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According to my last entry, trying something “different” is a gamble in publishing and will often end in failure. Which leads us to the demise of our/my beloved Silhouette Bombshell.

We all agree that having Bombshell on romance racks caused major problems for the line, i.e. if a romance reader picked one of the early Bombshells up because she wanted a traditional HEA and a man to save the day, well – she got neither. While the reader looking for a heroine to save the day didn’t even look on that rack in the first place.

But beyond placement, Bombshell was “different.” In fact, it was doubly different. Not only did it feature women who save the day and nontraditional HEAs, but even within those parameters, there was a huge amount of variety from one book to the next.

In fact, there was so much variety within Bombshell, it didn’t function as category on that level either. If someone who had never read a Bombshell picked up my ID CRISIS as their first one, for example, they might have loved it – if they like a light caper with lots of wisecracking. But if they were looking for a dark, gritty story with an angsty heroine, they might well have hated mine. Yet in those first six months, there were lots of dark, gritty, angsty stories that that particular reader would have loved.

Would that reader – the one who was willing to try Bombshell because the line sounded “different” – have walked away saying, “I tried one and they don’t live up to their promise?” Sad but true, I think some of that happened. And the reverse probably happened too, to be fair to ID CRISIS. I heard some readers say, “I tried Bombshell but the heroines were just too hard-core and man-like, and I missed the HEA,” and I thought to myself, “ID CRISIS had an angst-free, feminine, lighthearted heroine and a more-or-less HEA, as did lots of other Bombshells. Don’t judge the whole line by one book! ” Yet of course, some readers probably did. A Bombshell is a Bombshell is a Bombshell, right?

Am I making any sense at all? I’m saying that Bombshell shouldn’t have been a “category” even if it had been shelved on its own personal “get your heroine-saves-the-day Bombshell story here” rack, because even within the line, there were huge differences from book to book. One book’s success with a particular reader didn’t mean that reader would like the next Bombshell she picked up. One book’s failure wouldn’t mean that either. Yet by branding them together, we ran that risk from the start. Even by encouraging people to buy all four every month, we ran a risk, although it was a risk worth taking, because some readers ended up loving the variety the line offered them.

And it was also a risk worth taking from my selfish perspective. If Silhouette had wanted all gritty stories, ID Crisis never would have been published. And considering how much fun I had writing it and the other SPIN books, I’m just enormously grateful to the publishers, editors and readers for playing along with me for a while.

Now Silhouette is launching a new paranormal line called NOCTURNE. When I first heard about it, I thought about submitting, since I love reading, writing, and viewing paranormal stories. But NOCTURNE has announced that it only wants “dark” stories. And surprise, surprise, my paranormal WIPs are all rather “light.” I was disappointed, not only as an author, but also because I’m one of those readers who likes a lot of variety.

But given the experience with Bombshell, maybe Silhouette is correct to keep NOCTURNE consistently dark, at least at the beginning. Maybe too much variety is lethal to the “branding” concept that works so well for that company. Not that they don’t have a lot of variety within their other lines, because they do. But maybe they have introduced it more gradually. With Bombshell, an amazing and wonderful amount of variety was there from the very start. It was a daring and Bombshell-esque experiment. According to the experts, it failed.

Well, I’ve pretty much blogged this topic to death, haven’t I? I guess I needed to work it through. Thanks for listening. I promise I’ll move on to something more cheerful now!

ENTOURAGE anyone? Aaaaarrrrriiiiii ….

BTYL, Kate

Comments

(Anonymous)
Aug. 30th, 2006 02:40 am (UTC)
I got it, I got it, I got it! I got my copy of SPIN CONTROL yesterday! Can I call ya to chat after I read it? I know it's gonna be terrific. That opening prologue is priceless!!!

God, I'm gonna be so dejected when I get my last package in December (of the January books).

Karm
katedonovan
Aug. 30th, 2006 03:23 am (UTC)
SPIN CONTROL
Oh great! I'm glad you liked the prologue. Yes, call me -- I'll be home on Friday or the weekend. Thanks for reading it, Karm! -- Kate

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