This year has been the year of learning to market and advertise my books properly. Well, so far it's been the year of trying to learn how to market and advertise. Some months I feel like I'm getting the hang of it, others not so much.
One of the things I've struggled with since day one in writing romance, is that I don't quite write to any one market or genre. I'm contemporary, sure, but that's super broad. And even in contemporary there's (usually) an expectation of steamy, sexy stuff that I very rarely write.
So, I suppose you're thinking I write the sweet sort of love stories. Which I do. Kind of. Except I swear a lot and you can't swear and market to sweet readers. Just doesn't work that way. And I can't not swear. Because I don't work that way.
Romantic comedy. That's where I lean heaviest. Buuuut, even though my dialogue is funny and there's usually plenty of humor to be found throughout the book, when you write about things like PTSD, or abuse, or addiction or really any sort of darker side of life stuff, apparently, people don't appreciate it being labeled comedy. Even if it is. Because all of life is comedy. If you have the (morbid) sense of humor for it.
Speaking of morbid. Know what the cardinal rule of romance writing is? A happy ending. Know what romance readers don't consider happy? When you end the story with a main character dying. (I know, no one told Nicholas Sparks). In my defense, I've never killed anyone at the end of a story. I kill them in the beginning. I just don't tell you until the end. I'm in a sort of gray area with the rules here.
For a while there, I thought, hey, maybe I write Chick Lit. Most of my stories are centered around the female characters more than the males. Maybe Chick Lit is where I live. But then I wrote One Moment At A Time and all but one chapter is written from Ben's perspective, so maybe not.
Really, I'd like to have my own genre. I'd call it something like 'soapy-sitcom-standalone where someone probably falls in love'. Because that's kind of how it plays out in my head while I'm writing. Sure, I'm centered around two main characters, but the rest of the cast always adds so much to the story. The friendships, the family dynamics, the pets, the town - sometimes the town's annual Christmas show - all come into play. THAT's where all the really great stuff happens. The romance, sure, that's fun - but all the other stuff is just as awesome. And so much more entertaining to write than a sex scene (listen, writing sex is not sexy. It's just awkward. It's like watching other people do it...really closely...while you take super detailed notes). And it's totally cool if that's your jam...and the jam of those you watch...but I just can't get into it.
So, in closing, I'm still learning. And while I get a little freaked out sometimes when I'm confronted with things like 'know your audience' and 'write to market' and 'stay in your lane' and 'find your niche' and so on and so forth, I also know, that in life, I am much like my books. I don't ever really belong anywhere. In Germany I was the only girl eating PB&J's at recess and celebrating 4th of July and in the US I'm the only girl who knows that the butter knife is actually a fish knife and that everyone is saying gouda wrong. I may not belong anywhere, but I can get along everywhere. And for me, that's worked out pretty well.
Maybe it doesn't have to be so different for my books.