Sunday Scribbles: There must be a formula...right? - Melissa Schroeder

Sunday Scribbles: There must be a formula…right?

Yesterday I had a well-meaning person (you can’t hear my voice so I will add sarcastic tone here) tell me I should rename my blog and not have a warning on it. First off, I have to have a warning or could get reported for content. It is one thing I am fixing on my new site by moving to wordpress. But for now, I leave it. I put half naked men and naughty excerpts up and I don’t want to get reported. The name of my blog, uh, yes, I have had that name for about 5 or so years, so I guess I should change it, right? (eye roll). The author might have been well meaning with his advice, but I have a feeling he didn’t check me out. With his one published book to my forty something, yeah, I lost count again, he was giving me advice he had heard. I have run into this before in the 11 years I have been writing romance. Everyone thinks there is a FORMULA. Sadly, I don’t think there is one way to succeed. Of course, that gives you more options, but it also makes you have to work harder.
The first time I experienced this was at my second RWA which was NY 2003. My first RWA was Denver and all of you who were at that one knows what I mean when I say it is amazing I showed back up at another one. Talk about a PITA conference. It should have told me I was never going to be cut out for the RWA and all their nonsense. But I digress as usual, lol.
I was with a really good friend of mine who wanted to make it in Category. For those of you not in romance, that–at the time–was considered Harlequin. Digital publishing has blurred the lines recently. Desire was her favorite line I believe and she really wanted to make it. I am not saying that in a snarky way at all. I have no problem with Harlequin, other than what they pay for digital rights and the fact that they have a long history of slipping things into contracts, ie HQN first look clauses in 2004. I think you should write for what makes you happy because people will feel it when they read your work. Anyway, she told me that Desires had, according to those in the know, 2.5 love  scenes per book. Now, this has always made me giggle. I mean, who has been left unfulfilled? lol Still it shows you something. People try to boil this down to a scientific formula. And believe me, I was in the group for awhile. Sometimes, those things work. Sometimes they don’t. That’s the way this game is played. And, with the changes in publishing in the last few years, those rules really don’t apply.
I floundered a few years ago while I tried to jump through hoops. Had to write a paranormal because they were big, and I had to change this and that and I couldn’t be too erotic because people are sick of that. The market is bored with erotic and it will never sell. Oh, sure, you’re successful with your Harmless series, but that was a fluke. And besides, Harmless has run it’s course. (I heard this more than once from other authors and publishers)
Listen up, because I am sick of telling people this. The best way to become a success is to have consistent releases that are appealing to your core base of readers while pulling in new ones. That’s it. Sure, you can do other things, and those help. But no matter what your blog is called–or if it has a warning or not–no matter how many friends you have review you, tag your product, or how much promo you do, if you do not have consistent releases of the best quality YOU can offer, no formula is going to make you succeed. Nothing. There is no mad scientist method to becoming a success. There are flukes in the business, but you will notice those people don’t always have long careers, or they fade.
If I worried about the formula, I would have given up years ago. When I started out, you had to be a NY published author with an agent and writing mainstream romance to be a success in the business. NY shunned me, I lost my agent, and well, my most successful series is erotic with most books firmly placed in the BDSM category. I no longer write to a market. I gave that up. Do I look at my best selling books and decide what to do? Of course. I’m not an idiot. But, I no longer look at articles that tell me what NY publishers think will be the NEXT BIG THING. There have been so many NEXT BIG THINGS, that I have lost count. And while I read articles about promotion, I do not look at every article as the holy grail.
Write. It is the only way you are going to get published and keep getting published. And write the best you can. There’s a formula everyone can handle. Oh, and remember, don’t give up. The only reason I succeeded is because I am a hard-headed bitch who refused to quit. I am kind of annoying that way.


Categories: Self Publishing

One Comment on “Sunday Scribbles: There must be a formula…right?

  1. Sweet Melissa,
    I’m late as always, and I just had to post and make a comment after reading this post.
    Shame on the author of “said” post as he evidently has a bit of jealousy, and envy going on….*S*
    I personally love you as you are as do many of your fans, and have no doubt that you have the perfect magic that makes you who you are. I am definitely older than you, but know a great young woman who has a special gift that brings many readers countless hours of endless reading joy. It’s your craft…your miracle or whatever anyone wants to call it, and you just keep doing what your doing as it works….lol
    PPsshaw…to the individual who posted what he did as he needs to learn that it comes only when you’ve got it, and it takes time and hard work as it has done for you…*S*
    Wishing you & yours a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!



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