USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.
Switching genres is not a black and white issue but a function of the writer’s objective.
Writers by nature are a curious, opinionated and creative bunch. That means there is a tendency to write about whatever inspired them. Sadly this impulsive creativity wars with, and can undermine, the business of being creative.
So, if you are a writer whose primary concern is to explore all levels of your craft, writing in many different genres will be fulfilling. But if your primary concern were to use your writing to build a creative business, it would be wise to stick to one genre. Here is why:
1) Concentrating on one genre creates a dedicated fan base.
2) One genre allows the author to create a cohesive personal brand
3) Readers will know where to find you on the bookshelf whether it is in a brick and mortar or a digital bookstore.
4) Writers usually excel in one genre. To write in a completely different genre that is not as strong as your primary one only serves to dilute your brand.
This is not to say you can’t have diversity in your writing career. If you’re a thriller writer, it can take months to craft a 100,000-word novel. Writing shorter genre romantic suspense might satisfy your desire to write in a separate genre, allow you to bring out more books each year, and your output will still appeal to your fan base while growing a cross-over fan base in romantic suspense. Do you write fantasy? Then try magical realism. Do you write romance? Cross over to women’s fiction or sagas. Just remember to make your secondary market tangential to your primary.
New writers may want to try on different genres for size to find out where their strengths lie. Established authors who want to try a completely different genre may want to consider a pseudonym. Either way, the first thing to do is decide what your career objective is and then make a genre plan to meet it.
[tweetshare tweet=”Dear Extra Squeeze Team: Do I HAVE to keep writing in the same genre?” username=”@A_SliceofOrange”]
I’m so torn. I know that I need to focus on one genre, and the two genres that I most enjoy writing in are not closely related. I’m writing serious women’s fiction, and contemporary romantic comedy. It’s not that I don’t want to focus on one. It’s more like I watch all kinds of movies, I read many genres of books, and of course I’d enjoy writing in many genres. But I actually use the romantic comedy to kind of clear my mind when I’m working on darker heavier fiction. I hadn’t wanted to use a pseudonym, but maybe that’s the answer. Or maybe I should just right the romantic comedy for myself.
Thank you all for your sharing your knowledge and experience!!
Tari, maybe you could do both. Kate Carlisle did contemporary romance and cozy mystery until her mysteries really took off.