Twisting the Tropes: How to Find Your Niche in Popular Themes
We authors all want to be wildly successful (come on, admit it, you do!) but we struggle with how to get there. Often, writers try to latch onto the latest fad in hopes of riding others’ coattails. This might work, or it might not. But the real question is, do you really want to be another author writing the same thing as a thousand others? Or would you rather make your own, unique mark? Do you know how to find your niche?
The secret is…you can do both.
With my latest erotic romance, Fired Up, I played with two popular tropes — friends to lovers, and firefighters. I made my hero, Adam, a firefighter. But rather than leaving it at that, I played with his profession, giving him a nickname that evoked both his ladies’ man past and his job. He’s known as the Arsonist, a man who ignites women’s libidos with one scorching glance. I also made use of this metaphor in the book’s tagline: “He sets women ablaze, but the only one he needs may be fireproof.”
This brings me to the friends to lovers aspect of the story.
I could’ve just said Mel and Adam are friends and moved on to building the romance. Instead, I made them friends who have known each other all their lives. Their attraction to each other doesn’t start on page one. It began years earlier, though neither of them wanted to acknowledge it. Their deep, lifelong commitment to each other as friends intensifies the shift in their relationship that takes place during the book. It has also affected their past life choices in surprising ways.
Are these shockingly original ideas? No, of course not. They’re simply my way of twisting the tropes a little, turning what could’ve been a cookie-cutter story into something that belongs to me. That’s the key to finding your niche in the overcrowded world of publishing. Go ahead, twist those tropes!
Anna’s Best Promo Tip
Have you ever heard of ad stacking? It’s when you line up promos for one book over the course of several days, or even several on the same day. I’ve tried both ways and find spacing them out over a few days, or even a week, can boost the results and the sales rank. This is how Dangerous in a Kilt wound up at #96 in the Kindle store a few weeks ago and #25 out of all contemporary romances. It also hit #5 among all romances on iTunes and #1 in contemporary romance in the Barnes & Noble Nook store.
Thanks to this success, Smashwords added my upcoming book, Fired Up, to their Hotlist of anticipated preorders. This got it featured on the USA Today Happy Ever After blog.
Anna’s Favorite Author Tip
Go too far. Yes, that’s my advice. What does it mean? Don’t hold back during the first draft. Let yourself go a little too far — too silly, too hot, too weird, or whatever — and worry about pulling back in the edits. Sometimes, an element I think is a step too far turns out to be just what the story needed. If I’d listened my inner cringer, some of my favorite scenes might never have reached readers.
With Fired Up, I wondered if my hero’s dirty talk went a bit too far, but in the end I realized that’s just Adam. Some of my favorite humorous moments in the book stem from his salty language when talking to Mel. Don’t be afraid to go too far in the first draft. You might find too far is just right!
Anna Durand is an award-winning, bestselling author of sizzling romances, including the Hot Scots series. She loves writing about spunky heroines and hunky heroes, in settings as diverse as modern Chicago and the fairy realm. Making use of her master’s in library science, she owns a cataloging services company that caters to indie authors and publishers. In her free time, you’ll find her binge-listening to audiobooks, playing with puppies, or crafting jewelry. She’s also a member of Romance Writers of America and its Published Authors Network.
He sets women ablaze, but the only one he needs may be fireproof.
Humiliated by her cheating ex, control freak Mel Thompson has resolved to avoid sex and romance. But her plans skid off the rails on her birthday, when she overindulges in champagne and tries to seduce her best friend, Adam Caras, exposing her long-repressed attraction to him. She’s determined to remain just friends, but her erotic fantasies have other ideas…
Firefighter Adam Caras has seduced more women than he’d ever admit to, earning the nickname the Arsonist, thanks to his explosive sensuality. Unfortunately, he realized he’s in love with his best friend Mel five minutes after she hooked up with her sleazebag ex. For two years, he’s kept his true feelings a secret. His libido, on the other hand…not so easy to rein in. Now that she’s free, he has a plan of his own. He’ll win her heart the only way he knows how–in bed–by employing every weapon in his lady-killer arsenal.
As best friends become lovers, they must risk everything for a chance at happiness. If they can overcome their past mistakes before it tears them apart…
Anna Durand is an award-winning author of steamy romances. Here’s where you can find her.
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