Monday, September 26, 2011

The Pressure to Produce

In the not to distant past, I joined an online group that allows me to upload my work and connect with my target audience. This should come as no surprise as I’ve discussed it on prior posts and mention it daily on my Twitter feed.

Since joining this group, I’ve posted two of the books in a trilogy I’ve written. Given the subject matter of the novel, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well it’s been received. Not only is the work about the son of Satan, but I’ve made him a sympathetic character. With so much of the western world practicing Christianity, I took the proverbial leap of faith that fans could look past their perception of what they think the story is and give it a real chance before passing judgment. To date, I have 1,293 fans that have been more than willing to do that.

The work, entitled The Unholy Trinity series, has been available since March of this year. Books one and two have already been posted, and I’m pleased to say fans are clamoring for book three. While the largest chunk of my fan base are females aged thirteen to twenty-five, my popularity has been gaining among males as well. I’ve also got quite a few readers who, like me, are parents of teenagers and enjoy reading the works. Each day, another fan is added to my list and it’s all because of these books. In fact, I had one just today send me a message to tell me the books are amazing and she couldn’t stop thinking about the main characters after she finished reading.

As much as I love the praise and validation of my talent, there’s a certain amount of pressure that comes with this sort of popularity. Most of my current fans are panning the vampire series I wrote and asking for something along the vein of The Unholy Trinity series. One fan sent me a message to tell me I made paranormal cool again and to beg me not to write a sellout vampire romance novel.

To be honest, after the completion of the third and final book of The Unholy Trinity series, I’ve been asking myself the now what question. Now what do I do? Now what do I write to make this diverse fan base happy and keep them interested in my work? The question was so perplexing, it kept me up at night. It also kept me from writing. I couldn’t come up with ideas I thought were good enough to follow up the success of The Unholy Trinity series. Even more daunting was the realization of how many well known and more successful authors of late have fallen into that category. Consider the case of Lemony Snickett whose Series of Unfortunate Events novels were wildly popular. Barring the possibility that he’s produced additional works under a pen name, I’ve not seen anything new since the conclusion of that series. While both JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer have written books following the finales of their smashing series’, the books were a spin off of the series. If they’ve written books with new characters, they’ve not achieved the accolades of their original works. That begs the question of how I can do it on a smaller scale if they can’t on a larger scale.

There’s also one other thing I forgot to mention. Paranormal young adult books aren’t my normal genre. Before becoming a young adult author, I wrote chic lit novels more in keeping with Nicholas Sparks or James Patterson. When I made the transition to young adult, it was seamless since I wrote teen lit novels. Like my chic lit novels, the teen lit novels had a time tested formula. Boy and girl meet and fall in love but confront obstacles along the way before living happily ever after. The story of how I then became a paranormal young adult novelist is long and convoluted and best saved for another time. The point is that being that it’s out of my normal comfort zone, I’ve really been challenged to come up with something fans are used to seeing from me and quite frankly deserve after being so supportive.

Rather than force the issue by cranking out something substandard, I’ve let it marinate over the last few weeks. In this process, I’ve been able to come up with a few concepts. Some were not so good but a few of them were quite satisfactory; at least I hope they were. Only time will tell the tale. No pun intended.

This whole experience has been an eye opener for me. Until I became so successful, I never understood the pressure to maintain that success. Since trying and failing so many times to break into the business, my mantra has been give me a chance. Now I’ve had that chance. Now I embrace it to the best of my ability.

Let’s just hope I don’t let my fans down. Let’s hope I live up to the hype.

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