Important Questions for a New Year
Orna Ross, of the Alliance of Independent Authors, asks authors to think about these questions in her first post for the new year in the ALLi newsletter:
What do I offer to readers that is different and unique?
Why should readers read my books?
What do I need to do to make them care?
How can I build a community around what I offer?
These are incredibly important questions for every author to ask themselves—and not easy ones to answer. I’m going to give a shot though because it’s important for me to know these answers, and important for anyone who reads my books (or might do so one day) as well.
First, lets look at what drove me to start writing in the first place, where I came from and what drives me to continue writing despite the difficult nature of this business (because no one who has ever written and published a book has said that it was easy).
I started writing because I had nothing else to do. Honestly! I was bored out of my skull. I had moved to a new place and couldn’t get a job. To fill my time, I started writing the books I loved to read, Regency romance (I grew up reading Georgette Heyer, thanks to my mother).
What started as a way to occupy myself, ended up turning into a career that I loved both because I enjoyed making up stories and characters, but also because a few years after I started writing I also started having children. I wanted to stay home to be with my babies and writing allowed me to do that and work at the same time.
So, with that knowledge in mind, what is it that I offer readers that is different from any other writer of Regency romance? Well, mainly it’s my unique perspective of the world. Although I’m American and grew up in the U.S., I grew up around people who were from other countries (my mother taught English as a Second Language to university students, befriended a number of her students, and invited them to our home). I then married someone from another country (my husband is Indian). So I have always had an outsider’s view of the world and life around me. I bring that to my books.
Almost all of my books center around the theme of being a “fish out of water”. They almost always include someone who doesn’t fit into ordinary society for some reason or in some way.
I think a lot of people, no matter what their upbringing, can relate to that.
In a way, now that I think about it, my new series that I’m just developing, doesn’t play on that theme. But it should because that’s what I do best. I started putting together this new series intending it to be light and fun–that was my main goal in creating it. I’m deliberately using a lot of tropes—from the characters to the plot of each book, I’m playing on well-established tropes. But because these are my books they will all have a bit of me in them and “fish out of water” is me. When the books are finally written you’ll find it there, I guarantee it.
So what do I offer writers that is different and unique? It is my outsider’s view. It is my unique perspective of the world and how people interact. I bring readers into a world where they are foreigners (unless you grew up in Regency England and have time-traveled here) and I want to make my readers feel both at home and as if they are the ones trying to figure out how to fit in.
If you enjoy that—learning about a different world and different people—then read my books. My new series is going to be light and fun and my old books… well, they’re not always so light, but I hope that they’re always fun and an enjoyable read.
Yes, I invite you to come into my world because you will always be made welcome. Come, travel with me.
Next week I’ll tackle the third and perhaps fourth questions: What do I need to do to make readers care and how do I build a community around what I write?
I hope you’ll come back to read my answers. And please share your stories, thoughts and ideas with me below, I love hearing from you!