Ins and Outs of M/M Romance: Overexposure – Getting Eyed While Avoiding Overexposure By Rick R. Reed

Most of you know Rick R. Reed as the master of horror. He moved into the world of M/M romance to bring you his vision of romance. For those who don’t know Rick here’s a short bio:

In their October 2006 issue, Unzipped magazine said: “You could call him the Stephen King of gay horror.” And Dark Scribe magazine said: “Reed is an established brand – perhaps the most reliable contemporary author for thrillers that cross over between the gay fiction market and speculative fiction.” To date, Reed has fifteen books in print, and his short fiction has appeared in more than 20 anthologies. His novel, ORIENTATION, won the EPPIE Award for best LGBT novel of 2008. He lives in Seattle, WA. Visit him on the web at www.rickrreed.com

Here’s Rick’s Post

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This blog comes to you both from the perspective of a reader and a writer, so beware. The two beasts, when combined, are a potent force.

This blog also comes with a warning—it offers only questions, not answers.

So what I’m yammering about today, all alone in my padded cell, listening to violinist David Garret rock out on “Kashmir”, is the question: How does a writer remain in the reading public’s eye while avoiding being overexposed? Now, by overexposed I do not mean the nudity many of us write about when crafting an erotic scene, I mean the kind of overexposure that makes a reader gasp and say, “Jesus Christ! Does Mary G. Writer or Bill H. Author have another book out? Why, it was only yesterday that I got wind of a new release! And just last week, Mary (or Bill) had two new books out at Fictionwise!” Frustrated—or delighted, depending upon one’s viewpoint—readers may scratch their heads and wonder how one writer can be so prolific without elves chained up in a basement somewhere, hammering out yet another story about a gay detective/cowboy/robot/shapeshifter/vampire or what-have-you falling in love with a gorgeous, deliciously muscled criminal/ranch hand/priest/pumpkin or Monopoly board.

I know I wonder such things and the scenarios above are not so far from the truth, especially in the genre of m/m romantic fiction. I’m sure you’ve noticed it, too, some writers just seem to be putting out a new tale every other week. I admire their work ethic, I envy the number of zeroes I imagine on their royalty checks, and I wonder how the heck they do it.

Take the wonderfully prolific—and wonderful—J.M. Snyder, for example. Go to her complete list of books on her website and, if you’re like me, you’ll be astounded at how one writer alone could put out so much. Does she ever sleep? What about bathe? Does she chain-write, like a 1960s ad executive used to chain smoke, starting a new book as soon as the last one is finished, with nary a pause?

I don’t know. Perhaps JM will speak up in the comments section below, if she can drag herself away from her latest story.

My point here, and I do have one, is: as a writer (and I myself have been accused of being prolific), where does one draw the line at being overexposed and putting out just enough material to keep readers happy? I am not saying anyone writes too much or too little here, by the way, just raising questions.

As a writer, I want to keep my work before the reading public. I almost feel compelled to have at least an e-book publication come out every couple of months or so, just so they won’t forget me. There’s so much competition out there, if a writer leaves the scene for an extended period, will he or she be forgotten? That’s the kind of question that keeps me awake at night. Once upon a time, a writer could wait years before publishing a book. Now, in our digital age, it seems readers expect quicker and more frequent delivery.

Or do they? Please tell me! If you’re a reader, do you ever feel a writer is coming out with new stuff too frequently? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by someone’s output? Do you ever feel like saying to a favorite author, “Slow down, honey, I can’t keep up!” Or are you of a more sadistic bent and want authors to hurry up and write more, more, more?

I’m sure I’m not the only writer who wants to know.

And another question for readers: at what point do you forget all about a writer if he or she doesn’t come out with a new book? Six months? A year? Never, if he or she is really good?

I am acquainted with a very well-known and successful m/m romance writer who is not only good, but also very prolific. You know who she is. I asked her how she stayed so successful when I almost never, never see her promoting on social networks, Yahoo groups, or anything like that. You know what she said?

“I think the single best thing any author who wants to build a readership in a certain genre can do is keep regular releases coming out without letting too much time elapse between them.  It’s true for all genres, but especially in the gay romance genre.  The competition is fierce right now in m/m romance, with more and more pubs offering gay romance releases, and a jillion authors writing it.  The secret, I think, is finding what readers are hot for and giving it to them as often as possible without compromising quality.”

Wise words indeed and if her success is any indication, she’s on the right track (and the key words above are “without compromising quality”). But yet, as a reader and a writer, I can’t help but wonder—am I giving them too much of a good thing?

I ask because I’m thinking about a writer I absolutely love on both a personal and literary level. But that writer, lately, has been like the author described above: almost every time I turn around he/she has a new release out. I used to auto buy everything from this writer, but lately, I haven’t been as enthusiastic, simply because I feel like I would have no time to read anything else if I had to keep up with his/her output.

And that makes me sad.

Will you speak up, writers and readers? Will you let me know when a writer has crossed the line into too much of a good thing?

Rick’s blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Rick’s email: horrorauthor@gmail.com

Rick R. Reed’s most recent books are:

A Demon Inside

On the Edge

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

52 comments

  • I think sometimes, even as a writer, or maybe because I’m a writer who grew up on the internet, my appetite for reading short is a bit of a plague. I feel my own short attention span pushing me to release quickly, maybe a bit afraid, as you say, if I wait too long, people who also grew up on the sound bite will forget who I am. It’s a constant struggle to reign in, breathe deep and remind myself to do it right, not fast. I’d rather put out something people will remember for a few months than loads of stories that all run together into a blurr.

    Reply
  • Lynn…your sales have gone though the roof because you’re good. It’s that simple.

    I’m with you on the full bag of ideas/partials. I have a file chock full of both. It’s not the idea of what I’ll write next, but when.

    Reply
  • Rick, great questions, certainly ones all writers struggle with, myself included.

    I have just signed with my 4th publisher. Now, two of them are for m/f works, so that leaves 2 publishers that would very much like for me to write like the wind.

    I do write fast, its just the way I do it, but even I need down time. This summer I got off the loops, virtually stopped promo (except for Gay Day!) and concentrated on putting some words on paper, since the last thing I wrote was published and I had nothing more.
    Nothing but 3 novellas and a full novel to produce by this fall. And maintain quality.

    This year, I sat down and took a hard look at how much I published – and whether I could keep it up without cracking up. (no one wants that, it wouldn’t be pretty at all) So, I decided to take on only a few novellas and work on a new full length book that would start a new series.

    Oddly, among this dirth of promo/loop/chats and no releases since early May – my sales went thru the roof these last 2-3 months. Not sure what that says….at all, but it’s curious.

    I love writing novellas – to me they are a great way to stay creative and push my writing to the limit- can I create plot, characters and a world in less than 30K?

    But I love writing novels, too.

    And I have so many partial ms waiting for me to do something with them, but most are of the m/f variety, and my m/f publishers are clammoring for more more more.

    There isn’t enough time in the day (with a full time job) to write everything I have ideas for. I accept that now.

    This year, my output slowed, and I have a feeling next year it will slow even more. I just have to trust my readers will wait for what’s to come and if I can deliver the goods, and they’re happy, then I’ll know I did it right.

    Reply
  • With all due respect to Mr. Reed, it seems to me this is a moot point. In my opinion, an author’s books are released because readers demand them and publishers push them to produce. As for poor quality, I’m reminded of something Katerina Witt said after she was criticized for falling in competitions after she’d won her first Olympic figure skating gold medal.
    “I’m not a machine. I’m human.”
    Likewise, authors, being human, can’t always turn out a great book. I stopped reading Patricia Cornwell and Stephanie Meyer after some duds. Subsequent books have been better.

    Reply

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