IT IS NEVER A BAD IDEA TO ESTABLISH YOURSELF AND A READERSHIP BEFORE GOING OFF THE DEEP END AND DABBLING YOUR TOES IN NEW WATERS.
Having said that, the influx of indie publishing, hybrid authors (similar to supersweet corn only not as crunchy!) cross-readerships and multiple venues has changed the rules, virtually giving you a #nolimits opportunity.
This is a good thing for authors. And because I'm the kind of gal who bends rules often, I see nothing but potential by writing historicals like "Red Kettle Christmas", "A Town Called Christmas", "Prairie Promises" and my newest one "His Beloved Bride". However, before you jump in the water of both ponds, it's good to note these tips:
1. Readers do not like to be misled.
2. If you've ever gotten a less-than-stellar review, you know that readers have opinions.
3. Readers voice opinions.
4. Historical readers and lovers of history are more likely to hunt for and cite errors.
5. These errors are not necessarily errors.
6. There are certain rules that make certain eras difficult. I avoid those.
7. Pioneer romance has wide parameters because there was little recorded on paper at the time. Basic rules apply. Know when they used motors. When they didn't.
8. Colonial rules are similar but a little tighter, because the colonists were in well-developed enclaves/towns/cities fairly quickly.
9. I went to the Mary Connealy school of clothing. I don't try to name it all, half these women had two dresses, one for good, one for work. Pick a calico or color, easy peasy.
10. Early railroad lines in the Midwest and West often criss-crossed and became obsolete early on, so the development of the railroad in certain areas left some interesting ambiguity. I like to use that to my advantage!
11. Ten rules are enough, for pity's sake, it's SPEEDBO month, I don't want to bore you. If I already have, then please accept my abject and sincere apologies, but I am giving away four
"With This Kiss" collections today (to be delivered via Kindle to your device 4/10) so cut me a little slack, okay??? Geez, Louise. :)
I thought writing historicals would be too hard.
I thought I wouldn't have time to do proper research.
I was wrong. There's this amazing thing called the Internet. Oh mylanta, what a nice invention. That + Life = Possible Usable Information.
I realized that my bootstraps-style farm life actually lends itself to understanding many points of pioneer life. My daughter pointed out that I DRAGGED my children to historic museums, that I loved reading them Little House on the Prairie (until they were old enough to read them themselves) and that Sarah, Plain and Tall is one of my favorite books, right up there with Little Women, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Crucible and To Kill a Mockingbird. She also noted that we've traversed all of Independence Park in Philly (and pretended we were colonists, well, I pretended. The kids tried to hide any and all relationship to me but I had the money so in the end they had to come home with me.) We've explored Valley Forge. We've even had weddings at the Genesee Country Village and Museum.
In short, my pleasure reading/work/child rearing was preparing me for writing historicals with characters, places and settings I love.
So was it a natural jump from contemporary stories to old-time romance? NOT AT FIRST.
I was scared! But of course I did not admit that, I just plowed in and did it.
And when that story came out so well... When I lived to breathe again!!! When I took a critical look at "Red Kettle Christmas" and decided it was an absolutely delightful book, I was hooked!
|Four generations of Blodgetts: Beth, Grandma (holding Elijah) Grandpa, Dave|
History starts right here, doesn't it?
I already had an established readership for my contemporary stories. Would they enjoy historicals?
If they didn't, (back to the list of ten above) I was pretty darn sure I'd hear about it, LOL!
I believe in branding to a point. Which means, yes, grab your "brand" (cowboy stories, medical thrillers, Amish, contemporary romance, etc.) but don't be afraid to stretch your brand.
My brand is "Hearth and Home Romance".
I didn't put time limits on it, and neither do my readers! "Hearth and Home" gives me latitude, and pushy gals like me like some latitude.
So do you have to choose? I think initially you need to build a readership, an audience, but I also think that if you're working in a more generic "brand" like the one I picked, golly gee whillikers.
GO FOR IT.
Years ago New York Times bestselling author Karen White told me to write in as many genres as I wanted until I sold. And then to focus on that genre while building my platform.
I took that advice and ran with it because it makes sense. Build your base... then expand. These words of wisdom have worked for Karen and others, and I'm not all about re-inventing the wheel if copying someone's brilliant success seems like the way to go.
Thank you, Karen!
Okay, coffee's on, my friends! And I brought along cheese-stuffed blintzes with triple berry topping and whipped cream. I refuse to get plump alone!
Come on in, leave a comment and tell me what you're writing... and what you'd like to write. I might make fun of you (says Ruthy who has an Amish trilogy waiting to be finished AND a fantasy she can't wait to work on next winter...) or I might be all fun and nice and supportive, you know. Like a good friend would be.
In any case, I'm throwing your names into the cat dish for 2 copies of THIS DELIGHTFUL CONTEMPORARY COLLECTION:
THIS EQUALLY DELIGHTFUL HISTORY-HUGGING COLLECTION!!!
Both collections feature five (5) wonderful, heartfelt stories written by a collection of multi-published, award-winning, best-selling authors.... and we've given them a reader-friendly price of $2.99 because yes....
I want some of Mary's readers.
Etcetera. And if we can get our work into people's hands at a reasonable price like this, I'm all over that idea! See you inside!
Ruthy Logan Herne loves to write sweet romances filled with faith, family and fun, well, once they fix all the dysfunctional family stuff! She lives in upstate NY with way too many chickens, fresh eggs, lots of little kids and a couple of black bears that seem to find her farm intriguing. Visit her website http://ruthloganherne.com or find her on facebook where she loves to market her books by exploiting other people's children and small, cute animals!