I’m excited to welcome back the fabulous JENN STARK! You may know her by one of her other pseudonyms (read on). Scroll down for details of her GIVEAWAY!
When I first started publishing in 2013, I was writing Young Adult historical romance as Jennifer McGowan. A year later, I added contemporary romance as Jennifer Chance. A year after that? Urban Fantasy as Jenn Stark. As the author of now nearly thirty novels—now including paranormal romance as well!—I completely understand the allure of changing your brand…or at least wanting to write something different. But is that path the right one for you?
For writers, the grass can often seem greener on the other side of the genre fence. Maybe you’ve been toiling away at your Regencies… but you hear that Paranormal Romance is hot, and you think, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a paranormal!” Or, perhaps you’ve been making good sales on your contemporaries, but you long to sink your teeth into a sweeping historical.
Making the jump to writing a new type of book, however, requires more than just firing up your laptop and creating a new playlist. You also have your audience to consider—an audience that can include your readers, and—if you’re traditionally published—your agent, your editor and your publicist.
Now, before you offer up the names of authors who write all sorts of different books under a single pen name, please note: I’m not saying it can’t be done! I’m saying that it’s difficult to do well and consistently over long periods of time. If you want to duplicate the career of a successful author who maintains a single brand for all of her (differing) work, study her closely: does she write all of her books for one publisher or have a “built-in” audience? Does she maintain a heavy release schedule for the “off-brand” books, or does she focus primarily on her “on-brand” books? Is there a huge difference between the genres she writes most frequently, or are they fairly similar in tone and style?
As you consider making a switch in the style and focus of your writing, use this handy scoring system to determine what impact – if any! – that switch could have on your current Writing Brand.
How long have you had your current Writing Brand?
If you’ve only recently begun marketing your work, or if you haven’t begun marketing it at all, this is the best possible time for you to consider changing your brand. However, if you’ve made sales and have established an audience for your work, then you need to weigh your proposed change carefully. Your Writing Brand is important to your audience. It’s how they identify you, how they relate to your work, and it represents what you and your writing mean to them.
To give proper credit to the impact of your current brand, assign it a point value:
- 1 = I have not actively marketed my work under this brand.
- 3-5 = I have made 1-5 sales with this brand (Give yourself a 3 for a pending sale to 1 sale, 4 for 2-3 sales and 5 for 4-5 sales).
- 10 = I have made 6 or more sales with this brand, and have books coming out regularly.
How much of a change is your new Brand from your current Brand?
If you are looking to make a shift from writing vampire romance to werewolf romance, but still wish to maintain an overall paranormal influence in your writing, your brand change is admittedly fairly slight. Of greater potential concern is a brand shift between two very different genres – such as moving from light historicals to gritty romantic suspense. How does your change rank?
- 1 = I plan to continue writing within the same overall genre.
- 3-5 = I plan to write within a new genre, but one that is linked to my current genre – for example, I currently write hip contemporary novels; now I plan to write hip contemporary paranormal novels. (Give yourself a higher score the more distant your new writing focus will be from your current focus).
- 10 = I plan to write in a new genre, that is not at all linked to my current genre (for example, I was writing Regencies; my new book, however, is Romantic Suspense).
How focused will you be on the new Brand vs. your current Brand?
What’s your writing future look like? Will you ever write books like the ones you wrote before making a brand change? Or are you committed to your new writing focus?
- 1 = I will never again write a book that would fall under my “old” brand.
- 5 = I expect I will write the occasional book in my “old” brand style, but not for a while. I’ll mainly focus on my new Writing Brand.
- 10 = I fully expect to write books both in my “old” (which is still my “current”!) Writing Brand and my new Writing Brand
Tally up your scores! Based upon where you rank, below are some steps you can take to make your brand transition smooth—both for you, and for your readers.
3-10: Only slight branding changes needed
With a modest change in your writing focus, or if you are fairly early in your career, you can maintain your current authorial name, website and marketing materials. However, you may want to consider updating your look to better reflect the expanded focus of your writing, so that your readers know what to expect!
11-20: Possible candidate for a new Writing Brand—if not, then major changes and/or publicity needed
This is a grey area. You could get away with updating your marketing materials, doing some promo around your new Writing Brand, and hoping your readers will “get it” when you shift between brand styles. My advice, however, would be to create a new Writing Brand for yourself: this means a new pen name, new website, new marketing materials, new look. Go ahead and link to your new site from your current site—or creatively feature both brands on a single site—and promote the heck out of both brands!
21-30: Congratulations on the Brand New You!
No question about it—it’s time for a different brand. Like Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb, you are writing different stories on a grand scale, and you owe it to yourself and your readers to differentiate yourself accordingly. Again, plan on cross promoting yourself to leverage your current audience base. Check out authors with multiple robust brands and see how they present them!
Are you considering changing your Writing Brand—or exploring a new genre? If so, what’s your biggest concern?
Jenn Stark is an award-winning author of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. She lives and writes in Ohio. . . and she definitely loves to write. In addition to her Immortal Vegas and Wilde Justice urban fantasy series and Demon Enforcers paranormal romance series, she is also author Jennifer McGowan, whose Maids of Honor series of Young Adult Elizabethan spy romances are published by Simon & Schuster, and author Jennifer Chance, whose Rule Breakers series of New Adult contemporary romances are published by Random House/LoveSwept and whose modern royals series, Gowns & Crowns, is now available.
You can find her online at https:www.jennstark.com, follow her on Twitter @jennstark, and visit her on Facebook at https:www.facebook.com/authorjennstark.
GIVEAWAY! Post your answer below or ask any questions you’d like! I’ll choose a winner from all posters to receive an ebook of my newest UF release, THE RED KING, or contemporary romance release, WEDDED!
THE RED KING
Starting a new job can be murder.
As the first Justice of the Arcana Council in two hundred years, Tarot-reading Sara Wilde is tasked with taking out the most dangerous magic-wielding criminals on the planet. Her first assignment? A killer known only as the Red King, who’s systematically picking off the world’s most gifted magicians in the rollicking streets and storied canals of Venice, Italy, on the eve of Carnevale.
Amidst the festival’s music, masks, and brightly colored costumes, Sara must unravel the truth about a brutal murderer from Venice’s own murky past, navigate the twisting political currents of magicians who seek to rival her own Council, and keep one costume change ahead of a conjurer whose lethal spells could end Justice–permanently. Good thing the diabolically sexy and deeply powerful Magician of the Arcana Council has Sara’s back…if only he didn’t hold so much of her heart as well.
The canals of Venice will run with blood when you deal in The Red King.