What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing On A Bookshelf Like This?
Wow. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that line.
And usually from my own mouth. To myself.
Yes, I admit it, I talk to myself.
As an erotica author in an ultra-conservative world—living as it were, a double life—you can see why I might turn to myself for companionship. Why I might occasionally wonder—why erotica?
The fact of the matter is, I love it. And not just because I get to think about sex all day and research sex all day and Google sex all day and pin sex-a-licious pictures of hot men on my Pinterest page all day—although there are perks.
I’ve written lots of other genres—romance and women’s fiction and sci-fi and fantasy. I am so all over the map that a very successful writer friend once sat me down and said, “Sabrina, dear. Pick one!”
The thought appalled me. I didn’t want to pick one. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my natural life in Regency England wearing gloves up to my elbows and sitting through wretched dinners with overblown Barons who spat in my soup when they sputtered.
I liked visiting, though.
What I really wanted, more than anything, was to write a Regency Romance. And then move on. Maybe a Medieval legend. And then a Viking adventure. And then an epic fantasy. And a mythological fairy tale. A creepy sci-fi or a sexy space opera. A pirate yarn.
Have I mentioned I have ADD?
The problem with being this kind of flibbertigibbet as a writer is that readers have silly little things called expectations. And unmet expectations will KEEL you as a writer. You gotta write what your readers want or they will stop buying your books. There are plenty of other authors out there just panting for the opportunity to please them.
Trust me, I’ve Googled them all.
The fact of the matter is, in the publishing world we are not selling books as much as brand. And to have a brand you have to have an identity, something that consistently satisfies your customer. Brand consistency (in content and quality) on an author’s part will equate to brand loyalty in a customer. If your identity resembles Sybil’s, you may have a problem keeping your customers happy. Folks you beguiled by your sweet soft romance may take umbrage when your heroine shows up in clown makeup with a butcher knife in her hand and starts jabbing your hero.
Sadly, my friend was right. You cannot write all over the map…at least not under the same pen name with the same brand.
Unless you stumble upon the illusive unifying brand.
“What the hell is that?” you may ask, especially if you studied marketing, because it’s a concept I just made up.[i]
A unifying brand is a brand that supersedes and saturates all other brands. It is an element of a product that successfully translates to like products and links the diverse threads. So while I write erotic romance as Sabrina York, I don’t lose my identity if I sneak over to Ellora’s Cave’s Shivers line and write a horrific erotic horror featuring an alien plant with very disturbing reproductive habits…or over to the Aeon line and write my sexy space opera. Readers will follow me. And hey, I may pick up some new readers who like my writing enough to follow me back to Asgard.
Sabrina York is my brand, my identity. Erotica is my unifying brand.
What my readers expect when they buy one of my books is sizzling sex and lots of it. They want twists and turns and characters that are going to make their heart flip-flop and make them get all restless. They want something that’s gonna make them stop reading and hunt down some double A batteries or a man or a kitchen whisk or something.
They don’t care if the action happens in Regency England, on a pirate ship in the Caribbean or on a barren moon in the crab nebula.
So how did a nice girl like me end up on a bookshelf like this?
Because on this bookshelf, I can be everything I want to be, and still be me.
Also, I love to write about sex.
Keep it hot, baby!
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