The Many Marketing Categories of Your Novel

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Imagine we are in the hallway at a writer’s conference with a group of fellow-writers. We’ve been discussing highlights of the event and throwing out snippets of knowledge. Small incomplete bits that need further information. My post today is a snippet. One I need to understand more fully but thought you might find interesting. Or better yet you might have thorough knowledge and could share in the comments.

Marketing snippet

Here is my factoid about marketing. I’ve noticed it as I complete my second author kit for my upcoming Contemporary Romance. I’ve heard it mention by many publishers. I’m still a bit confused.

Authors define the genre their book falls in before they begin writing. We use that tag to focus our words toward those readers. This is the general category our book would be marketed in. Secrets & Charades is a Romance. More specifically a Historical Romance.

For marketing purposes, it can be placed in a variety of other categories. Because of its faith theme.

  • Christian Fiction
  • Christian Historical Fiction
  • Christian Romance
  • Clean Romance
  • Christian
  • Inspirational
  • Religious

Because of the cowboys:

  • Western Romance
  • American Western Romance

Amazon allows you to list your book under three categories. My understanding (this is where I remind you this is my hearsay in the hall) if you change the listing you could increase your sales. If a historical novel were a secular romance it might be categorized under some additional categories steamy romance, erotic romance, sexy romance.

Some of the categories cross over as far as audience appeal. If a prospective reader loves Historical Romance with lots of heat my novel might not be their cup of tea. But then again, they might love it because the storyline engages them.

My upcoming contemporary romance can be listed under Romance.

And because of its faith theme:

Christian Romance

Inspirational

My hero has a prosthetic leg so we can add Wounded Warrior Romance (yes, it is a thing).

It might even be classified under categories that appeal to dog lovers. My hero has a service dog.

Don’t choose wrong categories

Although we narrow our genre focus while we write our story we want to be sure we are marketing it to as broad a market as possible without missing the mark. My novels are not children’s books or sci fi. Neither contain gratuitous sex. Listing them as erotica will irritate perspective readers. (No need for angry reviews.)

Another example

A YA Sci Fi would be classified under YA fiction

Sci Fi

Fantasy

Dystopian

Again, if it has a Christian theme it might also be listed under Christian Fantasy

Christian Dystopian

Christian Sci Fi

Inspirational and Religious.

If there is a strong romance element it might be listed under YA Romance or Sci Fi Romance.

book genre cloud

Variety of categories draws more readers

Adults could find a YA book in the Sci Fi categories. Adults read YA, by the way. Men might find Secrets & Charades in the Western and my upcoming release in Wounded Warrior.

I’m too new to this publishing biz to have any idea what is the winning category. And some of the categories I mention may not be one anymore. Even so I need to have some alternative genre categories in mind to add in future marketing. And for me I leave the final decision to my publisher and my marketing gal. If your self-pub you might want to ask your successful Indie friends what they would recommend.

Okay readers, any of you have more snippets of information to share about this topic. Curious minds are desperate to know.

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Secrets & Charades book trailer:

An Interview with Jake Marcum Hero of Secrets and Charades

s-c-jakes-quoteSecrets and Charades has a very interesting hero. Jake Marcum, rancher, Civil War veteran and doting uncle. I corralled him long enough to do this interview.

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Well, ma’am, Evangeline insisted it was my turn. Not so sure how interesting I’ll be but go ahead and ask your questions.

Tell us a bit about your childhood.

I had two brothers and a sister. Our family headed west when my Pa got gold fever in ‘49. Our wagon broke down near Ben Mitchell’s place. He talked sense into Pa and taught him all he knew about ranching. Our small spread adjoined Ben’s property.

What happened to your family?

My sister run off with some no count drummer. That’s a traveling salesman. Then Clevis went back to Kentucky to attend college. He wanted to be a lawyer. I’d rather ranch. When the conflict broke out Clevis planned to join the Confederate Army. Pa sent me to Kentucky to bring him home. My older brother persuaded me to join the cause instead. He died six months later. My little brother Robert died from an injury falling off his horse. My Ma had died before I went to get Clevis and Pa died while I was away.

herd of horses

photo by morguefile.com

What was it like when you returned from the war?

Tougher than the battlefield. There was this gal, Nora. I thought we had an understanding. While I was gone, she’d married my brother and expecting their child.   Well, I ain’t proud of my action at the time. Nightmares from the war made me unfit to be around. Ben Mitchell invited me to join his outfit. He helped me dry out and introduced me to the Lord. He’d lost both his sons in the war so he kinda adopted me. I inherited his ranch when he passed. A year later Nora died in childbirth. They buried her newborn son with her. My brother and I were working out our differences when he died. My niece, Juliet come to live with me. She was six. Having her in my life helped heal the rift between Robert and me.

After your conversion, did you still have nightmares?

Sure. God changed me and helped me be a better man. But when the responsibilities of running this spread make me lose sleep—the nightmares come. And worrying about Evangeline coming gave me a few doozies. I still have them. Not as often. I reckon it’s a cross I must bear.

What challenges did you encounter taking over a ranch the size of the Double M?

Yeah. The neighbors looked at me as a gold-digger. But  I think you mention it in your book. Anyway,  Ben was a real Duke or something back in England. He called the ranch the Royal M. I think his surname was something different before he came to America. Anyway, the Double M stands for Mitchell and Marcum.  Several of Ben’s crew have stayed on with me over the years. Cookie Slade was Ben’s old foreman before he got gored by a steer. He stays on helping where he can. Don’t know what I’d do without him. He’s the one who encouraged me to take in Juliet and get me a mail-order bride.Brides71

What were you looking for in a bride?

Let just say, I think God was laughing when I made my request. He knew the kind of wife I needed even if I didn’t.

What was your biggest challenge before Evangeline came into your life?

There were two. Too few cowboys to run the ranch.  My wealthy neighbor kept stealing my men by offering them huge wages. The loyal ones stay. Sides they don’t like that Farley character much. He thinks he’s King of the county.

The second, I had to juggle teaching Juliet to read and cipher around chores. So, her education was sketchy. I felt like I’d betrayed my sister-in-law when I saw how much of a tomboy Juliet was becoming. Nora wanted her daughter to be the bell of the ball, not a ranch hand. So, finding an educated wife to teach my niece was my number priority.

Thanks so much for spending time with my readers.

My pleasure, ma’am.

If you missed my interview with Evangeline, the heroine of Secrets and Charades click here.

Jake and Evangeline’s story Secrets and Charades is available for preorder on Amazon.

secret-charades-front-cover

 

Authors and Book Cover Creation

Creating a cover design is a fascinating process. My publisher provided a questionnaire for me to fill out. It gives the artist clues into my story world. Up until this point I had no idea what I wanted. The questions help get the creative juices flowing. The first few questions are basic: Title, author’s name. taglines, theme.

The next set of questions delves into specifics about the main character. What does your hero look like? Any distinguishing marks? Same questions for your heroine. This is where I get to give a clear description of the physical features of my characters. I had the option of adding photos of my ideas about the characters.

Who do my characters look like

The question about what actor or actress do you see playing them in a movie sent me to the internet to find photos. Did you know if you type in red-haired actresses with green eyes that you’ll find a large selection of photos? Evangeline’s hair is burgundy rather than carrot colored. I already had a picture of a model with burgundy hair but looking at more faces really helped narrow down an idea.

I have pictures of Tom Selleck, John Cusack and Sam Elliot all in cowboy garb that give me a feel for Jake. Evangeline looks a bit like Maureen O’Hara or Lori Loughlin (she’d have to dye her hair.)  I found a wonderful picture of Emma Stone. So I am adding photos of these actors to the form.

A fun exercise for you and your story, search the character description: cowboy, regency, blond soldier sees what comes up. If you’re a plotter and an outliner, you have probably already picked out your pictures before you started writing. What you want on the cover may be clearly define in your head. But, if you’re like me and lack artist know-how, you’ll be relying on the designer to bring your idea to reality. FYI: The publisher usually gets the final say on your cover. This is a good thing because they know what sells.

More details

I couldn’t find a picture of my ranch so I settled for writing a description. I got to choose whether I want people on the cover or a landscape. There is lots of room at the bottom of the form for more notes to further clarify.

Note all the covers of fellow-authors I’ve added to this post so you can get a better idea of cover design.

HerDeadlyInheritanceColor-2

Mystery Cover

 

Mercy Rains

Historical landscape cover

Genre and time period are important questions as well. Secrets & Charades is set in 1870s so costumes on the cover need to resemble the period. The hoop skirt was no longer in fashion but bustles were popular.

hand of adonai smaller

Fantasy Cover

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Police thriller/ fantasy cover

A fantasy cover might have someone dressed like Star Wars characters. The focus might be on an object that is key to the story line. Perhaps a space ship, a sword or a dragon take center stage in the story.

Comparing covers

There is a place on this form to add comparables. So, books with similar themes (remember that part in your proposal?) can now be used as examples. Those covers show what’s selling.

 

Not good ideas

If the hero is very tall, then he shouldn’t be the same height as the heroine on the cover. Unless of course she is very tall, too. I actually saw this on a cover. Until I read the story I didn’t realize the hero was well over six feet tall. Once I knew this, the cover was a bit disappointing.

If the story takes places in the winter in Florida, it will look different than winter in Alaska. That also goes for trees not native to the area. This will date me, but the movie Wayne’s World was supposed to take place in Aurora, Illinois. One scene in the movie had palm trees in the background. I suppose comedies can get away with that. Book covers not so much.

If your genre is horror you wouldn’t want a sunny sky.

A romance—unless it has vampires or some violent fantasy theme—is not going to have blood and gore on the cover.

Capturing emotion

The form asked me to describe the tone, mood, and attitude. One or two word descriptions can make a big difference in helping the designer get a taste of my fiction world. I had to google these terms to get a deeper understanding of the literary significance. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer so I don’t always have a tone or mood in mind until my characters speak to me.

Defining the tone and mood can make a difference in a novel’s content so it should reflect on the cover. A romantic comedy design is going to look different from a romance with a broken-promise-restored theme. The same with a thriller with a sullen cast of characters versus one with a hopeful mood.

Photo sites give lots of options

You may prefer symbols or settings for your cover. My fellow-writer Gloria Doty has a modern-day cowboy romance series. She opted for boots and a Stetson on the cover of Bringing  a Cowboy Home. She wanted her readers to enjoy their own images of her characters. Photo websites have lots of these sorts of images.

51ZRZe74RBL

Publishers purchase the cover art and, if you self-publish, you’d do the same. Linda Yezak has a great cover for The Final Ride. She created it herself using pictures of a model she found online. She purchased the rights to use her likeness. This helped her create her cover.51jgIj4jqfL

Being sure your cover reflects your story means more sales. So, I am taking extra time to fill out this form. Hopefully the designer will get me. If the cover catches the reader’s eye, then they will pick it up. If you’re self-publishing, spend the money on a quality cover. I can’t wait to see what my cover will look like. I’ve been impressed with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas cover designs. The reveal of my design is some months away. But the process begins now.

The back cover is just as important as the front cover. I’ll talk about the process in the next post.

Anyone like to share their experience with cover designs?

 

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Bring A Cowboy Home Giveaway and Interview with Author Gloria Doty

Gloria Doty pic-3I found another book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I received an advanced copy of Bring A Cowboy Home to review. I love a good December romance and this is better than good. Gloria Doty has two non-fiction books to her credit Not Different Enough and A Bouquet of Devotions this is her first novel. I’ve ask her to come and talk about Bring a Cowboy Home and tell us her creative process. It will be coming out on February 11th. Here’s a bit about the book from the back cover.

Relationships are never easy, especially when everything seems to be conspiring against you.

Louisa Crowder is a successful businesswoman from Chicago. When she meets Cal Frasier, a handsome rancher from Magnolia, Texas, it feels like someone’s lit a match on a forest fire. The only problem: Everything seems to stand in their way.

With the opinions and objections of their adult children, their totally different lifestyles, secrets from their pasts, and their completely opposite views of their faith in Jesus Christ, can Louisa and Cal fan the flames and find happiness, or are their obstacles too insurmountable to overcome?-bpfbt bring a cowboy home-res

By the way I love those boots, Gloria. Take a seat at the kitchen table while I steep some Chocolate Chia Tea. Help yourself to a Blueberry Danish.

After reading Bring a Cowboy Home I have a few questions I am dying to ask.

Why a romance between a couple as I like to refer to them circling 60? Most romance focus on couples somewhere between 20 and 40 years old.

I thought with the millions of ‘baby boomers’ in our society, perhaps they were tired of reading about the young and beautiful people. Perhaps they would enjoy reading about a romance that is a ‘second chance at love.’ Many people have the mistaken idea that once a person is 50, 60, 70, 80 or beyond, they don’t need love or romance any longer. Nothing could be further from the truth. My characters are healthy, viable, sexual people.

You live in Fort Wayne Indiana but you settings are Texas and Illinois. You actually put Lucy (Louisa) in a home in Batavia, Illinois. That’s the next town over from Aurora where I live. Why there? And how did you research these two places to get the geography right?

With Lucy’s business, she had to be in a large city. Chicago is the closest to me. It also has a reputation for dishonest, unscrupulous government. My sister and her husband live in Batavia and we have had many discussions about the perfectly good houses that are torn down to build a new and larger one.

My daughter and family live in Cypress, Texas. It is close to Magnolia, Tomball, Montgomery and Spring, Texas. I have enjoyed visiting these towns when I visit my daughter, so I used them in the story.

How long did it take for the idea for this story to grow into a novel?

The idea formed in my head on the way home from a writers’ meeting, where I was a guest. I went home and began the story. I knew the end line before I filled in the rest of it. I wrote it in 3 weeks. I fell in love with my characters and their lives, so I continued the story for 2 more novels. They were written over a short time, also.

Lucy refers to Cal as Marshal reminiscent of the old Gunsmoke TV show. In your mind does Cal look like James Arness ( the actor who played Marshall Dillon) or someone else?

No, not James Arness. In my head he looks like Dylan Neal who plays Jack on Hallmark’s Cedar Cove. I purposely asked the cover designer to NOT use ‘people pictures’ on the covers because I want each reader to visualize Cal and Lucy and Ben and the others, for themselves.

Cal didn’t look like Dylan Neal in my head, nor Marshall Dillon. You’re right, readers see the characters in the head much differently than the author does. 🙂

Tell me how you decided on the character traits of Lucy and Cal and why those particular characteristics?

With the exception of being wealthy, Lucy is a lot like me. Obstinate, headstrong, impetuous and has an “I can take care of myself’ attitude. Cal needed to be someone I could fall in love with…and I did. Too bad he isn’t real. He is patient, loving, and still, a man’s man.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Actually, maybe a bit of both. I like to works a scene out in my head to see if it feels right, but sometimes, my characters have a tendency to go off on their own.

What do you hope readers will take away with them after journeying with Lucy and Cal?

I sincerely hope they will realize there is no age limit on falling in love or on romance. People can be faced with many situations, but their love for each other will remain strong. Cal and Lucy do pray a lot together, also. I didn’t want the Christianity to hit people over the head; I wanted it to be evident that prayer can be an integral part of a relationship.

I know you have two more books planned in the series. Are Cal and Lucy still the main characters or do you share someone else’s story?

Cal and Lucy continue with their lives in the next two books. They face many things that typical people struggle with every day. Many of those things involve their adult children and grandchildren. These books are already written and with the publisher. The second one comes out in June and the third one in the fall.

I’m already looking forward to reading them.

Now, it’s time to ask the question I usual ask all the authors I interview. What is one tip you would give to a new novelists?

You can write about anything but make certain it is something or some character you feel a kinship with. It will be easier to describe their feelings and thoughts if you are ‘there’ so to speak. Also, find people who know the facts about an item or circumstance, if you don’t. I asked a friend who is very knowledgeable about guns for his expertise on the revolver Lucy carries. He told me what kind, as it was given to her by her grandfather, and what it was capable of doing. I found a person who works with EMTs to send me copies of the exact words an EMT would say to a mother about to give birth at home. (Second book) Even though you may be writing fiction, it still needs to be believable.

A Giveaway

Gloria will be giving away both and e-book and a paperback copy of Bring A Cowboy Home. Just request to be put in the drawing in the comments here or on my Facebook page. Winners will be announced on Friday. Don’t forget you can purchase a copy after February 11th. It’s already available on Amazon in e-book. Pass on this blog in social media and comment that you did and receive an additional chance to win.

More About Gloria

Gloria Doty is a Christian author, freelance writer, blogger and speaker. She has written articles for many magazines and is a regular contributor to a quarterly devotional. Her non-fiction book, Not Different Enough, was published in 2014 and was awarded the Writer of the Year award by the WTP Writer’s Conference. It is the transparent telling of the first thirty years of life with her daughter with autism, Asperger’s and intellectual disabilities. Gloria and her sister co-authored A Bouquet of Devotions, published in 2015.

Bring a Cowboy Home is her first fiction romance novel. Her love of Texas and the towns included in the book were her inspiration. Gloria has five children and thirteen grandchildren. She writes from her home in Fort Wayne, IN.

Contact Info: Gloria Doty

gloriadotywriter@gmail.com

http://www.writingbygloria.com/ blog on this site: Montage Moments

http://www.gettingitright-occasionally.blogspot.com/ Blog about life with my daughter, Kalisha

https://www.facebook.com/gloriadotywriter?ref=hl

https://twitter.com/detour27

http://www.pinterest.com/doty7843/

http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/doty7843/likes

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=134328377&trk=spm_pic

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/21914726-gloria-doty

 

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