There's an interesting conversation still going on over at Dear Author about mislabeling novels as romance, and how that hurts the author. This is a subject near and dear to me, considering HB. I'd written that as a sexy, funny urban fantasy, but it was published as a paranormal romance novel. Granted, the boundaries between the two genres are blurring--a lot--and I definitely understand (and agree with) why HB is considered paranormal romance. But given how I am now a Paranormal Romance Author, and my background is in fantasy instead of romance, I've been reading tons of paranormal romance novels to get a better understanding of the genre in which my work has been categorized. (And hey, if anyone has recommendations on what books I absolutely must read, please let me know.)
Shock: the paranormal romance genre (like, cough, every other genre) has its own set of rules--rules, not guidelines--that set this category off from others. Now I know what an HEA is (that's "happily ever after," for the uninitiated; basically, the hero and the heroine overcome all to, you know, come together in that lurvin kind of way by story's end). And I'm keeping in mind the whole "alpha hero" thing as I write the next books in the series. (Chris Moore's A Dirty Job aside--and hell, that sure ain't romance--it seems like beta males aren't the big winners in romance novels. Huh. No wonder in There's Something About Mary, Ben Stiller walked away, sobbing like a girly girl. Wait, that was tagged as a "love story," not a "romance." Oy. My head, she's spinning. Insert primal scream here!)
But it's clear to me that no matter what genre an author is published in, there's a misconception out there that all authors have control over how their books are going to be marketed. This has prompted me to come up with a list of publishing misconceptions.
DISCLAIMER: This is my opinion. It's possible I'm wrong. Just don't tell Loving Husband -- once I admit that I can be wrong about anything, there goes the entire dynamic of our loving relationship. Yes, that's my whip in the corner--why do you ask?
TOP TEN PUBLISHING MISCONCEPTIONS (According to Jackie)
10. The author has a say in how the book is marketed/categorized/shelved in the bookstores.
Maybe more established authors do have a say. Speaking as a debut author, one who's green but learning more and more every day, this just ain't the case. My editor told me that HB would be part of the Zebra Books imprint, which they were expanding to include paranormal romance. My fellow Kensington Succubus Diva, Richelle Mead, however, will have her book published by the imprint Kensington Books as an urban fantasy. (Richelle and I have since figured out why this is the case. Nope, not telling. Read HB and her Succubus Blues, then you'll figure it out too.) At the time, I didn't care what HB was categorized as--hell, my publisher could have called it "broccoli," and I would have been happy.
9. The author has a say in the cover art.
Nope, not me. Yes, my editor asked me for my cover art ideas, which he then passed along to the art department. But I found out about my final cover design when I got the cover flats in the mail. Done deal. I guess I could have pushed back if something really, really bothered me (nothing did), but I've also heard how that's basically a losing battle. Nora Roberts has said she has cover approval. Maybe once I have like 600 books to my name, I'll have cover approval too.
8. The author picks the final title.
Sure, we may come up with the original title--but that doesn't mean it's going to stay. Yes, I came up with "Hell's Belles," and all the titles in the Hell on Earth series. And I'm thrilled that Kensington decided to keep the titles. I truly believe they are perfect for the books. (Of course, there are ramifications to this decision; not all sellers are happy having books on their shelves with the nasty, icky word "hell" in the title.)
7. The author has any control over where in the bookstore the book will appear.
You know that big table of books you see when you first walk into a chain bookstore? The publisher pays for placement there. The author has nothing to do with that. Nor does the author control whether her books on the shelves will be spine out or cover out. Some people have told me that they've seen HB get nice treatment in some stores--face out, end cap, etc. All I've personally seen is two copies in the romance section, spine out. But hey: I'm thrilled my book is in the store at all!
6. The author has any control over how many copies will be published.
Nope. None. When I heard that HB would have a press run of 14,000 copies, my initial thought was, "But I don't know 14,000 people!" Heh.
5. All the author has to do is write.
Sure, this could be true, I suppose. But not if you're a debut author whose book is not a lead title. Yes, writing the next book--the next bigger, better book--is the top concern; without that, there's little point to all the rest. But if you think that all authors should do is "shut up and write," you're mistaken. I've been working my hiney off (although it keeps reappearing, like magic, even bigger) to promote HB: submitting the book for online reviews, networking, going to bookstores to talk up the book, signings, readings, interviews, websites, blogging, AuthorBuzzing, getting swag made and distributed, selling my soul (er, no, not that last one). Especially considering that some authors (hi there) are naturally shy and blush mightily in public, learning how to self-promote is a huge thing.
4. The author doesn't have a day job/family/life outside of writing.
3. The author doesn't give a damn what readers think.
Not true. I do. I welcome feedback, both the warm and fuzzy "you're the best writer ever" kind and the "I had a problem with this here part" kind. Yeah, I prefer the former. But the latter is equally as important to me. I know, we can't please everyone. But we try.
2. The author will go on a multi-city book tour.
The only "book tour" I'm doing includes two local independent bookstores, a workshop for my local RWA chapter, and a reading at my college alma mater bookstore. (All of which was arranged by me, not my publisher.) Yes, I'll be signing and whatnot at the Romantic Times Convention, but in terms of me traveling from city to city, blithely signing books? Er. Not so much.
1. Once the book is on the shelves, the author stops worrying about it.
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I'm a freaking basket case. Oh wait--that has nothing to do with publishing. Whew!