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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Author Insight: Branching Out vs. Branding

How big a role do feel being a diverse writer plays in an author staying in the publishing industry given the uncertain climate? Do you feel pressured to branch out?

"As a gay white male writer, I always feel confused by questions about diversity. I mean, am I diverse? Only a little? I think that in general, having a platform or something that makes you singular is helpful in the publishing industry. But mostly I think the writers who make it are those who have something to say and a unique way of saying it. And that isn’t so much about diversity as it is about talent." - Bill Konigsberg, author of Openly Straight

"Actually, if an author has a successful sub-genre of books, I think there is immense pressure not to branch out. Most of the authors I know--myself included--want to branch out and get pressure from their publishers to maintain what's working. Branching out is considered a risk." - Aprilynne Pike, author of Life After Theft and Earthbound.

"We’re still pretty new at the novel game, but in my experience as a writer, your style is your calling card. You get more consistent work if you’re reliable s an expert on one thing. Getting the opportunity to break out from being pigeonholed seems like a luxury to me." - Lex Hrabe , co-author of Quarantine: The Loners

"No, I don’t feel pressured. I think it’s more a matter of being ready to roll with the punches if and when they come. If you feel readers suddenly want more digital content, then be ready to do that. Do they want a thriller from you versus a para-romance? Give it a shot." - Victoria Scott, author of The Collector.

"I think it can go both ways, and more often writers are pressured to continue writing the same type of book, same genre, same age group target. I think there is more pressure to do that and not to experiment. Having two or more publishing houses and help with that for the writer." -  Nora Raleigh Baskin, author of Surfacing.

"By being a diverse writer, do you mean writing for different age groups or genres? I’m early in my career and my current project – the Slated trilogy – is all encompassing. So even if I felt that it would be a good idea to, for example, write a scary series for 9 year olds (I have a fab idea for this!), I don’t have time. Also I’ve found out the hard way that I’m not very good at trying to write more than one story at a time. It is too hard to be in that many worlds in your head at once. Perhaps most importantly, I can’t write a story I don’t feel driven to write: it just doesn’t work. So it might be that next year everyone is clamouring for stories about living in trees, but I’ve never felt a great affinity for tree houses. So I’d probably give it a miss." - Teri Terry, author of Slated

"I think being diverse is good up to a certain point. I personally feel I haven’t yet found my niche in the publishing world—though I launched with modern YA sci-fi/fantasy, my newer stuff has been for younger audiences, more action-adventure-y. If those new books do well, it might be a good idea to brand myself that way, at which point I wouldn’t want to stray too far from what readers would expect from me. I don’t feel pressured to branch out so much as I feel I still need to claim my ground in the vast field of children’s publishing." - Jeff Sampson, author of  Ravage

"I don't feel pressure from the industry to branch out, but to brand myself. Cultivate a fan base and give them what they want, right? But sometimes readers don't know what they want! So I try to ignore the industry pressures and write what I want to read, in the hope that readers will find my fiction compelling." - A.B. Westrick, author of Brotherhood

"Not at all. I write about what's exciting and interesting to me. If I wrote about something completely different just for the sake of being different, I wouldn't be into it and neither would my readers." - Molly McAdams, author of Taking Chances

"I'm still relatively new to all of this, so perhaps my answer is a bit naive. But I think that the best stories are the ones you really want to write. So, unless you feel the urge to write a whole bunch of different things, then why not stick with what you love until you have to move on to something else?" - Stacey Kade, author of The Ghost & the Goth and The Rules

"Quite the contrary. I feel there is pressure to conform to a personal “brand” so that readers always know what flavor to expect when they pick up your book. My first published work is YA dark psychological. By nature I am a diverse storyteller, with unpublished inventory in middle grade and YA boy sci-fi and tween girl political thrillers; I often wonder what will become of these other children of my imagination." - Liz Coley, author of Pretty Girl-13. 

"The only pressure I feel is to write the stories that want to be written. It goes along with my mantra of being an honest writer. I think so many writers simply have so many stories in them that they can't help but branch out into diverse genres and age groups. I definitely work that way. In this climate, it's nice, but I also do think it's still possible to brand oneself a certain way and keep writing a specific kind of story or particular genre successfully." - Kristin Halbrook, author of Nobody But Us. 

"I’ve decided to be a tree, with my roots firmly planted in YA. I’m not really interested in going anywhere else in the publishing industry at the moment." - Robyn Schneider, author of The Begining of Everything.

Come back Thursday to see if the other authors feel pressure to branch out.

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