Writing A Sucky Romantic Comedy... Why Do I Do These Things To Myself?
Yep. It's a Paranormal Romantic Comedy. A Sucky Vampire Romantic Comedy, if you will. If you've followed my career at all, you've probably learned that I have an unfortunate tendency to do risky things. If you ask me to go to a casino with you and gamble, I'll turn up my nose. It's not my thing. Poker? Ick. Scratch off cards? Nope. But spending 2-3 months of my time to pour my heart and soul into a book only to gamble its success by slapping a silly, ridiculous title and concept on the cover? Yeah. I'm in. Jokes aside, I thought this book wound up being a really fun departure from what I've written in the past. At times, it was definitely a new kind of challenge, though, and that's a little bit of what I wanted to get into with this post. So I'm going to dive into the process of creating this cover, coming up with the title, and why it was hard to write the book itself. The Cover
The last time I got any professional help on a cover (excluding the Anyone But Rich series which was traditionally published) was "Punished". Since then, and a several times before that book, I do my own stuff. It's mostly because I'm a control freak and I want things exactly how I want them, especially when it comes to covers. But I had to admit to myself that I wasn't equipped to do this one completely by myself. My main goal was to make it 100% clear exactly what kind of book and vibe you'd be getting into from a glance at the cover. That's usually my goal, more or less, but with such a strange concept, I thought it was extra important this time. So I went down the deep, dark, moist hole of hiring freelancers. I tried a few sites like fiverr and freelancer.com. I even ran a contest for submissions based on my description of what I wanted. The results were... Interesting. I did get some good submissions from those places, but ultimately I decided I still hadn't found the exact illustration that got me where I wanted. So I asked around through some author friends and wound up getting connected to an artist who was amazing. He drew exactly what I asked for and all that was left was to place it on the cover and decide on some fonts and colors for the rest. Even though it seems like it'd be less work to do a cover where I'm handed 80% of the work in the form of an illustration... It wasn't. Finding the right artist and working with freelancers meant I probably invested five times as much effort into this cover than I have in the past. BUT, at least now I've found an amazing artist I can come back to in the future. The Title
I like to make my titles before I write my books, which is something I've talked about before. That also means that sometimes I finish the book and come back to realize my original title doesn't really fit the book I wrote, which was the case here. I started with two potential titles. "Dating A Vampire, 101," or "That Time I Dated A Vampire." Mainly, I was just trying to establish that it was Vampires + a rom-com tone. But once I finished the book, it felt like the whole "dating" angle really wasn't accurate to make a key part of the title. I didn't want people to feel misled. So I went back to this idea of using "Fang" as a euphemism for "bang" in the title. After brainstorming with an author friend, I was given a rare gift and literally handed this title. I explained a few of the ones I was thinking about, and then she had a "WAIT... I'VE GOT IT." moment. The moment she suggested it, I knew I loved the title. Granted, if this book doesn't do well, it's obviously going to be entirely her fault now. I'll have to hunt her down and sacrifice her family fish for penance. Kidding... Totally kidding.
I really wasn't sure what kind of book I was going to write when this idea came to me. I knew I wanted to do a vampire rom-com, and that was it. Before I really dove in, I tried to form a kind of battle plan in my head. Basically, I figured I needed to know how deep I wanted to let myself go in either direction. I was stepping into a new genre of readers with this book, but also hoping to entertain my usual readers. That meant if I went too deep in the paranormal world, I might risk leaving behind the rom-com and my usual style, which might feel like a let-down to my usual readers. On the other hand, if I only paid lip service to the paranormal aspects and didn't go deep enough, I'd be sort of "tricking" paranormal readers into my book and letting them down. Being the people-pleaser I am, I wanted to do the thing that would make everybody happy. So my plan was to walk the knife's edge. I wanted just enough paranormal and vampire stuff to satisfy the usual PNR readers, and just as much rom-com as I normally write to make my usual readers feel happy and satisfied. Naturally, it was hard. There were moments I personally wanted to go deeper in the PNR stuff. I'm kind of a sci-fi/fantasy reader in my spare time, and that part of me was like a caged guinea pig next to a carrot farm. I wanted to get real nerdy with it. I wanted to go into different clans and sects and powers and everything you could imagine. I wanted to dive into the origin stories of the vampires and how it all started, etc. BUuuut I held back. Yes, in my own brain I decided all these things, but I made a continued effort to not let that all overshadow the romance. In the end, I hope I succeeded. As it goes with publishing books, I won't really know until I launch it in a couple days. Personally, I am super happy with the book and my editor said good things. But I've also learned in the past that isn't the end-all-be-all of measurements to figure out if a book launch is going to well. So all I can do is chew my fingernails before they have a chance to see the light of day, drink lots of coffee, distract myself by writing blog posts like this, and wait.
But the wait is almost over. I'm writing this on a Wednesday, and that means I'll be hitting the fated "Publish" button tomorrow night. Wooooooo. I hope this post doesn't become something I come back to read while listening to sad break-up songs and feeling sorry for myself. Okay. No more blog posting. Back to fingernail chewing. XX Penelope