Good morning, all! I’ve spent the past hour reading all the MSW posts I’ve missed the last week or so. Wow! What fabulous ladies! I shouldn’t have done this though…now I feel like the nobody band who has to follow Aerosmith or Bon Jovi on stage….
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to do next. I continue to write my Colby Agency books for Harlequin Intrigue and I love, love doing those stories. But my single title career is at a crossroads. What do I do next? Something new and cutting edge. Something high concept, etc., etc. But ultimately I decided on something from the past for my future single title career. Sounds odd I know, but I’m fired up about it.
A couple of years ago, maybe three, I came up with this amazing romantic suspense/thriller series idea. At least I thought it was amazing. My current single title publisher didn’t agree so I put the idea on a shelf and allowed it to gather dust. Meanwhile I wrote stand alone novels for St. Martin’s Press, all of which I felt were good, but they weren’t connected in any fashion (other than I did sneak in one repeat character–the boot lady, the one and only Kim Schaffer!). There was nothing to bring the readers back. And in this economy we all have to cut back and make hard choices. If my book came out the same time as another author who had an ongoing series a reader loved and that reader only had expendable funds for one book, what would happen? The reader would likely desperately want to know what happened next in the series, while my book could be read any time since it was not connected to anything past or future. This thinking was fueled by the fact that I’ve done Colby Agency stories for ten years now (number 32 is out next month–SMALL TOWN SECRETS!). The responses of the readers showed me the benefit of recurring characters and building that character network. Think about it, that’s part of what makes TV series like The Closer, TrueBlood, etc., so wildly popular. Folks learn to love those characters and want to know what happens to them next. Yes, I know we’ve talked about this before but I had to make another of those hard choices and that’s why it’s on my mind this morning.
I also recognized that although it was flattering to have “novel” on the spine of my books, it wasn’t in the best interest of my career. I came from the romance world and folks expect to find my books on the romance shelves. Having 35% or so of the copies in the fiction aisles wasn’t working (at least not with those romancy covers). So I took a big step back and looked to the past to determine how to proceed with my future.
I pulled that dusty series off the shelf, did some more fine-tuning and sent it to my agent. Now I’m in ‘wait” mode to see if the past will propel my future. I’ve made that hard choice I mentioned above: I will not agree to a contract for new single title books until a publisher is serious about my future career. I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, I walked away from my single title publisher who was perfectly willing to give me a new contract. As much as I love writing, from this point forward it must be about the right decisions for the books. It can’t be about the money (oh my God! Did I just say that?) or anything else. It has to be about what’s right for the readers and my career progression. Yes, I’m a writer and that’s a frightening decision to make, but I have my Colby Agency safety net. As I said I love writing those books–I’m working on one right now! So cross your fingers, folks, and lets see where stepping back to the future takes me!
And look for my next (and last this year) single title release on June 30th! EVERYWHERE SHE TURNS is set in the mill village where I live (names, etc. have been changed to protect the almost innocent). I loved writing this story because it allowed me to focus on what’s real and right here in front of me. It focuses on the hard decisions that everday folks have to make and it’s not always pleasant. Sometimes it’s outright deadly!
What’s the hardest decision you ever had to make about your career?