I'll give you the moral upfront: Pay attention to results and don't grow too attached to what you're sure are cool ideas. I did just that when I divided my books into two camps. On the one hand, I had some wild hardboiled thrillers with a Southern Scot named Boss. On the other hand, I had some highly unusual, much shorter books, blending suspense and romance. So a marketing split of some sort made good sense. But here's where I ran into trouble by attempting to get over-cute.
Some of the shorter suspense tales had subtle Christmas settings--and I set out to make my niche by stretching that connection...and offering dark, gritty, edgy thrillers--a few of them containing violence...sold under the umbrella heading "Reb's Rebel Yell Anytime Yuletide Chillers". And for the Boss MacTavin novels, I gave this series title: "Reb's Rebel Yell Crime Tales for Bad Boys and Girls."
A long story made short: recently I realized that the series titles were probably doing much more harm than good. Even with the word "Anytime", I'd put off the following readers: those who don't like Christmas tales...those who don't like gritty Christmas tales but do enjoy gritty suspense...those who might not mind a gritty little Christmas tale--but not in the middle of summer. Furthermore, Reb's Rebel Yell might sound just a little too precious. As for the Boss books, 'Crime Tales for Bad Boys and Girls' sounds too cutesy Young Adult.
I traded ideas with some writers I know and made these decisions:
1) I had to stop billing the short books as Christmas tales. In the books themselves, the setting is subtly played--just as it is in Die Hard 1 and 2, Reindeer Games and many other fine thrillers that happen to be set at Christmas. One writer friend pointed out that the tales all had to do with retribution, in one way or another. And that thought led to this new heading: The Fast and The Furies: Suspense. I now gave the genre and the unifying theme. I then went on to revise the copy (see below), experimenting gingerly with a couple of changes in font for effect.
2) For the Boss books, I kept my game still simpler. I'd been wrong in billing them as thrillers. They're mysteries, but with a lot more action than some mystery fans might expect. So, keeping it simple: The Boss MacTavin Action Mysteries.
Now here's the sample I promised, for one of The Fast and The Furies.
Each standalone book in this series will take you to a grave new world where those who've played fast with their lives or the law are on the run from karma. Breakneck thrills, hairpin turns and forces hellbent on collecting await. Only the noblest souls will survive.
Magic and Suspense
In The Vanishing Magic of Snow, an old man is horrified to learn that he was a villain for much of his life. Now starving and faced with eviction, Jay Penny has only one hope: a magic trick that caused the death of a brilliant young magician in the Seventies Toronto. The glory days, Jay's always thought, when he'd been dodging the draft. But, looking back, he sees the part he played in Sonny Storm's death. And it seems clearer by the day that Sonny's vengeful spirit is manifesting Jay's own ruin. Or...could Sonny be trying to teach him the trick?
Like the other series entries, TVMOS weighs in at 35,000 words--a bit shorter in length than readers may expect. But the books are in fact novels, not long short stories or novellas, just as the following titles are all sold as novels though under 50,000 words: The Old Man and the Sea, The Pearl, Of Mice and Men,The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde...
--The Canadian scenes are based on hard-won experience. Reb did live in Canada, with thousands of other draft dodgers, for the ten years recorded here. And he really did meet Doug Henning, Michael Ondaatje, Michael Sarazzin and most of the other stars who appear in cameos.
--The scenes set in present-day Charlotte, when Jay Penny is down to mere pennies, are based on true events. Reb came within three days of ruin by the Great Recession...when something astonishing happened.
--You needn't believe in The Secret or Real Magic to enjoy this story. The subject of manifestation--in which thoughts become things--goes back a very long time. Some say to the ancient Babylonians. That's open to debate. But from Ralph Waldo Emerson to James (As a Man Thinketh) Allen to Napoleon (Think and Grow Rich) Hill...to Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra...the philosophy's ancient and still going strong. And the springboard for this tale of terror is this: How do we avoid Creepy Karma if all we can see is our ruin?
--In its own fictional, fanciful way, the book offers an answer that anyone can use, whichever camp they fall in--Believers or Non Believers. When the wind is taken from our sails, we all need what Jay Penny calls an Almighty Shockeroo: one electrifying image to get us back in gear. And you'll learn how to find your own in The Vanishing Magic of Snow.
Let some Real Magic into your life with this book.