There are times when you have to face facts. I think I’m at that fork in the road. After writing five Finley Anderson Tanner mysteries, I have to face the fact that funny just isn’t selling. That’s a shame because I like funny. But I also like being employed.
As much as we’d all like to think we’re bulletproof, the reality is the market does have an impact on the writer’s career choices. My best shot is to switch back to my roots. Well, maybe not totally, I wrote romantic suspense for almost 15 years but now I’m thinking darker. Much darker. Seriously dark. Why? Because it’s part of my skill set.
That’s the smart way to deal with a changing marketplace. You can’t just jump on a trend. You have to find some new outlet that plays on your strengths. Serial killers are part of my skill set. So I’m working on a dark thriller now.
And I can promise you, it isn’t like riding a bike. The pacing is different. The structure is different. The resolution is different. The language is different. And the body count can be high. You almost have to relearn the process. I’m so accustomed to going for the joke; I’m having a hard time quelling that inclination. Then again, I suffer from a serious case of gallows humor, so I can find the funny in everything. This means I have one finger on the delete key at all times.
This also brings up a new issue. To pseudonym issue. How to deal with the reader expectation of a
Rhonda Pollero book. Imagine you’re a Finley fan and you happen upon a new work that is a complete departure. Then what? You annoy some readers. I’ve written under a pseudonym and I didn’t like it. It’s weird when people call you by a fake name. It’s even stranger when you’re at a function wearing a name badge with your totally fake name printed on it.
When I switched from Kelsey Roberts to Rhonda Pollero most people thought Kelsey was my real name and Rhonda was the pseudonym. They had that one backward. And with the internet, it isn’t like you can keep a pseudonym secret. Google either name and you will eventually find a reference letting you know Rhonda and Kelsey are the same person.
But I digress. Changing with the market is never easy but it is the key to staying employed. When the bottom fell out of the historical romance market, a lot of authors switched to contemporaries. With the vampire craze coming to an end, there seems to be more dystopia popping up across the board. Dystopia wasn’t an option for me – not in my skill set. Neither is steampunk and while that may be an emerging market, again, not part of my skill set.
So what do you do when your market dwindles? Figure out what else fits your voice and give that a try. You never know.