So what do you do to promote yourself when your published work spans three genres (romance, speculative fiction, mystery) and two markets (adult and young adult)? This wasn’t a huge issue when I initially sold my first YA science fiction book, Tankborn, to Lee and Low/Tu Books after publishing adult romances for a dozen years. At that point, I had changed my focus from romance to young adult, and didn’t feel obligated to heavily promo my ten Harlequin books.
But in addition to those Harlequin books, I had the rights back to seven romances and a middle-grade time travel. I finally decided to dip my toe into indie publishing and put the romances and MG book up on Amazon. At that point, I chose to use a pen name for my romances to keep them separate from my children’s books. It was slow going, but I finally had the middle grade book published under Karen Sandler and six of the seven romances up under the pen name Kayla Russo. The seventh book needed some re-write, so it hasn’t yet been published (although it will be soon).
But then something somewhat unexpected happened. I had an unsold mystery novel, Clean Burn, tucked away in my figurative drawer. I found out about a new mystery imprint (Exhibit A, a part of Angry Robot Books) and alerted my agents. Long story short, Clean Burn sold to Exhibit A and will be released August 27, 2013. A second Janelle Watkins mystery will greet the world in Summer 2014.
My predicament clarified in October 2012 during a Novelists, Inc. conference. I had my Karen Sandler Harlequin author identity,my Kayla Russo indie-pubbed romance author identity, I had my Karen Sandler YA author identity, and I was about to have my Karen Sandler mystery author identity. Keeping all those identities juggled, trying to appropriately promote all of them, was madness.
My first step toward simplification was to drop my Kayla Russo identity. My original rationale for creating the pen name had been to separate my sexy adult romances from my teen-safe YA books. But that was silly because there were still those ten sexy Harlequin books for sale with Karen Sandler squarely on their covers. So I killed Kayla Russo off (so to speak) like the next murder victim in a Janelle Watkins mystery novel.
With the same name on all my books, I decided that the variety of genres/markets I offered were a feature, not a bug. Instead of keeping the genres separate, I would promote them side-by-side. Instead of seeing my multi-genre approach as a problem, I used it to brand myself. I am now proudly Genre-Conflicted on my blog, two Twitter identities, and Facebook.
In fact Facebook is where I started this process, with a Karen Sandler Author page. The banner for the page prominently displays book covers from each of the three genres, romance, science fiction, and mystery. Book tabs take the reader to pages where they can purchase any and all of my books at the click of a button.
My webmaster (i.e., husband) and I took the same approach with my website. The landing page features the same three choices–explore my YA SF books, my romances, or my mysteries. The same buy links are available on the book pages for each genre.
There are still a few tweaks needed on the website, but I really like the solution. It’s still a challenge to promote to three different audiences, but having that one-stop-shop takes some of the load off. So for both the focused genre reader and the more omnivorous book lovers who enjoy a variety of story types, I like to think my work offers something for nearly every taste.