February 2nd, 2009

Happy anniversary to me

Today marks one year of no nylons, no commute, no boring meetings, no creative briefs, no makeup, and no fixed schedule. No more trying to channel the latest CEO’s not-very-well-articulated thoughts. A year where my life has been my life. A year of trying to make a living as a writer

Sure on the flip side, it also marks a year with no company-provided benefits, no company adding to a pension, and watching our retirement and Teen’s college savings lose about 40 percent of their value.

But I’ve also signed contracts for five books, written three or four (if you add all the pieces up), started running four days a week (in the winter, when I was working, I could only run one or two), and discovered that I’m not lonely (which was one of my big fears).

Would I do it again, knowing the economy was going to tank?

Yes. Shaking and trembling, but yes. Because it was getting to the point that work was soul-crushing.

This pretty much describes my old job.

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Should authors become brands?

There’s an article in Slate’s The Big Money online magazine that says "authors increasingly must transcend their words and become brands."

I think it’s true to a big extent. My brand, which was established with my first book, Circles of Confusion, was as a mystery writer. And then with Learning to Fly: A Thriller, I expanded it to thrillers. And then with Shock Point, I expanded it to YA thrillers. But the times I have tried to write outside my brand, it’s been harder to find a home.

I always think about author John Halliday. When Teen was Kid, she liked his book PredicKtions, a lot. It was funny and quirky, suitable for 4th graders.

Like a good mom, I sought out more books to put on hold at the library. And I found Shooting Monarchs by the same author. I thought it would be like the other book. It wasn’t until Kid was almost done reading it and made some comment about it that I went online and realized it was about a serial killer - and that some reviewers thought it suitable for 12th grade and up. To me, the author departed from his brand. He could have written one type of book or the other, but it was too much of a departure.

Does that mean I won’t try my hand at funny or paranormal? Of course not. My first four books had a lot of humor in them. But I might use a different name or my initials to stop from muddying my brand.

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