Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Guest Post by Brianna Salera

I have a confession. I’m not Brianna Salera. I don’t even play one on TV. I do, however, write using that name and just published Brianna’s first book, Tessa’sEscape to Athena’s Ground, which is now free on Amazon. Why would I do that when I’ve got well-reviewed books under my real name?

I’m gonna blame Brianna on Joe.

My “real” books are genre reads that are well-written and professionally edited. They’ve gotten very good reviews (yes, even by a goodly number of people I’ve never met.) I’m proud of those books, and plan to do more.  The frustration is sales: the first one has sold from good to not so good, with the past six months being horrifically not so good. The second has sold well enough to take the family to Mickey D’s for a happy meal. 

Maybe twice.

I was 30,000 words into Book Number Three and plotting ways to address my woeful sales when I started hearing voices, well, a voice. It was the voice of Joe Konrath and he was singing one of his favorite songs: When One Thing Doesn’t Work, Try Another. I tried to ignore it. I put my fingers in my ears and sang “la la la la la, I can’t hear you.” But I could. Loud and clear.

A very long time ago, back in the day when covers had to be hidden because eReaders didn’t exist, I got hooked on historical ‘bodice rippers’.  My attraction to exposed breasts and giant ‘members’ died after a year or two, but I fondly remember how much fun they were to read and I wondered if they’d be as much fun to write. Joe’s Try Something Else siren song and the devil on my shoulder had me loading up my Kindle with contemporary erotic romances. I read, and acquainted myself with the heaving bosoms and throbbing members of today’s literary scene. Those books were fast and fun and I was only a little surprised when my own contemporary, not historical, storyline grew almost as quickly as this genre reader’s libido.

So I wrote it.

Now I had a little problem. I think my book is pretty good, for those who like erotic romance. But I’m a fairly conservative girl, and I embarrass easily. More importantly, I’m a professional with a serious job and I’d be incredibly uncomfortable if my day job coworkers and employer knew I wrote erotic contemporary romances. So I did what any brave writer would do, what some of you have already done, what Joe’s song inspired me to do: I published under a fake name.

I learned some interesting things with this little experiment.

A rose by any other name…the name on the cover was the only fake thing about writing Tessa’s Escape to Athena’s Ground. The book required attention to all the things we writers strive for: creative plot well-presented, interesting characters, proper pace, engaging voice, grammatical and structural competence, etc. Yes, Brianna’s name on the cover will spare me problems at work and embarrassment at the family dinner table. (“Hey Gram! Tell me about your new book, the one Mom won’t let me read.”) But it didn’t spare me the work any writing involves, whether one’s real name is on the cover or not. (Confession Number Two: the research for this one was a whole lot more fun than the research for my other books.)

Location, location, location…when starting in a new genre, reading a lot in that genre is essential, and so is knowing how to categorize your new book at Amazon. I chose Romance-erotic and Romance-contemporary after sampling other books in those categories. Did I pick the right online locations for Tessa’s Escape? I don’t know. Part of this trying-something-new business is making your best decision and being willing to change if it doesn’t work.

Girls just wanna have fun…while I’m proudest of my “real” books, writing hot romance was so much fun I could hardly tear myself away from the computer. This makes me wonder: does this mean my “real” books are the wrong genre for me? Should delight in the process of writing dictate what one writes? I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m sure thinking about it in a way I hadn’t before.

Joe’s blog has given me a lot to think about over the years. My biggest blog takeaway is to try something different when things seem stuck (refuse to give up!)  What’s your Number One Takeaway from Joe’s Blog? And how have you used it?

If you enjoy erotic romance please check out Tessa’s Escape to Athena’s Ground, by me, not really Brianna Salera. It’s currently on KDP promo, free at Amazon through September 21st.  If Tessa does even a little better than nothing, I’ll probably write another in the Athena’s Ground series. It’s just too damn much fun, it keeps Joe’s song down to a dull roar, and I already have a new character bouncing around in my head, begging for a shot at Athena’s Ground.

But first I must get back to my “real” writing. I’m going to finish Book Number Three before Christmas, or my name isn’t Brianna Salera.

Joe sez: Pick up Tessa's Escape. It's free.

My #1 takeway from my blog is the comments and guest bloggers. I'm constantly learning from other people, and upping my game because of it. Thanks for the blog post, Brianna, and for the free book.