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3 little things

I have so many writing thoughts whirling through my head that I haven't even titled this blog yet. I'll see what explodes first, before I do.

The sort of things that have been traipsing through my mind this week are related to the writing business, to brand and markets and to reviews. Perhaps the three are linked. If so, let's see -and then we might have a title.

1. Brand. I am brand Jo Zebedee, just like every writer is brand xyz. But brand Jo Zebedee is a bit mixed up at the moment. There is sf writer, who writes Abendau, there's a YA writer, who wrote Inish Carraig and a few other unreleased goodies in that demograph (and never markets themselves as YA, one of the biggest book markets there is) and there's the Irish writer, who writes fantasy with an Irish touch that would probably appeal to that market.

Which means that, when someone moseys off to my author page, my range is becoming increasingly confused. Do I expect a lover of Abendau to love Waters and the Wild - probably not. There are parallels between the two works, of course, but there are differences to.

When I blogged privately about this on a forum this week, the lovely Juliana Spink-Mills put it thus:

'Your strength has always been writing crossover fiction that is a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. A SF thriller that isn't quite YA or adult. A space opera trilogy that is more about character than actual space. A dark literary gem that can be seen as fantasy or psychological thriller."

Which means that brand Jo Zebedee might be a mixed little bag of work. Or it might mean that it should be more than one brand - like when you pop in for your groceries and coffee goes under decaff and filter and those odd little pod things.

If I did mix it up, I suspect I might end up with something like Iain Banks, only more complicated:

Jo Zebedee - fantasy stuff
J C Zebedee - Space Opera stuff (which would have the added benefit of removing my gender as the author of the book and all the residual marketing challenges of that)
J Zebedee - Young adult stuff - or retain the two names above and slot the YA in by genre and just make it clearer on the covers.

You see the headache I'm having.

Anyhow, I haven't made a decision yet. Apart from anything else I'd need to liaise with my sf publishers and see how they feel about it. Still. It's a possibility.

So, that was musing one for the week.

My second musing was around reviews and the impact they do, or don't have on sales, and where reviews' impact ends and word-of-mouth starts. Again, I don't have an answer for this but increasingly I'm leaning towards word-of-mouth being the more valuable. Amazon does not give a stuff how well my books are considered, but about how many people are clicking and buying - and they have the right to do so. It's their space they're using to sell my books. But it does beg the question: if your books aren't visible, what's the use of reviews in terms of drawing new readers in (not in terms of turning a casual glance to a buy, for instance, which is a different scenario.)

I don't know if there has been any sort of study done into all that, but more and more I'm saying to people - it's not just about reviews (not just for me, this is a general musing for all writers) but the times you mention it on forums, or to people, or at conventions, or wherever.

So, really I'm wondering if we have this whole marketing thing ass-about-face by insanely chasing reviews.(Not that I'm a crazy review chaser anyhow)

And, now... the third thing. Just how lucky I feel not to have to write for a living. (I should really have milked all this and got 3 blogs from it....). How lucky I am to have another job that brings in the pennies. Because I cannot write commercially and feel the same satisfaction as when I write whatever happens to turn me on right there, right then. If I was a full time writer I'd have to have my eye on the income all the time. I think that works fine if your work does fall under a defined marketing arena all the time. And I think it also works fine if you have the skills set to bang out words professionally when required, or can do a multi-income stream writing career: scriptwriting, and editorial, and screen adaptations, and ghost writing.

To be frank, I'd rather keep the day job that switch it to something like that. I love writing - but it's my own stuff I like writing. I'm lucky that if I write something that bombs, it doesn't matter. I'll still eat that week.

So, there we go, three little things that sum up some of the thoughts of a not-quite-struggling writer this week. Brand, reviews, working for a living.

Which doesn't help at all with coming up with a title....


Unknown said…
You do cross genres, but I don't see that as a problem. I mean, Fantasy and Sci-Fi have a lot of crossover in terms of fans (at least, from my point of view, based on my experience with nerds). They're not a million miles away from each other the way, say, erotica and children's fiction is. The YA thing does bring in another element, sure, but I feel it enriches what you do rather than complicate it. Maybe that's just me being biased because I love everything you're doing with your writing career, but... *shrug*.
I'm not one to read your Space Operas (more for the fact that it's dark rather than it being sci-fi, to be fair), but I enjoyed Inish and can't wait to get my teeth into Waters in the Wild. Does the fact that you wrote some books that aren't for me make me appreciate the ones that are up my alley less? Not at all.
Unknown said…
(that comment was from Ellie, by the way. Why does Google always list me as 'unknown', I will never know.)
Jo Zebedee said…
Thanks, Ellie, that's very reassuring!