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Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Can You Write Chick Lit Without Romance?

I'm writing my fifth book at the moment - my second chick lit novel - and a funny thought has struck me.

Can you write chick lit without romance?

It's funny this thought should strike me now and not when I was penning A Step Too Far because that wasn't a love story. Yes, it had some romantic themes and even a potential love triangle but the overall story wasn't a quest to find love. It was a quest to find a fulfilling life.

I guess I'm thinking about this topic now because A Second Time Around is more of a romantic comedy than my first chick lit book. It will still have a twist at the end like my other novel but the theme is definitely romance.

The only gripe I have with chick lit is too many stories are the same. That may sound funny as it's the genre I have chosen to write, but I deliberately didn't make A Step Too Far overly romantic. I wanted to write a book which I believed to be chick lit because it's written in first person and in a light hearted way. But at the same time I wanted to write a story which wasn't like all the rest.

So I decided to be brave (or stupid) and write about life fulfilment.

But was I wrong to do this?

A lot of readers expect a tale of love when they pick up women's fiction. They want their tall, dark and handsome heroes and a happy ending. They want the book to contain certain elements and they want their expectations fulfilled. But here lies the problem. The category of Women's Fiction is just an umbrella term with a whole lot of other categories mixed in. There are the romance books, the erotic books and the chick lit books. Romantic comedy is very similar to chick lit but chick lit tends to talk about the protagonist's friendships, career, family life and various other things.

If readers did really want a guaranteed tale of love and romance, they'd surely pick up a book with a couple in a passionate pose on the front cover. Not some girl relaxing with a coffee in her favourite armchair.

So what do you think? Is it safe to write women's fiction without romance?

I'm going on a Baltic cruise from now until the 11th July so I will catch up with any comments when I return.

Monday, 2 June 2014

The Bare Truth of What Life as a Writer is Really Like - My KDP Select Results

Life as a writer can sometimes be compared to a music artist preparing for a concert in a huge arena. The excitement and anticipation is overwhelming and you're sure you've done everything humanely possible to prepare. You've spent months if not years dreaming about this event and now you can't believe it's here.

You're not sure just how many tickets have sold but you hope it's been a sell out. You have everything crossed that the audience will love your debut song because it's just the best song ever! And you're almost ready to swear on your life that this concert will launch your career into places like Hollywood with cute chicks, cool cars and fluffy dogs.

This concert will be the mother of all concerts. This concert will make all your dreams come true. This concert will make you richer than Richard Branson, more famous than Angelina Jolie, and happier than a chocoholic with a lifetimes supply of chocolate.

Only it doesn't ...

The only thing this concert is responsible for is sending you to the edge of madness and complete insanity.

Five minutes before you're due to sing you find out that only a handful of ticket have sold. That's just a handful of tickets in one of the largest indoor arenas in the European Union. And most of those have gone to your family members.


Your world has suddenly flipped one eighty. Instead of looking forward to all these dreams and fantasies, you're suddenly trapped in some kind of nightmare.

But as a true and committed artist, you go out and perform anyway. You sing your little heart out because you know you have talent. You know you have what it takes to become a success someday. You're a star because you have endless amounts of perseverance, patience and a work ethic which is second to none.

The only problem is the rest of the world doesn't know it yet.

But that's your job, you see. Your job is to go out there one person at a time and make them see how great you actually are. And this obviously takes time. Very, very rarely do people become overnight successes and those people who do still run the risk of fading into obscurity one day. Just like the rest of us, no one is immune from that potential danger.

Whether you're a writer or a pop star, you will do whatever it takes to get yourself noticed because this is your life. It's the sole purpose of why you exist in the first place. And whether you are a writer who has only managed to sell a handful of books that really doesn't matter because as time goes on you will sell more. You'll sell more because you'll write more and with every day that passes you'll find new opportunities to take advantage of.

I am a writer and last week I took advantage of KDP Select. Select, as most of you know, belongs to Amazon and it seems they do great things to promote you.

I enrolled my chick lit book: A Step Too Far in Select last month and promoted it as free for forty-eight hours. Within this time almost 5,000 copies were downloaded. Most of these downloads took place in America with the U.K. coming in second. I had downloads in Europe, India and Australia. The only place where I'm still obscure is Japan, Brazil and Mexico.

So I'd say my little experiment was quite successful. The only downside of being free is negative reviews so I have my fingers crossed I don't get too many of those.

I'll probably run a similar experiment with Confessions of a Webcam Model once it's been out a while. So when the time comes round, I'll let you know how that book performs.