Thursday, February 22, 2007

My 25th book!

Sophie and Mark now have a title and a release date. Their story will be called
THE BRIDESMAID'S BEST MAN and it will be released in January 2008.

This means they will be part of two milestones!!! The first month of Mills & Boon's 100th anniversary, which is the biggie!!! (Isn't it wonderful that M&B have been publishing since 1908?) And my personal milestone -- 25 books.

The funny thing is, I've been thinking about the need to "brand" myself as an author, thinking I need to write all my books set in the Outback with a certain kind of hero. (One of my author mates has suggested my brand is a modern Lucy Walker -- I wish.)

I'm not sure how readers feel about that and I would love to hear if they like to know exactly what kind of story they're going to get when they pick up an author's book. More or less like knowing if this author is a cherry ripe of a peanut brittle. For example, when I read Rosamunde Pilcher, I know her books are almost always going to be set in Cornwall or London or Scotland (with a dash of Spain or America thrown in), and I know I'm going to be reading about reasonably wealthy, upper class people with artistic sensibilities, who invariably love gardening or the countryside. I know I can expect warm, emotional stories with some delightful, witty insights, some wise older characters and some less wise young ones, etc, etc. And then there's RP's distinctive voice.

And I love knowing that I can trust her to write about these things. The expectation is part of the enjoyment, I guess. Dick Francis or James Herriot are similarly reliable (no, I didn't say predictable. (quick examples off the top of my head.)

I have no idea if I have a distinctive voice, but anyway, to get back to the point I began making a few paragraphs ago, Sophie and Mark's story is set right in the Outback on the Queensland/Northern Territory border and Sophie is an English girl, pregnant after a one night stand with Mark (when they were best man and bridesmaid). But the title doesn't have a whisper of the Outback in it. I guess it will be on the blurb, however and may be evident on the cover -- and does it matter? I haven't a clue.

Did you know that Rosamunde Pilcher used to write for Mills and Boon? That's why she's my hero. I dream of some day writing a longer book set in WW2, in the vein of the "The Shell Seekers".


Romance, Rumours and Rogues said...

Huge congrats on your 25th book, Barb. What a fabulous achievement!

The branding question is an interesting one. For me, I know when I pick up one of your books I'm going to get a gorgeous Aussie outback hero and I love that. I think for many readers having an expectation of an author is what keeps them coming back to buy more and more.

Ally Blake said...

Fabulous news Barbara!!! And what a great title. Should be a winner.

I love the idea of branding though am in the same boat as you, I have no idea what mine is/could be/should be or if I should let it happen all on its own.

For your books I think you have a distinctive feel and voice wherever they are set. That said your descriptions of the Outback make my mouth water. No help at all am I?


Liz Fielding said...

That is just such a great title, Barb -- I hope it's as good to you as my best man and bridesmaid title was for me.

And congratulations on your 25th book.

As for branding, I'm with Ally, I think voice and style are what brings a reader back to an author. Although have a recognisable setting must help.

juliemt said...

Hi Barbara,

Huge congrats on yout 25th book! You're one of my favourites and I hope that you write many, many more!

As for branding, personally I think that an author's name is the only brand I look for when I pick up a book. It doesn't matter where you set a book; whether it's the Outback or Timbucktoo for if your name is on the front page, I know that I'm going to be reading a wonderfully emotionally satisfying romance.


Barbara Hannay said...

Thanks for the congrats and the reassurances.
Julie, thanks for dropping by and for your kind words. You've made my day!
Liz, Your Best Man and the Bridesmaid is one of my all time favourite romances. Sophie and Mark's story is very different but I hope people enjoy it, too.
Am still thinking about the 'branding' thing. We all know certain authors who've had huge careers with Dutch doctors or long, tall Texans. But others, like Nora Roberts, have written a wide range of different sorts of books. Then again, she's a publishing phenomenon.

Liz Fielding said...

Coming back to branding, Barb, is it maybe about expectation? The big companies do it in their advertisements by showing the feeling you should be experiencing when using a product. (I did some research for this for The Valentine Bride!) Our individual brand, within the HR series, is what the reader expects to feel when she reads a particular author.

Whatever the feeling, it's clear that wherever you set a book, you deliver!

Barbara Hannay said...

You're probably right about this, Liz. But it's how to produce that feeling that's tricky. Perhaps it comes from the subconscious, it's part of who we are. Our voice in other words. Or can it be more intentional than that?
I certainly think your books have a definite Liz Fielding quality, no matter what story line you write.
Your explanation of branding in terms of advertising and feelings is helpful. And it ties in with Ally's comments.
I'm going to be talking about this with my editor soon, so it will be interesting to get her take.

Phillipa said...

Congratulations Barbara. I love your outback settings and yes you DO have a very distictive voice, I have enjoyed many HMBs but yours are the only M&B books that have ever made me cry. You had me sobbing at two of them!