“Look, no one’s gonna buy it — no one.”
“No one in Middle America, anyway. That’s for sure.”
“Sweetheart, it’s just not commercial!”
These are some of my favorite lines from the song “Putting it Together” on Barbara Streisand’s Broadway Album. I played the song yesterday while I was driving and sang along as loudly as I could. I felt that song and needed to belt it out because right now I’m caught in the same conundrum as the painter George Seurat that it was written about and Barbara Streisand–balancing being creative with being commercial. It seems the state of art has changed little since Seurat was around.
One of my goals in becoming an author was to push some boundaries and expand the scope of the romance genre. I had reached my limit of bad boys and good girls, slut shaming, and billionaires desperately looking for poor, clumsy dates. I wanted to read about smart, funny, edgy females and intelligent, kind, multi-dimensional men, so that’s what I wrote. That part was actually easy, it was once I published it that things got complicated.
Genres, tropes and archetypes exist for a reason. They give everyone involved in fiction shorthand to help authors find readers and readers find authors. It’s easy to find a new vampire, BDSM novel to read when you and the author use the same language (keywords) to define the story. But what happens when a writer goes against the grain, on purpose? There isn’t a category for good guys and the smart, sexual girls who love them. I truly believe that I’m not the only one who wants to read a story about them but finding the others has been…well…daunting.
It’s part of being indie. Whether you are a painter, writer, musician, screenwriter or designer–indie is supposed to be independent of commercial influence. Indie is innovative but indie can also be broke. So I’m now pushing my indie boundaries by trying to find my more commercial side.
This past week I started to work with a designer on the covers for my Vivienne Series. I had pictures in my mind that looked like cutting-edge advertising, very arty. I showed a creative friend who also happens to work as a web designer (commercial). Through her eyes I was able to see where my “cool” image could easily been read the wrong way. We discussed the plot of each book and she fed me ideas for much more literal images. Part of me mourned the death of edgy but I could see how her ideas clearly let readers know what kind of book each is and a little of what to expect. They will still be cool, but not at the expense of being clear. I love my books and I want to give them a fighting chance to find their audience.
In the next couple weeks I will be rolling out new, more commercial covers for my first two books then the first book in the Vivienne series. I can’t wait to share all of it and my journey to get there. If you’d like to join me behind the scenes and get a FREE copy of Fearless Flying – The Vivienne Series book 1, click here.
And let’s talk. Are you ready for good guys and smart, sexy women? What new story lines are you looking for? Comment below.