The year was 2017. Romancing the Beat had been out a while, and to my surprise, the little guide was helping a lot of authors. Which was awesome until I tried to write more fiction. I realized that everyone who knew me from RtB would read my romance novels through the lens of what they knew of me as a teacher, reverse engineering my manuscript to find the beats. Talk about pressure to perform! What if I missed a beat? What if everyone hated my books? What if...?
So I changed course. I created an alter ego--the anti-Gwen. I studied the market for content and book packaging and emulated the successful authors. The market in 2017 belonged to a different kind of romance than I was used to, so it was challenging. (Also of note, the three authors I studied the most have all been banned from Amazon. Yikes. Publishing is not for the faint of heart.)
I had a blast! When I didn't think my first book was over-the-top enough, I gave the hero an eye patch to push against the seams a little more. I had my first six figure year last year. And I learned a lot and was able to reinvent my career. I've since had some personal and health issues and have stepped away from fiction for a bit--but the books still sell (though not as well as when I released regularly.)
I learned some great lessons for when I'm ready to go back out there. They are:
Study the market.
Write in series (my standalones went nowhere, really).
Know your tropes and deliver them.
You will never figure Amazon's rules out completely. What they allow for one author, they penalize another for. Play your keywords safely and keep abreast of what they are banning in their advertising. For instance, alpha male is a common character trope (one Amazon itself uses as a category) but if I used the word Alpha in anything, they wouldn't give me AMS ads.)
Take chances. Have fun.
I'm not suggesting that everyone run out and create a secret pen name. I just wanted to share my story with you. So...if you are still reading and still want to know who my secret pen name is...and you understand that these books are catered to a market that is specific and more over the top than say...art... and would win no awards...(It's the Taco Bell of literature. We all know Taco Bell isn't fine dining, healthy, or even authentic--but sometimes that's what we want anyway. Don't be ashamed to offer your readers what they want.) Brill Harper...filthy, sweet. https://books2read.com/ap/8NamJn/Brill-Harper In the picture below, the orange arrow indicates when I first started releasing with new pen name. I have not had a new release since November of 2019. However, my bestselling book is still Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes.
There are still January spots available for Romancing the Beat Outline Critiques. Please keep in mind these are done via email--they only have scheduled times so that I don't overbook myself.