To date, I have published sixteen books as Posy, one as Winter Sandberg, and there are fourteen additional stories still available online from before I was published. I write stories that span the emotional spectrum, from dark, introspective journies to fluffy sweetness.
I know I’ve taken a risk publishing such wide-ranging works because readers may enjoy one story but be disappointed with the next that has a different tone. I’ve certainly had some of my expectations dashed by authors, so I get that. But I’m willing to take that chance.
At Twin Cities Pride, I met a lot of potential new readers. The first question I asked them was what sort of books they enjoyed reading so I could direct them to the right story. And the longer I’m doing this “meeting the readers” thing, the better I’m getting at it.
Reading what reviewers say about my work has helped me better understand how my work comes across to others, as well. There have been some books I thought were sad but not angst-filled. I’ve since been corrected. Haha. Fusion, book #2 in North Star, for example, has stuck with people for weeks and made them bawl and relive past losses that the storyline brings up. I wrote that story to face some of my own deep-seated fears, so I knew it tugged at my own heartstrings. I just didn’t realize it would affect others just as deeply.
Since Pride, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to categorize my books so readers can more easily find the right book for them at the right time. And I do mean the right time. There are times, all I want to read is angst and despair. I want to wallow in all the feelz. At other times, I want light and fluffy. And every so often, I want some kink. As I was preparing to be interviewed on Jeff & Will’s Big Gay Fiction Podcast, I was writing up a quick and dirty description so Will and Jeff don’t have to read all sixteen of my books before they interview me. I used a five-point scale to describe Fluff as a 1 and Angst as a 5. Then today I had another idea.
So here it is: a three-point flavor scale I think will work. Or maybe I’m just hungry!
Think dessert or fresh fruit like a juicy orange, still warm from the tree. Mmm. You might need to brush after reading this.
Think kink. This story will have a little heat, but each reader’s taste will determine just how hot they find it.
Think main courses, rich with herbs and spices. This is dark and earthy, heavy in parts, but with a nice finish that leaves you well satisfied at the end.
The reason I like this system is that I have stories that are like fusion dishes. Oh! Did you see what I just did there? Hehe. I mentioned fusion up above and then…. Okay, I need to go out for dinner tonight.
But seriously, Farm Fresh would be considered Savory and Spicy. Spark would be Sweet and Savory. Cheeky Hipsters & Jocks is all Spice!
And perhaps as a mild qualifier, I should let people know if there will be any bitterness in the stories. I write romance, so there will always be a happily for now or a happily ever after, but as I mentioned above, Fusion made people sob. So how about this:
Think espresso or dark chocolate. Perhaps even a nice hoppy IPA that lingers on the tongue. These stories may stick with you for a time.
There might be parts that are hard to get through, but the characters are growing and changing with these moments of heartbreak. I would certainly put this label on Fusion.
Bitter is smaller, as you can see, at least if you’re reading at this on a computer. I don’t want to use Bitter in the full rating system because I’ve never written a story that could only be categorized as bitter. Okay, maybe one way back in my fan fiction days. I wouldn’t even list it as romance anymore, considering the main love interest was dead at the start of the story… but that’s for another day.
So, what do you think? Does this look like something that would help you as a reader to decide what book to pick up next?
I’m going to try this in action now, using my novels that are published to date.