How Original is Original?

I’m currently finishing up edits of Dragon Blue and should be done in the next day or two. I felt like I had a much better plan this time. I have about 30 ARC readers of my own lined up to read the book. I’m going to schedule promos for the first few days of actual release. And I’m going to put the book on preorder for a longer period this time.

But one thing kind of has me worried and/or bummed out. As I write this, the top three books in Romance>Werewolves & Shifters are dragon shifter books, and they’re all different colored dragons. Now, I had seen one of these books lower in the rankings before I started my book. But I didn’t know it was part of a series that would follow the [COLOR] Dragon template. The thing is, the actual content of the books sound very different. Those are set in a present-day city setting. Mine have a link to Earth, but mostly take place in the fantasy world of Xandakar. There are a number of other differences, but suffice it to say the actual stories are quite different.

So I’m plunging ahead. I can’t really change the templating of my naming scheme, because it’s important to the way the series unfolds. I’m just hoping readers don’t go “Oh, jeez, Macy just copied those other books.” But then, there’s the whole issue of copying anyway. Where is the line between writing a genre book that’s heavily defined by tropes and forging your own path? With this series, I was trying to satisfy what looked like a strong demand. Given that the top three shifter books are dragon-based, I’d say I was probably right. But a lot of the books in that category look very similar. It seems there’s a fine line between producing more of what people want and producing something original.

I’ve heard advocates of writing to market basically say that it’s almost impossible not to write something original, that it’s going to come from you as a unique story with whatever you bring to it. And I guess I’m not really worried about the story as being perceived as original, but the concept and marketing. I’m going to hope that readers of this genre are particularly forgiving when it comes to similarities in the looks of covers and titles, and that through reading the blurb and maybe some sample text they’ll be happy to read something that’s similar, but original.

I felt like The Time-Traveling Outlaw was an attempt to genre-bend and make something original. And that hasn’t done all that well. Reviews/ratings are strong, but sales are not.

I’m also nervous about how Dragon Blue is going to be received by my ARC readers. It’s got more sex than my last book, but it’s basically a fantasy adventure. It’ll probably be fine. At least I hope so.

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