Best Advice from RWA National: The Promise To Your Readers


It was an upbeat conference this year. Editors didn’t look so hunted. Those writers not yet published didn’t look so desperate—probably because the decision to be published is now in their own hands. And the self publishing panels weren’t just about how to format an ebook, but actually had a lot of great info.

My favorite workshop was held by Barbara Freethy, Bella Andre, and Tina Folsom—three ladies who’ve done very well for themselves and who have shown that self published does not mean bad books or terrible sales. The best advice I heard came from Bella Andre who talked about the contract a writer has with a reader—a contract to deliver not just a good read but a certain level of sensuality in the books. She’s established as a secondary identity for a different type of book (and no, I’m not going to tell you the name—you’ll have to hunt it up yourself). But she did the new name because the books offer a different level of sex in the books—it’s a different “type” of book.

Now, I’d been looking at genre for “different”—and thinking that of course that’s why you needed a pen name. But this hit home—of course it’s not genre. It’s more about the feel of the book—what type of book is it. And that got me looking at my own bookshelves again.

I read sexy books—love the good ones. But it’s not my primary read. And that got me thinking.

Paths of Desire is a book I did to break out to a larger book and a more sweeping historical. I amped up the sex in the book—probably too much so. It’s a good book—or I think so. But I got to thinking about my readers. I’d had one reader post a one star review—and I think she’s right. It’s not the book for her, but she’s my reader. And it’s a brave new world.

This lead me to do an edit and I’m bringing out Paths of Desire: The Sweet Regency Edition. It’s more like my other Regencies—not exactly the door shutting on the sex (it’s a romance, and these folks become lovers, and that’s a vital part of the plot), but making it more about the emotion and less about the body parts. A new cover and a new ISBN denotes the new version of the book. And now readers can choose which version they like better.

I’m also going to be looking closer at my urban fantasy books, too—maybe I’ll bring out the hot version and the plot version and let readers pick which they prefer. Or maybe I’ll just bring them into the “Shannon Donnelly” version so that no pen name is needed—it’ll be a change of genre, but not a change of tone.

Either way should be interesting.

So what do you think—hot or not? Or is it best to have a choice that you the reader can make in which edition you like best?

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4 thoughts on “Best Advice from RWA National: The Promise To Your Readers

  1. I quite frankly think that’s one of the most brilliant ideas in publishing I’ve heard all year–maybe in the past several years. It ties in with the whole “interactive reader” notion, and I absolutely LOVE it!! Yes, Shannon!!! Do this!!! It will be like the PG versus the R rating…and people can choose. *mad clapping from the peanut gallery!!!*

  2. It’s nice–also a bit daunting–to think that as authors, we’re no longer captive to our brand even within a given title. Hats off to you for taking a good story, and polishing it to appeal to as many Regency readers as possible.

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