Hello Readers, and welcome back to my hell blog.
As you might remember, we’re in the business of trying to write a novel here, and last week I sorta broke down my process for you in a super silly simplified way that was totally smart and inspiring and did not make any of you doubt whether I own a college degree. I did not go into how I get ideas or what I do as a business or any of that for the simple fact that currently I am trying to write this one side novel out of love of the craft. But as some of you are here for the business side of things, and it does help me to occasionally think logically about things, I will now proceed to break down my super secret method to figuring out what I’m going to write to make money so that I can buy nice yogurt.
Because, you know, some of you are into that.
Anyway, I, Miss Bethany Anne Lovejoy, have a keen business sense that never fails me, except when it does and I write too slow to cash in on a trend.
On the rare occasion that I decide that I might like to write a book on trend or start a new series that people actually read (largely to boost my ego), I go to amazon.com and…
Look at the top 100 in my genre.
Bam! Magic spell for success casted! There is is, my great secret.
No, seriously, that’s what I do.
I go there, I see what’s new, look for patterns, and bam. Success.
So let’s say today, March tenth, I were to look in my genre category and decide to be a successful young woman. First I would need to identify my genre, which is easy enough.
You, my beloved readers, are on the blog of a fantasy romance author. This will come as a shock to some of you, and a few of you will undoubtedly leave.
Yes, I, B. A. Lovejoy, write Fantasy romance. All of that world building and historical research is for… kissing books.
Now I could go into the feminist history of kissing books and how they operate in a largely female dominated economy, or I could get more into a base understanding of who I am as a writer.
You see, two years ago I had about five books out, a few ideas in my pocket, and a lot of time to look into what I was doing right. I then just… sat down and looked at what I had written, the vibes I was giving off, and what I was praised for in reviews? Keep in mind, there were few reviews then, but I was determined and read through every single one of them. What I found was a list of my strengths.
What I’m good at (I think):
- World Building
- Dialogue, but not in excess
Now, I can’t really explain how I decided that past the whole reading reviews thing and looking through my work, it’s just one of those things that you pick up over time that you can’t really explain, but all of it added up to this:
I realized I was really good at creating escapism, and absolute crap at working in modern times.
Just, stylistically, garbo. Also I like writing weird, immersive folklore pieces, which is important. Always write things you like, kids. Weigh that heavier than anything else, because otherwise the whole writing things thing is gonna suck.
But also, like, full acknowledgement here, I’m not as good at contemporary time period fantasy. At least in my mind.
Does this mean that all of my works that take place in obviously modern time periods suck? No. The City of Crows is, in my opinion, a good book with a good premise. It’s just that when it came to working with modern implements such as texting (a very dialogue heavy feature), implied setting, and clothes… It’s not as good. I was not meant to be an urban fantasy author, or at least I haven’t yet developed the skills to work in urban fantasy– that’s the key there, yet.
Always remember that so long as you are writing, you are learning and growing.
Dumb analogy here, it’s completely a side note: I like to think of being a writer as kind of being a bit like being a handyman; when you first start out, you have all the basic tools and you’re sort of more gifted at some skills than others, but over time as you work on new projects and encounter more problems, you’ll begin to obtain the tools and skills to expand your offerings.
Therefore, while I’m prepared to say that I am woefully lacking the skill set to work in Urban Fantasy now, I cannot say that I will never develop that skill set or begin to craft Urban Fantasy in the future. Hell, the University of the Unseen was almost an urban fantasy (it’s a quasi-period piece), but for the time being?
I’m looking at the listings knowing that I’m really good at quasi-period to straight-played period settings, I work primarily in escapism, I have a strong folklore background that people like to see me work in, and I do quiet heroes the best but am also really good at working with the reformed playboy archetype in some settings.
I am also looking at the listings knowing I want to try something new.
So, let’s focus in on the fact that it’s march tenth again and look at the top 100 in fantasy romance.
Okay, so, as you can see, there’s books here. Some usual suspects, you know. Normal stuff.
I like to go through all of the amazon top 100 in my category as well as my kindle recommended feed, which I have because I am a privileged girl who owns a subscription to kindle unlimited. Taking notes on the top 100, I look for trends in topics and then see if I’ve already read from those trends and if there’s anything similar that I’m interested in. I ignore the usual suspects because SJM will always be there.
Just looking at the top 100, here’s what I’m seeing:
B. A. Lovejoy uses trends but does not use math to figure out percentages or any of that because she majored in creative writing:
- Seeing a lot of darker themes in romance. Gruffer heroes. This sucks for me. I am so bad at that.
- Seeing a lot of shifter romance. Could use this if I went full lore but would probably get roasted in the reviews. I do have ideas for a slavic folklore inspired romance with a bear king that I put in my back pocket because it reminded me too much of my favorite disney movie Brave, I’m digging that out of my notes and putting it on my desk beside me as we speak– I can rework it.
- Lots of fae romance again. Lots of fae retellings. I’ve made a note to myself to turn on and off some ads as I pulled out my fae folklore binder.
- Gothic romance. Nice.
- Soulmates. I’m already using that but have folklore for soulmates in one of my binders (more on the binders another week), digging that out.
- Dragons. Mainly shifter dragons. I’m already working with companion animals in my current series. I sigh.
- Some demons. Some witches. Some academy leaning stuff, this is a good sign for me because again new series is dark academia. I will be able to get good yogurt in the coming months.
Aaaaaaand my kindle is just historical romance right now. And contemporary romcoms. God I love contemporary romcoms.
Feeling nostalgic, I went to check out gaslamp fantasy because I get categorized there a lot, only to find a lot of murder mysteries. This is also a good sign for my coming series, but not a great sign for coming up with something new. I bite my thumb and think, reviewing in my head the fact that there’s a good amount of fae retellings of old fairytales.
Now here is where I am so smart and clever that everyone should tell me what a special girl I am.
I am in several facebook reading groups, largely because I read an absolutely absurd number of books every year. I also read just about every post that comes by me.
I remember, in my little old steel trap brain, that someone was complaining about seeing a lot of repetitive fairytales lately and if they read another Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella retelling they’re going to scream. I remembered her criticism largely because people’s opinions matter, and I am good at remembering them. She liked fae retellings, which are slowly trending again, but hated the stereotypical fairytales that everyone does, which would normally suck for most writers…
But you see, dear readers, I am well versed in fairytales outside of the usual.
Since this whole week is about harvesting ideas, I’m now kinda getting a rough notion of what would likely sell, and also getting ideas from looking at what other people are doing, but it’s not enough. I also have to get my ‘I’m jealous and would like to do that too’ cogs going.
Insert me finding out that my favorite girl, Emma Hamm (who is a lovely writer and makes me happy), is advertising a goblincore romance. Also she wrote a troll romance at some point. I am immediately jealous, I love her.
You know what I also love? Ballet. Her goblincore romance reminded me of the Troll King’s bride idea from my first nanowrimo round that failed because I did not stay true to my heart and let her kiss that monster– I am pulling the idea out from my notebooks and rewriting it with all of the others on a pink sticky note you are not allowed to see because I am farming for content these days and have to draw this event out for attention because I am essentially Tinkerbell and will die without it.
I now have a rough idea of what I want to write. Something indulgent that will scratch my jealous itch and also indulge my love of folklore. This is because I am trash and genuinely assume that every single book another person writes has to have been insanely fun to make, despite the fact that I have had several experiences to prove otherwise.
Anyway, now that I know what sells, I have to remind myself what my readers are here for– escapist fantasy with a romantic element, and do my very best to disappoint them once again by tossing on their laps self indulgent trash.
Next week, I will come back with a list of the ideas I have come up with, explain my binders, and then begin to come up with mock plots to help me narrow down what is a nice daydream to have occasionally vs. what can be an actual book.
This is the hardest part, because I am, at my core, a girl who just wants to have fun.