for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations
I've moved into indie publishing lately, where it is entirely my choice which books I release into the world. So, I've been thinking about branding.
One thing it has taken me a while to realize is that just because you don't write the most popular thing and you get some bad reviews because of it, doesn't mean you need to change anything.
My second novel, Between the Sea and Sky (Bloomsbury, 2001), is my favorite of my published books. Its review average on Amazon and Goodreads was never great, which initially made me feel like there was no place in the world for what I most love to write.
However, as the years have gone by, I've gotten many fan letters for that book from both kids and adult women who tell me it's one of their favorite books and they've read it many times. It took me all those years for the fan mail to trickle in before it finally dawned on me that it is the most beloved of all my books, as far as I can tell.
My brand is: cozy romantic fantasy about a couple in healthy relationship with lots of details about food, clothes, and domestic life, and bits of humor. The fantasy backdrop is more in the "courtly politics" vein rather than physical action, although there is a little of that.
The characters are always somewhat on the fringe of society, your lovable outcasts and weirdos, and if I've done my job, you keep reading because you find the characters delightful and you want to know what happens to them and see them find a place in the world.
|Betsy the Cat|
A lot of readers like having their heart ripped out of their chest. They give me reviews that say they wanted more action, more magic, more highs and lows. It's always tempting to listen to the bad reviews instead of the good.
And sometimes I love reading stuff that is epic, sweeping, dark. But when I try to write it feels like when I wear my disco dress with the fluttery sleeves. I love that dress but it just isn't me the way my plain 1960s navy blue librarian dress is.
Other people might even like the disco dress better, but it doesn't matter, I still would be happier living in the librarian dress.
As a reader, too, the cozy reads are the ones that fall apart on my shelf, because I pick them up again and again. So I realize now that it is more important to keep writing books that are the most me, and retain those readers who appreciate them too, than it is to try and chase the next big fantasy bestseller.
Jaclyn's books include:
- Magic Under Glass (Bloomsbury, 2009);
- Between the Sea and Sky (Bloomsbury, 2011);
- Magic Under Stone (Bloomsbury, 2012);
- Dark Metropolis (Hyperion, 2014);
- Glittering Shadows (Hyperion, 2015);
- The Vengeful Half (Self-published, 2016); and
- The Stolen Heart (Self-published, 2016).