Sunday, May 2, 2010

Who the Hell Are You?

What you're seeing here, folks, is a guy who's written in a vacuum for the better part of twenty years.

Sure, I posted online, but I would just post, mention my writing in passing, and then get back on topic. People usually guessed I was a writer, though, and when I confessed they said they already figgered as much.

Eh. Go figger. I do a lot of figgering, I figger.

But I wrote happily in this vacuum, letting the worms dig wherever they wanted, turn whatever earth they felt a mind to turn, if worms had a mind, that is, and they turned and turned and up popped all these weeds and flowers and an oak and this damned little china-berry tree I can't imagine I planted, but there it is, ugly and plain as the untrimmed nail on your left big toe.

Then, in 2009, I went to figgering again and submitted some short stories.

Just for the hell of it.

And wouldn't you know it, one got taken up. BING! SWEET! It was the first short I'd ever submitted.

The publisher took to me, and I took to him. I made it clear to him that I understand this is not a hobby for him, and I started pushing those books, selling em, and racking up author points toward a book deal. I'm just one short story in the book, but I've sold more than any of the other authors. Click here.

Do your own figgering on that one, eh.

Then he asks for another short, and I send it, and now it's in next year's anthology, too! Double-bing!

Then he asks if I'll head up a writing project for a De Lint-style Urban Fantasy series with two other writers, me being the lead author. Triple-bing!

Then he asks for a book. I send him three.

"Why me?" I ask.

"Seriously. Because I think you fucking rock."

His exact words.

Best words a writer can hear, too, especially if they're spoken over two pints of dark beer by two forty-year-old guys with pretty girlfriends, all as part of a master plan that involves one more round of dark beer and our names in The National Enquirer.

So I got real damned serious about this writing gig. It's going from hobby and early-morning obsession to business model. I own my own business, so I understand that part. Market penetration. Buzz. Know your market. Be the market. Find the weak spots. Don't fish where everyone else is fishing because those spots are fished-out.

That's why I don't want to go YA. Too many boats in that water.

But I've been ponderizing it for about a year, now, on what to do, how to move forward, finding my niche and defining my brand name.

And that brings me to my point: WHAT IS YOUR BRAND NAME?

My brand name for my business is this: Well Planning and Directional Drilling Software. I devote time and a website to that one effort, not programming in general.

So why devote Digging With the Worms to writing in general! I need a BRAND NAME HERE!

See, when a reader picks up your book, what do they expect? To what style writing is your website dedicated?

What do publishers and agents and bookdealers want to see in you? Clancy has his own expectation. King. Koontz. Bradbury. De Lint. JKR and JRR both elicit a unique image with nothing more than their initials.

I'm asking myself what the heck is my brand name? Fantasy? Fiction? Rural realism like Faulkner and McCarthy? Sci-Fi? Horror? I've dabbled in em all. I have the skills I need to publish.

But I don't have a genre or a business model.

It's go-time for Mr. Trant. I need to pick that brand name and stick to it.

But what is it?

Rural and Urban Paranormal, maybe. That'd be fun.

Folks, how did you pick your genre? If I stuck with what I know, I'd be writing backwoods fiction/monster/para stories with severe realism, and/or urban fiction about divorce and raising families.


Check out this article on genres: Genre Rules

- Eric


sarahjayne smythe said...

Good question. I'll let you know when I figure it out. :) And btw, congrats on all that good writerly stuff coming your way. :)

Charity Bradford said...

I'm wondering the same, or more specifically if I have a problem in this area. I sat down and wrote a story. A story I wanted to read. It has a bit of science, a bit of fantasy, and a touch of romance, but where would it fit on the shelf?

Then I ask myself, would the story be better/different if I had started with a genre goal in mind? Different, sure. Better, I don't think so. I understand the need for labels, but sometimes they are very frustrating.

Good luck! Maybe write the story in your head and heart and then see where it falls. Who says each story has to be the same genre?

Jemi Fraser said...

Good question. I'm still working on that. Right now I'm working in both romantic mysteries for adults and Steampunk for YA. Right now the ya is, well, steaming ahead. :)

dolorah said...

I'm a mixed vegetable. I'm still trying out my writerly wings. All I know for sure is I'm not YA/MG, and romance just doesn't get it for me either.

But hey; for a guy unsure of his brand, you've sure gone far. Kudos to you.


Eric W. Trant said...

Thanks, all. I'm sure not a YA guy! Probably horror.

Or mainstream fiction.

I've been poking around all weekend on this topic, looking for sites (I did this last year, too) and I'm still leaning toward horror.

I dig the macabre. Maybe it's time for a new face on horror. That genre's been around for a hundred-fifty years. I don't think it's ready to die yet.

And if it died, the horror genre would resurrect itself as undead, eh.

Mainstream horror, maybe? Literary horror? Steampunk horror?


- Eric

Raquel Byrnes said...

Interesting journey you've had. You're right about not going with the crowd, seems to have served you well to be a bit of a maverick.

Oh, I tagged you with an award at...

Great job.

Jessica Bell said...

LOL. Looks like you've got quite a bit more figgering to do ;)

I think you might just have to start writing and then find a genre for it.

When I started writing it was a mix between women's and literary. But in the end, I stuck with women's and lightened up my language a bit because it wasn't quite poetic ENOUGH to be classed as literary, and wasn't light enough to be women's. I figured life will be much easier if I lighten it up - so I did. And I think it works pretty well.

My point is. Write first, and then figger :)

Eric W. Trant said...

Raquel: Very cool! Thanks Raquel! Yours is certainly one of the blogs I've enjoyed the finding as well.

Jessica: Thanks for the inspiring words! I've been sleeping on it and now I'm beginning to think I'm over-ponderizing, as you are suggesting. I do that sometimes, get over-ponderized.

My therapist has a nice boat, see. She named it after me. The jet ski's named after my mom.

- Eric

Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...

Sounds like you've reached the logical conclusion, overponderizing can get, well, just overponderous. Congratulations on your triple crown and, hey dude, seriously, your writing fucking rocks!!!

Eric W. Trant said...

Thank you, Rebel! Isn't it nice to know some blogs don't moderate for language. Sorta like the difference between lukewarm and iced tea, ain't it, or light and dark beer.


- Eric

Anonymous said...


Your post did not disappoint. Kudos for going so far into the arena without an idea of how you want to brand yourself.

My problem is I love it all. I've written all genres and all styles for adults: short stories, poems, articles and technical pieces; yet in the end, it is juvenile lit that will make me feel successful.

Talk about making a U-turn at the top of a mountain! I should have just coasted down the other side.

Eric W. Trant said...

Cat, I love it all, too! I think I could write YA, but I'd have to rein in the worms. They get risque. My target group would probably be college or high school, at the youngest.

- Eric

Nighfala said...

I am writing Jane Austen meets Tolkein.

Polite, well-mannered fantasy people who have lots of a) moral dilemmas and b) bad things trying to kill/eat them.