As a writer I had plan before I started writing my debut novel THE LEOPARD VANGUARD, which would be the first book of my LEOPARD KING SAGA Historical Fantasy Series. I wanted not just to create one world but an entire universe.
Going back to my life as a retail management professional I remembered how some of the best sales teams I built were also the most diverse. Folks coming from different backgrounds, yet they all wanted the same thing, to be the most successful they could be, not just in sales, but in life. Back then I imparted what I called, the “Universal Know-How” model into each team member: putting aside trivial differences by bringing them together, by explaining how similar they really were. It took time, but I finally convinced them, and we excelled in providing the best service & products to our customers. I used the “Universal Know-How” model in every subsequent retail management or consulting position. It worked.
When I decided I wanted to follow my dream of being a fiction writer, I took this experience and applied it to my books. Yes, The Leopard King Saga is Fantasy, but I wanted to give my readers the option to expand their horizons by writing intermediary books in between the main Leopard King Books. They didn’t have to read these intermediary books to understand my series, but if they did they’d be finding themselves in a much bigger universe. You always hear about “World-building” when you mention certain authors and books. But I wanted to take it a step further, I wanted to be “Universe-building.” That way the reader would be the winner. Diversity + Universal building=more happy readers.
Despite pleas from a New York Times Bestselling author I know who said: “stick with fantasy”, I went ahead and took the plunge. After I published THE LEOPARD VANGUARD, I started writing a string of intermediary books that would be classified as Books 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3. These would serve, not only to expand the Universal brand of my Leopard King Series, but also to create a richer reading experience and build excitement for the Second book of the Leopard King Saga, The Leopard Stratagem.
First intermediary book was pure sci-fi, with a zombie apocalypse theme. The second, another sci-fi tale, but this one had time-travelling vampires, historical romance plus mystery sprinkled in (I know that’s a lot to digest but we’re universe-building here), the last was a heartwarming YA Fantasy tale of a special teenage boy with a disability. Sounds pretty diverse right? Right! Now if you’re a writer, you don’t have to go all out like I did at first, but think about expanding your writing, or your business on an experimental level first. Small steps.
In business, if your sales are slow, retool your product and begin branching out to offer new services. Get out of your comfort zone. Then combine that with a healthy dose of originality. Yes I wrote a zombie book (Who hasn’t these days? But Mine was different.) AND a vampire book (billions of them out there, LOL! But mine had a different flavor.) and FINALLY a YA coming-of-age tale (Same ole? same ole? Nope!) I took a different route and packaged all three of these tales into a UNIVERSE. If a reader didn’t feel like reading one Intermediary book but liked another, they could pick and choose however they wanted. Always give people options. I took a deep breath and exhaled. Despite my experience, I kept my expectations modest. Then something amazing happened…
Weeks later, fan mail started pouring in, I noticed that a lot of people were thanking me for giving them a richer reading experience. And they wanted to know when the second LEOPARD KING SAGA book would be out.
So there you are, a diversity business model converted into an artistic endeavor. And the best thing was…EVERYBODY won.
T.A. UNER is a former retail management professional who worked 15 years for Fortune 50 companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He blogs Four times a week about Writing, Self-Publishing, and Sales & Marketing.