Indie Author Weekly

098: 5 tips for how to write confidently in a stigmatized genre

February 09, 2021 Sagan Morrow Episode 99
Indie Author Weekly
098: 5 tips for how to write confidently in a stigmatized genre
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Indie Author Weekly
098: 5 tips for how to write confidently in a stigmatized genre
Feb 09, 2021 Episode 99
Sagan Morrow

Have you ever wondered how to write—with confidence!—in a genre that might have some stigma around it? Well, that’s exactly what we are going to discuss on today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly!  

This is the podcast for indie authors, aspiring authors, and curious bookworms who want the inside scoop, tips and motivation, and behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books.  

Today's episode of Indie Author Weekly shares 5 tips for how to write confidently, even in a stigmatized genre like Sagan's: polyamorous romantic comedies.  

TUNE IN to this episode to get the inside scoop and tips...  

Resources & links mentioned in this episode:  

Let's chat about this episode:  

Support the show (https://saganmorrow.com/secretpodcast)

Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever wondered how to write—with confidence!—in a genre that might have some stigma around it? Well, that’s exactly what we are going to discuss on today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly!  

This is the podcast for indie authors, aspiring authors, and curious bookworms who want the inside scoop, tips and motivation, and behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books.  

Today's episode of Indie Author Weekly shares 5 tips for how to write confidently, even in a stigmatized genre like Sagan's: polyamorous romantic comedies.  

TUNE IN to this episode to get the inside scoop and tips...  

Resources & links mentioned in this episode:  

Let's chat about this episode:  

Support the show (https://saganmorrow.com/secretpodcast)

Hello and welcome back to Indie Author Weekly! I’m your host, romantic comedy novelist and productivity strategist Sagan Morrow, and this is the podcast for indie authors, aspiring authors, and curious bookworms who want the inside scoop, tips and motivation, and behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books. 

Now, have you ever wondered how to write—with confidence!—in a genre that might have some stigma around it? Well, that’s exactly what we are going to discuss on today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly.

For our new and returning listeners, you can now get all Indie Author Weekly podcast episodes plus book and writing updates delivered directly to your inbox each week at SaganMorrow.com/behindthescenes—link is in the show notes.

Now let’s get into this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast. Today, I want to share 5 tips for how to confidently write in a stigmatized genre. One of the most well-known stigmatized genres is erotic romance, but there are so many other genres that could have stigma around them, too—especially if they’re considered “low brow” or “fluffy”... and if you can’t tell, I use very gigantic quotes around those words. 

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you’ll probably already know that the “stigmatized genre” I write is polyamorous romantic comedies. 

But let’s take a step back from that for a moment. Because I’m curious: If you’re a reader of romance novels, how often do you read those books in public? Does it depend on what the cover looks like? 

And if you do choose to read that romance novel in public, do you find yourself angling the book so no one sitting beside you happens to look over your shoulder and read the steamy bits? 

Even admitting to reading romance novels is something many readers feel embarrassed to say out loud… let alone flaunting those books in a public space. 

Now, as I mentioned, I’m a romance author (and reader), and I’m proud of it. But whenever I meet someone new and they ask me about my career, I always wonder to myself, “How will they respond when they find out I write romance novels?”

Those reactions get even more interesting and unpredictable in a case like mine, because I write polyamorous romance novels: my characters are involved in consensually non-monogamous relationships. And I’m very open about it: the name of my book series is Polyamorous Passions.

Unfortunately, there’s a huge amount of (misplaced) stigma around polyamory in our society. Polyamory is about ethical, consensual non-monogamy: in its essence, it’s about welcoming and providing more love. It’s just as valid and healthy as any other form of relationship, but because there’s a lack of awareness or understanding about it, there’s a lot of pushback against it. 

Even in the romance community, there’s a lot of pushback! I’ve pitched my book to many romance book bloggers over the years, only to have a solid number of them respond by telling me they don’t approve of polyamory or they don’t agree with it. 

And that makes dealing with this kind of stigma more than a little bit challenging. After all… how do you go about marketing your book if so many readers out there aren’t even willing to give the subject matter a chance?

Writing a novel is a big enough undertaking, without it being in a niche or genre surrounded by a lot of stigma. 

Here are 5 tips for how to navigate writing in a niche that has a lot of stigma attached to it, so that you can promote yourself better and get your books in the hands of more readers…

Tip #1: Get clarity (internally) about why this subject matter is important to you, and your goals/purpose in sharing about it. 

Why are you telling this particular story? Why does it matter so much to include this particular subject matter in your novel? What is the purpose for including this subject matter in your novel, and what are your goals in doing so? 

Understanding on an internal level why this is important to you will enable you to have clearer messaging for marketing your book. It will make it easier for you to identify who your target audience is and where they spend their time. 

For example, with my Polyamorous Passions series, my purpose in writing the books is built on a foundation of increasing awareness about (healthy, positive) alternative relationship styles. Having clarity about my own internal goals for the books has been a useful exercise in connecting with readers. 

You can learn more about my purpose and goals in Episode 51 of this Indie Author Weekly podcast.

Tip #2: Be upfront and transparent with readers about the subject matter. 

You don’t want readers to be blindsided by your niche. State clearly that your novel includes your topic, so that readers know what to expect going into it. 

In my case, I’ve made this very easy for readers to see immediately what the subject matter is, because it’s in the title of the series—Polyamorous Passions. 

Of course, one of the problems with doing this is that a potential reader might be turned off right away, which brings us to our next tip...

Tip #3: Use more common tropes in your novels for crossover. 

Using tropes such as “enemies to lovers” or “fake relationship” or “secret romance” ensures that more readers will find your novel. 

Just because there’s stigma surrounding the subject matter of your book, doesn’t mean it can’t still be enjoyed by readers of all backgrounds. Draw them in with more common tropes to pique their curiosity right from the beginning, so that they are willing to give your novel a chance.

I truly believe that this helped a lot with my last romcom in the Polyamorous Passions series, Book 7: Her Bad Idea. The tropes include fake relationship, enemies to lovers, forced proximity, and dance competition romance. Promoting the book with those tropes at the forefront made it more appealing for readers who might otherwise have an immediate visceral reaction to the idea of polyamorous romances. 

By the way, you can grab your own copy of Her Bad Idea and the rest of the Polyamorous Passions series at your favourite e-bookstore, or visit SaganMorrow.com/books—link is in the show notes.

Tip #4: Find supportive cheerleaders, allies, and communities of people who approve of/understand your novel’s subject matter. 

It can be tough to break into mainstream audiences when your novel deals with stigmatized subject matter. The good news is, this usually means there are niche communities you can connect with on a deeper level! 

Make meaningful connections with communities that embrace or celebrate your subject matter. People in these communities can act as advocates for your books and help you get the word out there that much more. And even if you aren’t active in those communities, find your cheerleaders who support you and promote your work with the full understanding and embracing of your novel’s subject matter.

Tip #5: Use social media as a platform to share more information about the subject matter in general. 

What do you want readers (or the general public) to know about this subject matter? Sharing news stories, podcast episodes, quotes, expert interviews, anecdotes, statistical data, and other resources about the stigmatized subject matter can be a great way to help your social media followers understand more about it, and, over time, be more amenable to it. 

We fear that which we do not understand. Typically, the reason you might experience pushback around a stigmatized topic is because readers don’t know much about it. The lack of awareness makes them uncomfortable. So the more you can spread awareness and share information about the topic, the more they’ll understand it, and the more comfortable they’ll become around it... and the more interested they’ll be in reading your book. 

I’d love to hear what you think of this, so post about your thoughts on Twitter or Instagram, and then tag me, @Saganlives, so we can keep this conversation going beyond the podcast.

To recap, those 5 tips include: 

  1. Get some clarity
  2. Be transparent
  3. Use common tropes
  4. Find your supportive community
  5. Educate on your platforms

You can still have success with your author career, even if you write a novel in a stigmatized niche! We sometimes just have to be a little more creative with our marketing efforts. At the end of the day, your story wants to be told. Get out there and share it with the world! You’ve got this.

And getting back to what I mentioned earlier in this episode, about hiding book covers in public—I encourage you to really think about it, each time. Why are you doing it? Do you really need to do that? What the consequences of doing it? For example, when my spouse Mr Science and I opened up our relationship, I got him to read polyamory books like The Ethical Slut. At first, he felt a little odd about reading them on the plane, which is when he did most of his reading because he travelled so much… but then he realized that it was actually a GOOD thing to bring out that book in a public place, because it helped to normalize polyamory and perhaps get a conversation going with the person sitting next to him. 

So the next time you’re reading a book that has some stigma around it, why not read it in public, proudly? The very act of doing that can help to reduce the stigma. It’s something simple that can actually make a big difference. 

And since we’re in a pandemic right now, another way you can do this is to post a photo of yourself reading that book and share it on social media. On a personal note, I love seeing when you’re reading my books! So please do post those photos and tag me, @Saganlives, on Twitter or Instagram—it’s a great way to be part of the conversation and part of a real movement to reduce stigma around both the romance genre and polyamory.

And that, my friend, is a wrap for today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly! Access the show notes for this episode, including all links and additional resources, at SaganMorrow.com/podcast.

Thank you so much for tuning in. Please take 2 minutes to rate and review Indie Author Weekly on Apple Podcasts—I really appreciate your support. 

Until next week, this is Sagan Morrow, signing off the Indie Author Weekly podcast.