Friday, November 18, 2011

Re-Branding: Without The Sex Club

By L.J. Sellers, author of provocative mysteries & thrillers
I rarely use this forum to talk about my books, but recently I made a decision about my series that involves the broader topics of branding and reader perception.

In this evolving industry, writers must adapt quickly as well as continuously search for new ways to reach new readers. In that mode, I’ve decided to re-brand my Detective Jackson series by listing Secrets to Die For as the primary book and creating a new cover for it.
The first book on my Jackson list used to be The Sex Club, a title I've come to believe turns away as many readers as it draws in. The story has served me well, and thousands of readers have loved it. It will always be a favorite, and I'll continue to sell it. When I only had a few books on the market, it was an important part of my work.

But now that I'm about to launch my 10th book, and I'm poised to reach a huge new audience, I've decided I don't want The Sex Club to be the first thing new readers see about me. I don't want to be defined—and possibly rejected—by this title.

I considered simply changing the name, but thousands of people have read it—and loved it—and I'm not willing to annoy my faithful readers who might buy the story again with a new title, not realizing they've already read it. And a new title wouldn’t alter the content, which is equally disturbing to some conservative readers.

So I’m moving The Sex Club into my standalone thriller column. The truth is when I wrote the novel, it was intended to be a standalone with dual protagonists. Then at some point, it occurred to me the detective would make a great series character. When I wrote Secrets to Die For three years later, I based it on the Jackson character, thinking I’d try to make a series of it. So Secrets is really the first book I intended as the start of a series. Of course, readers can begin with either one.

In simple terms, this is a very competitive market with ebooks selling for $.99 and $2.99, and I can’t afford to alienate thousands of potential readers with one little word.

This has been a huge undertaking. I'm not only creating a whole new website, I also had to make a change in my "titles list" and republish each of my ebooks. I've also had to redo my bio everywhere it's posted online! And I'm sure I haven't found them all yet.

But with millions of new people joining the e-reading revolution, I think this move makes sense. What do think of this re-branding decision? Brilliant or cowardly? Worthwhile or waste of time?


  1. I'm not sure how it will work out LJ, but it relates to something that happened to me this week.

    I picked up James Lee Burke and read Tin Roof Blowdown. I enjoyed the book but I was really put off by the politics. It felt like the book was written with an agenda and when I finished that book I knew I wouldn't read him again.

    This reminds me to tell stories and entertain readers and to examine my own bias before it ends up in print.

    I hope the rebranding is a success.

    10 books! Can't believe you've got 10 books out now. Amazing.

  2. First of all, congratulations on your tenth release! Wowzer! And you're only twenty-five!

    I'm one of those readers you never would have had, unless I'd seen you lament about THE SEX CLUB's title online. I don't read erotica. Even, dare I say, mysterious or thrilling erotica. Because of that little quirk, it's unlikely I would have had the pleasure of ever reading about Detective Jacskon.

    My call? Good move, Ms. Sellers.

  3. I recall meeting you at LCC last year, and you'd mentioned your books. I searched on my NOOK and found the first three or four books with that title were erotica, and had I not been sitting in the room listening to you speak, I doubt I'd have bought the title.

    I can see your conundrum regarding changing the title unless you made it very clear up front that it was "previously published as..."

    And I need a new website, too, especially since my next release is going to be straight mystery.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  4. Thanks for the support. I know this transition won't be smooth, especially since so many of the reviews for Secrets to Die For mention the first book. But still, I'm giving readers (who think they need to start at the beginning) permission to skip The Sex Club if they want to. :)

  5. Aaah. Well, L.J., I'm one of those people who think that THE SEX CLUB was a provocative title and it brought you to the fore in a world where you could have spent a lot of time trying to get a foothold.

    Think of the any publicity is good publicity mantra.

    However, with 10 books in your stable, perhaps you no longer need to be the radical vying for attention.


    P.S. I'd happily have an epub to review.

  6. I say it's a smart move, LJ. I got several snide remarks when I was reading The Sex Club, from people who only saw the title, and I didn't feel like explaining. Plus the teen sex probably may have put off a few readers. Excellent story, but it's a good move to use it as a stand-alone.

    I can't wait to read the one you're just finishing up now!

  7. L J, you know I've read every one of your books and have enjoyed them all. I'm glad you are addressing the Sex Club thing because I feel it has caused many people to not give you the attention you deserve. Keep up the good work.

  8. I'm on the fence with this one, but my gut instinct tells me the title did more good than harm. I never once had the impression the book was anything but a suspense thriller. I also know enough to realize that titles are often not what they appear to be.

    But figuring out the reading public's thoughts are about as easy as climbing a wall of Jello, and I can't do either. All I can do is what I've always done: trust my instincts, and it sound like that's what you are doing now. Can't go wrong.

    TEN books? I wanna be you when I grow up! If I ever do.... Congrats and best wishes on your upcoming.

  9. Just as info, I sold the translation rights to The Sex Club to a Turkish publisher, and they renamed it Obsession. Which is not bad. But we already have a few books here with that title.

  10. L.J.

    Although I've not read any of your books, I do not find your title a put-off at all. And obviously, it has sold, along with your other books. I would think your book description is what sells that book--and we most often overlook titles. Of course, titles often do gain attention but what is between the covers is really what matters.

    If I were you I'd be proud of your work and success and not worry about it. Congratulations on your 10th book.

  11. Thanks Linda! I am proud of The Sex Club. It's a terrific story, and it launched my career. I just don't want to be defined by it.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.