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Earning a Reputation

by Christa Kinde

As an author, I have a reputation. I’m not ashamed of it, but it isn’t really the sort of label I had in mind when I set out to tell stories. Now, I’m not talking about those snazzy accolades we plaster on dust jackets.

“Best-selling.”

“Critically-acclaimed.”

“Award-winning.”

“Highly-anticipated.”

I’m talking about the words readers choose. Do you see a trend in the feedback you get from critique groups and contest judges? Is there an adjective that crops up over and over in your slew of reviews? Has your audience collectively chosen a word that rings true?

For better or for worse, that’s your reputation. It’s the word-of-mouth word that recommends you to potential readers.

Maybe your books could be the basis of the next feel-good movie of the summer. Heart-warming.

Is your rom-com famous for quirky characters and laugh-out-loud antics? Hilarious.

Do your coming-of-age stories break readers’ hearts before binding them up again? Moving.

Are reviewers raving about the deft layering of inner and outer conflict in your suspense? Complex.

What label would you like to see attached to your body of work?

Intense?

Poignant?

Riveting?

Satisfying?

Wanna know what word I get the most? Cute.
Pursuing Prissie
Yep. I have a reputation for “cute” stories. Which is slightly embarrassing for someone billed as an action/adventure storyteller in the speculative genre.

Like any writer, I labor over the details in my books. I’m a stickler for plausible progression, consistent characterization, and purpose-filled scenes. My goals include witty repartee, subtle foreshadowing, frequent biblical allusions, and twists that turn a reader’s expectations on their head. Not d’awww.

Cute sounds flimsier than a soap bubble, but does that mean my books lack weight or depth? Certainly not. But the lasting impression, the lingering emotion, the final word … is cute. And maybe they’re right. And maybe that’s fine. Because our books spring from soul-deep places. Stories reveal pieces of an author’s heart. And mine will ever and always be hopeful, joyous, and tending to mischief.

Earning a reputation as an author goes hand-in-hand with gaining your reader’s trust. If you leave a lasting impression, they won’t forget the story even after THE END. If they appreciate the emotions that linger in your story’s wake, they’ll crave more of the same. And if you stay true to yourself and your voice, those readers will follow you across series and genre.

Because they trust you.

The highest compliments my stories have been paid are laughter, tears, and a warmly-expressed intention to reread. But the thing I cherish most from my readers is their trust.

So I’ll keep writing the kinds of stories I love. And if I’m forever dubbed “cute,” I’ll laugh and say, “thanks.”
Because making fourteen-year-old girls squee may be my super power. What’s yours?

I’m eager to hear what words are trending in your feedback. Do tell!

Christa KindeChrista Kinde’s Threshold Series is an angel-filled adventure from Zonderkidz that’s complete in four volumes. Her most recent release is Pursuing Prissie, a ten-years-later sequel involving well-armed heavenly warriors, a creepy fallen angel … and apparently much cuteness. Christa also writes family-friendly fantasy under her maiden name – C. J. Milbrandt.

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