think you do marvelously at raising the bar. Your writing cabin posts and how you have incorporated your characters as spokespeople and such are exactly the sorts of things that set savvy marketers apart from the crowd.

  2. I love to read about all things pertaining to writing. Sneaking a peek into writer’s writing space is fun too!
    As for the photo, despite the blue, which I often associate with sadness, the orange exudes happiness.

    • That’s exactly what I’d hoped to hear. There is no orange on the cover of RC&R, but it does have a happy ending despite it’s dark tone. I’ve been told by an expert to pick two contrasting colors that note the flavor of both my books and one background color to set mood in preparing to set up an author web page. I see black for crime and dark notes, blue for law and sadness, and orange for humor and a touch of gaiety. Like a carnival color. Thanks so much for your input. 🙂

  3. I’ve never thought of your tag line as arrogant or pretentious. To me, you come across as authentic and real in our virtual world. I applaud your accomplishments publishing here and “in print,” Susan.

    Good job on creating suspense with your image – Colors lurk in the shadows, just like life – my take.

    • Great Marian! I wanted enough color so as not to be depressing, but still keep it dark enough for suspense and intrigue. And thank you for the kind words. My publishing here has been a bit slack for a long while getting other tasks attended to.

  4. I never thought of your tagline as pretentious. Having followed and read your posts for a while, I consider your brand of genius to be insightful. I have always enjoyed reading your latest and have benefitted from some of your experiences. I’m sure the books will be fine and you need not worry about your author brand.

  5. Go Bears! My husband is both a UF graduate and a UC Berkeley graduate so he’s never had to change his colors 😉 What you are doing with your books is very interesting and I appreciate that you’re sharing it. Don’t overthink the branding part. No, I’m no expert, but I honestly think the concept of “author brand” is overdone and probably not really necessary except to marketers (i.e., those people who make a living selling the idea of branding). There’s plenty of authors out there who write in different genres (J.K Rowling, for example) just because they want to. Just be you, Susan. Just be the compassionate, candid, honest, and OFTEN funny person you are. There’s your brand 🙂

    • Oh, I am who I am and not trying to create anything new. I’m frankly a bit nervous with the idea that an agent might be snooping around checking out my social network presence and judging me based on numbers rather than content and engagement. I love you guys and gals. But they won’t know you like I know you. I don’t expect any drastic changes here. I love how things rock and roll on my blog. I agree about the concept being overdone in many ways, and I’m certainly not spending money on how to create a brand. I already have an author brand, but marketing to sell books is trickier than writing and I believe the agents I pitch to at Sleuth Fest are going to want to know what I’m doing. …or at the very least, what sort of social media presence I have. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’m excited, but a a little scared. I have to reign in my bipolar tendencies and my social anxieties to present myself. I’m keenly aware of that fact. And yet, they too are part of the me that is me. I may take Chuck Wendig’s advice and just order a fancy cake to be delivered to the bar where all the writers and publishing people hang out and sit down and eat it…sharing, of course. That’d be a memorable impression. 😉

      • More power to you, Susan. It’s the whole marketing thing that discourages me from publishing. And the emphasis on quantity (traffic) vs quality. But I’ll be happy to cheer you on 🙂

        • Don’t let it discourage you. I’m learning that it can be a lot less work than people realize. It’s not necessary to slam social media daily.I’d love to share the material I’ve found on marketing and branding. Agents and editors nowadays don’t look at numbers, they know those can be easily fabricated. They look at engagement and how the writer relates to readers. However, I need all the cheerleaders I can get…so thanks in advance 🙂

  6. I can’t see your new tagline because I’m on a WP phone app and it won’t show it. What’s it say?

    Figuring how to market our books according to genre when we blur the margins is difficult. I wish I had a good answer how to do it, but I don’t. Some help I am. 🙂

    • Telling it like it was and telling it like it is. A reference to historical and contemporary fiction keeping in mind the candidness with which I approach all subjects…and a wee tad edgy. I’m throwing some silly putty against the walls to see what sticks.

  7. I go back to what a writer said at a conference I went to years ago. “There are no rules in writing except to write a good story.” I think the same goes for you in your decisions as to what to write, what to publish, and how to move forward on this. In some respects, because you do not yet have a large audience, it is easier for you. Personally, I want to read whatever you write (same goes for such people as Kevin Brennan and Carrie Rubin and a few others in the self-published universe) because I want to see what kind of story motivates you to put words on a page. In some respects, as self-published writers, we have the freedom to do that. We aren’t locked into a particular genre. Take that freedom and see what happens. Yes, some who read Red Clay and Roses will not necessarily be fans of Naked Alliances, but you’ll find readers with Naked Alliances you never got with Red Clay. And it’s perfectly suitable to do all of that on one platform under one name.

    • That’s very kind of you. I feel the same way about many of the authors I’ve met on wordpress, makes no difference if they are self-published or traditionally published. I’m interested in what motivates them to write and seeing what what they produce. I do think once an author gains a huge following they are locked into expectations…like J.K. Rowling…Elmore Leonard. One she had Potter, nothing she could write was as satisfying. You’re either a fan of Leonard’s westerns or his crime novels, but rarely both. I’m really at a point where I simply want to have fun writing. My former F-I-L used to say it’s not work if you’re having fun doing it. That’s how life should be. It’d be nice if everybody could have fun with their work. I enjoyed nursing, but I would never have spent a career doing it if I didn’t get paid. I couldn’t have. I’m at a point in life where the joy to be found in something far outweighs it’s dollar value. Yet, without marketing, it’s not going to happen to get readers. Readers are what makes it all worthwhile in the long run. The writing part is fun, but sharing fun is as rewarding as having fun.

  8. I know a lot of writers who straddle genres. I do it myself. I think with indie writing it’s far more acceptable than it was in the past. As a reader, I ping-pong all over the place with my tastes, so why shouldn’t I have some freedom to experiment with various genres as a writer? I don’t know that there is any hard and set rule for branding, but I think if you promote yourself and connect with readers they’ll follow your journey with you. Some might drop off when you switch genres, but others are willing to hitch a ride because they like what you have to say.

    As for the image at the top, it gave me a warm pensive feeling. Like I wanted to sit and dwell on it for a while, I love the play of darkness and light, half hidden, half exposed.

    • That’s good to know about the image. Pensive is deep, lost in thought, but it was a warm place…not a scary place, and that’s where I want to go with it.

      My reading tastes are as varied as possible, though I’ve been reading tons in the thriller genre of late. Mostly crime thriller. Some comedy capers. This series has the potential to morph into the unexpected. I have three more book outlines, but only one fleshed out. I see some crazy characters on the horizon. Most significantly, I’m still having fun with it. That’s a huge part of my motivation to write. I’m toying with the notion of an anti-hero or two. Not sure if I possess the skill to pull it off. But I’ll have fun trying. 🙂

  9. I love the thriller genre (it’s my favorite) although I tend more toward the speculative stuff. Love crime thrillers too, and my two favorite characters of all time are anti-heroes so I’m with you on that one. I think it’s great you’re reaching out and flexing your writing muscles! 🙂

    • I wish I was blessed with a natural talent for comedy. For some it seems to come surprisingly easy. I think I might be too nice. My dad was a natural comedian, a clever salesman with wit and charm. He was also a snake and could be a real ass when the situation warranted. I have an inherent need to avoid conflict and not offend people. That cripples me in some respects. I often come up with quick comebacks and funny things to say in social situations, but find myself quickly putting myself in check for fear of embarrassment. My dad didn’t know the meaning of the word embarrassment, he just threw it out there, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

  10. I never thought of you as arrogant or pretentious. I always took your tag line as “MY” brand of genius, kind of tongue-in-cheek. (At the same time, you ARE very knowledgeable about a great many subjects!)
    I thought the blue and orange–in this particular image–were kind of calming. It makes me think of a flame.

    • Hi Merril. Tongue-in-cheek is exactly the sort of humor in my new book. Not outright humor, but a little edge. For the most, the image has had the effect I hoped for, and that was both pensive/sad and serious, with tones of happiness and warmth. I’m trying to get dark history blended with humorous crime on my facebook page and other social media platforms. I’m not sure what changes I’ll make here on my blog, if any.

  11. I don’t know that you are promoting different genres. Rather, two spectrums of the same genre…crime. I ran into a similar problem with my blog a year or so ago. Because I started out as crimewriterblog.com, it’s been a long journey to convert everyone over to suecoletta.com, but it’s been well worth the effort. It’s always tough when you use the title of a book as your domain. If you want suggestions, my advice is to buy your name as the domain (because you’ll undoubtedly author more books) and then place a redirect from RCAR domain to your new address. It’s a lot easier than it sounds, and it will aid in when approaching agents and editors.

    BTW, The Police Academy is in Wisconsin. I have no idea where I got North Carolina from. I’m going this year and would love to meet you in person if you intend to go.

    • I don’t know if I’ll make it to Wisconson. I can drive to NC, but we’ll see. I own the domain sknicholls.com, but have never done a redirect. I thought once you had a wordpress domain you were stuck with it unless you went self hosted. I’m planning a web site, and thought I would have use it there, with a link to my blog

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