Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Piggybacking

You'd have to be living underground not to have heard of the successful erotic book, Fifty Shades of Grey, now turned into a movie. You'd also have to be living in a cave not to have recognized countless spinoffs, which for the purposes of this blog, I'll call Fifty Shades of Whatever.

There's a saying that success breeds success, and apparently many are quick to jump on the bandwagon and piggyback on others' successes. Some do it with similar titles. Others, with books in a similar genre. When that happens, what was once unique becomes one of many.

Actually, doing so is nothing new. What author didn't receive advice to compare their manuscript with a better known author's, when submitting to an agent or editor? Even in the library, I often see flyers saying, "If you like so and so, try so and so's books. You might like them."

In a way, it's a good thing to identify your book through comparison, and perhaps gain fans of like taste.

In another way, it's hard to compare your book with someone else's and still remain unique. That's walking a thin line, especially if you're determined to also follow the "Write the book of your heart" advice received from other quarters.

At least we're luckier than in the past, when books had to absolutely be pigeonholed into certain categories. Nowadays, it's possible to combine genres to suit our fancy.

So, if you wanted to piggyback and also be original, I guess you could do a book called Fifty Window Shades, Which One's Best?

After all, it's not easy to pick window shade styles, colors, or even gauge the width and length correctly. Some, you can tear off yourself to get the desired specifications, others you can't. Some are utilitarian, others fancy. Some block the light, some don't. Some you can see through, some you can't. Getting the wrong shade could lead to all sorts of trouble.

Now it's your turn. Do you have any either practical or nonsensical ideas for piggybacking on popular books or authors?


Experience the diversity and versatility of Morgan Mandel. Romantic Comedies: Her Handyman, its sequel, A Perfect Angel, standalone reality show romance; Girl of My Dreams. Thriller: Forever Young: Blessing or Curse,its sequel: the Blessing or Curse CollectionRomantic suspense: Killer CareerMystery:Two Wrongs.Short and Sweet  Romance:   Christmas Carol. Twitter:@MorganMandel Websites: Morgan Mandel.Com    Morgan Does Chick Lit.Com.

19 comments :

  1. I think television is a great example. One show is a hit, and it's not long before everyone else is producing the same genre. CSI, let me count the spinoffs. With indie publishing, at least there's a way to avoid being told that unless your book has vampires, it won't sell.

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    1. Very true, Terry. However, actors make or break a show. If I don't care for the actor, I don't watch the show, even if it's similar to one I like.

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  2. I watched 'Abe Lincoln, Vampire Killer' on the tube last night, and kept slapping myself in the forehead ... why didn't I think of that??

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    1. And if we do think of something we think is great, we wish someone would notice it and make it into a movie!

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  3. I'd never compare one of my books to a bestselling author or book. First and foremost, it reeks of chutzpah. If you like--name that author or name that bestelling book--you'll love Polly Iyer. Then prepare yourself for the reviews that tear you down in comparison. Not me.

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    1. The way to get around that is to mention some aspect of the other author's work, such as, containing a second chance at love theme, such as in a Danielle Steel book.

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  4. No piggybacking for me. I much prefer the idea of being unique, an original -- not a copycat.

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    1. We are all original in our own ways, yet there are only a certain amount of themes available.

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    2. True, but the same theme can have many twists. Have you heard Rachmaninoff's twenty-four variations based on a Paganini theme? The Eighteenth Variation provided the score for a movie years ago -- "The Story of Three Loves." :-)

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  5. I chuckled at your window shades book idea. But you know what? It could sell. LOL Not long ago I found out about another erotica book, Fifty Shades of Paleontology. Honest, erotic dinosaurs. http://www.amazon.com/Shades-Paleontology-Billionaire-Dinosaur-Erotica-ebook/dp/B00FQLPWV0

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  6. Amazon's algorithm picks up keywords, etc. to suggest books you may like because you liked similar books. But what constitutes similar? A book set in Scotland could be a romance or a mystery. I don't mind the suggestion that a book is "in the vein of." But ... you might want to avoid suggesting your book "is like" one that could hurt its reputation.

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    1. Yes, in the vein of, or containing a certain element, such as a revenge theme, as is often prevalent in Charles Bronson movies.

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  7. I once titled a mystery "The Bogey Man", thinking it was unique and no one else would have the same title. Turned out there's a book about golfing titled "The Bogey Man". LOL Who knew? We do the best we can to be unique.
    Marja McGraw

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  8. Yes, Marja, and you never know if someone will use the same title afterward to add to the confusion!

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  9. I'm too slow a writer to piggyback off any current trend. My next submission would be a long novel of life in a mansion on the Gulf of Mexico during the Civil War called Gone With the Hurricane.

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  10. I'm a slow writer also. I guess seasonal books could be called piggybacking. I did Christmas Carol and hope to do another, but am not sure if that will happen this year. I have two other books started that I wish to complete.

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  11. Love 50 window shades as an idea. I can't honestly think of who I could compare my work to. Hemingway? Faulkner? Wolf? Maybe wolf since I do werewolves.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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