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Creative’s Too Creative: Be Consistent

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You should never fear being creative. There are challenges to it. It confuses the crap out of your readers for one thing. When they finish reading one book, they’re notorious for wanting to pick up something similar to curb that “Good Book Hangover.”

One of the things that helps when you find yourself eccentrically creative is to be consistent.

Keep all your information straight. 

This should be a no-brainer. Really. When you’re doing anything, you should keep all your facts straight. But let’s face it, when you’re writing a story, there’s a LOT of stuff to keep straight, and that’s if you don’t change anything major!

When you’re writing something creative, you’re usually building a new world. Not always, but a lot of the time. Some readers–and by some, I mean a lot of them–have a really hard time surviving outside of their buckets, their comfort zones. So, being consistent is imperative.

This includes how you describe unique elements in your world.

Take Dream Killers for example. We teleport via Place and sometimes we use the other person’s Who as our destination point. Not always, though because not everyone can follow a Who, and a Who can only be traced if it’s been collected.

My error was in defining Place and Who in different ways before the initial definition took roots. I failed to make a consistent foundation before branching out.

Some people got it. Some people really, really got it and loved it. But out of 25 reviews that were originally promised, I received 7. I was IM’d 5 times by people telling me that they were confused even though it was well-written. The world building elements and the “lingo” were too confusing. And I had 3 people IM me to let me know that it was “beautifully written, but too unique.”

I can’t ignore those numbers. Something went wrong, and I think it was the fact that I didn’t sit down and define my lingo at the get-go well enough for them to feel I was consistent with it, even though I was.

Keep your launches coming and timely. 

I gotta say. This is one thing I struggle with. I’ve started my own publishing company. I have a business plan. I need to update it with a few changes I’ve made at the end of the year, but

I’m taking this serious.

The thing I can’t allow myself to forget is that after a reader finishes my books, especially if they liked them, they’re going to want something similar. I don’t know anyone out there who writes the kinds of stories I do. I’m sure they’re out there. I can’t believe in a world this big that I’m the only one. I’m not. It’s mathematically impossible, I’m sure. But I haven’t found them.

That means I have to provide those books. That means I have to create a schedule and stick to it. I have to plan it into my budget (which is something I have to do anyway with the fact that this is a business, not a hobby). The readers have to be able to count on me, especially since I’m a nobody in the book business. I actually had a review–great review, btw–tell me I was a nobody in the book business. Kinda of a reminder of how small a fish I am in this giant ocean of books. I digress.

If I say I’m going to launch a book in October, I have to do that.

Otherwise, what few readers and fans I have will leave no matter how much they enjoyed my books.

This is probably why several of the big authors that are household names became well-known after they’d had a few books out. This part of the consistency is tough.

So, what are you going to work on? 

For me, I have to figure out how build the foundation (without info-dumping, which I loathe) before throwing my readers into the pool.

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Being Unique is Like Being Space Junk

In the last post, we discussed if there’s such a thing as too creative? The answer, apparently, is yes. But why? Why wouldn’t readers want something wildly different? Why wouldn’t publishers jump on incredibly unique stories? Why is it that when a unique, wonderful, beautiful book hits the market, we don’t get MORE of them?

A majority of them simply don’t survive.

Being wildly unique is a gamble for the author/publisher. 

While it’s awesome that the author was able to find that odd niche that makes them unique, it’s hit or miss on whether or not people are going to get it. It took J.K. Rowling how long to become a hit? I don’t even remember hearing about the books until, oh, I don’t know, a couple years before the first movie came out. And then, it was one of my friends who mentioned them and was like, “Yeah, it’s a kids book, but it’s cool. Not something I’d typically read, but we’re a few books into it now and the kids have grown a lot. I like it.” But she said this with a shrug and a frowny face, so I wasn’t really sold.

In J.K. Rowlings’ case, she wrote a series of books in an age group I didn’t read. My kids did, so I might have gotten into it through them. As it was, I…well, I think I did pick them up once, but put them down because there weren’t dragons, dogs, horses, or princesses in them and my girls weren’t “into boys” yet, or even acknowledging they existed.

Ms. Rowlings’ gamble was that her type of story would most likely appeal to children. The world she created, the characters she shared, even the plot as dark as it got, was perfect for kids. Her writing style made it highly palatable.

Of course, it made it highly viable for readers–and a few non-readers–of all ages to slip into her stories as well.

But for a long time, I’m willing to bet Ms. Rowling was sweating it. What we forget is that time when she was still an unknown name and her sales really weren’t that awesome. She had to pick up speed and readers, and get people talking about Harry first. And that took time.

Genre’s are buckets where readers reside, a little like planets out in space. 

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When is Creative TOO Creative?

I wrote not one, but two unique series. Each one gets picked up by several people, but the number of readers who actually complete the books and then review are few. It’s actually pretty common for me to get a message that reads, “I really wanted to like this, and it’s beautifully written, but it’s just too unique.”

Seriously?

It’s not rare to find an author who is unique anymore. The market is flooded with ideas that are no longer being squelched  by the marketing machines who truly understand the market. There are a lot more fresh voices and ideas out there now than there was a decade ago.

Personally, as a reader, I LOVE that! I don’t see the point in shelling out $5-20 for a book that I’ve read before. Especially not when I previously invested that money the week prior on the same book, just a different name, different author, and different character names.

Understand I’m over-simplifying. I know that. I’m doing so to make a point, knowing full well that each story is truly different. Romances all have the same purpose and can sometimes feel like the same book, but they really are different. Same thing goes with paranormal/urban fantasy. They might have similar main characters, similar settings, similar plot elements, but they’re all different. 

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I, however, want something TOTALLY different on a regular basis. So, that’s what I wrote.

Funny thing, though. Those marketing machines that squelched new ideas and fresh approaches and stories understood one thing very well. The ravaging reader, that mass of people who ingest books like a drug addict, enjoy reading things that fall within their niche.

Each marketing book I pick up starts with, “Know your reader.” That means, find your genre, that box that has already been set up for you, and get to know what those readers want. And, people, it works. It works. But what happens when you write something that sits next to that box, but doesn’t quite fit in it?

In future posts, I’m going to explore marketing trends and how they work. I’m also going to explore how to make truly creative, unique and new ideas more appealing without having to repeat repetitiously–which drives me NUTS! And we’ll figure out how to create your niche…without losing your resolve or drive.

Because…oi. That’s tough.

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