Simon Says: Writing Tips for Indie Authors

Decide what kind of artist you want to be before entering the industry.

Writers can’t excuse that all artists are screened through consumers’ expectations. Experts in the entertainment industry understand this concept. And yes, more than ever, books are heavy contenders in this, generating amazing movie deals, inspiring songs etc.

Recently, I’ve been catching up on talent completions, specifically X Factor. It’s funny to watch the contestants wait in anticipation for Simon Cowells response. Deep down, his feedback is the only one they really care about (so it seems). Because what Simon says is right. He knows talent, but more importantly he knows the business and the market.

Over the years there is one thing he says repeatedly on American Idol, Some Country Has Talent and X Factor that has stuck with me. Several times, mid-song, he’d ask the person auditioning to sing something different.

Why?

Because their voice wasn’t right for the song, possibly the style didn’t suit them. Basically, it wasn’t working. Then they’d perform something different and it would wow the judges. Choosing the right song is everything. Just because a singer can sing anything, doesn’t mean they should. Think about some of your favorite artist for a minute. Why do you like them? How would you define (categorize) their music? Is their style consistent?

There’s a reason why Taylor Swift, Kings of Leon, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Muse, Dave Matthews Band, and countless others (really the list could go on), stick with one genre of music. It’s not because their talent has limitations–not at all. But their audience has expectations and, as artists, they understand the value in meeting those expectations.

Leonardo DiCaprio established himself as an actor in similar (type-cast) kind of roles, then blew our minds as we discovered later on the depth of his acting. This is easier to see with comedians. So, Jim Carey stuck with comedy for a while before shocking us with The Truman Show. Proving yourself in one area really pays off. Consumers need some sort of brand recognition–a way to place the artist in their minds.

For indie authors, the same applies. Just because you can write any genre doesn’t mean you should–well, not in the beginning. Build an audience in one genre first, then you can cross into another. And pick the right genre for your writing style. Like Simon says, this makes all the difference. And let me say:

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What are your thoughts on choosing the right genre, building an audience, and brand recognition as an author?

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7 thoughts on “Simon Says: Writing Tips for Indie Authors

  1. I absolutely agree with you here, Chloe. My husband said almost exactly the same thing to me. I was complaining to him that I hadn’t been very successful with my debut novel. He told me I needed to pick a genre and stick with it – at least to begin with – if I wanted to be a success as an author.

    So now that I’m working on my second novel, I’ve picked romance as the genre I’m going to write in. At least for now. Who knows what I’ll be writing in the years to come? But at least if I’m trying to write for a specific genre, I’m more likely to succeed. Thanks for reminding me of what I need to remember. 🙂

    • I love that you write romance. You’re good at it although I’m sure you can tackle any genre. It’s tough to stick with one since us writers have so many ideas. But focusing on an area helps with discipline and building an audience. As a reader, I would totally be thrown off if my new favorite author choose a different genre for their second book. So this is a good reminder for me too. My YA science fiction will have to wait a while. 🙂

      Thanks for your support and comments!

  2. Hi Chole. I think you nailed it. I also think it’s possibly more important for a writer to pick a genre that you read, especially for first novels. Just as you indicated fans of musical genres have expectations, readers have them as well. If you don’t read in the genre, you will have a more difficult time writing it.

    • Danielle! Thanks for commenting. Your point is extremely valid. Like all of us, readers have expectations too. For those authors wanting to sell books, it’s important to listen to your target audience. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!! 😉

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