Monday, February 21, 2011

Multi-Genre Writing

I'm guilty of doing this. I have dozens of stories (actually I think it was 35 at last count) in a variety of genres. I pretty much jot down any and every story idea that passes through my mind. No, I don't always finish them, but I plan to. Don't give me that look.

Then I started wondering about what would happen when I became published. Would I be able to sell all those stories? Would a publisher/agent want to represent all these different genres?

So I hopped online and did some research. Asked around. And much to my disappointment--the answer was usually no. Talk about a killjoy. I know about half y'alls hearts just broke, and I'm right there with you. Believe me. But let's talk about WHY not.

Authors, especially new ones, should pick a genre--a niche--and stick with it. Build a career on it. There is a reason this advice is the one most widespread. Agents work hard to get you published and once that happens, the publisher will expect (if your book does well) more titles from you in the genre that agent sold them on. It won't go well with your agent if you send him/her another novel--in an entirely different genre. It doesn't matter how good it is.

Yes, you'd think agents would be thrilled to represent that talented of an author. That they'd go running to the biggest publisher and exclaim, "I've got gold!"

But the truth is they don't want that. And here's why.

Let's say Imma Writer writes a horror novel. It's perfect. Frightening, bloody, and just screams #1. She gets an agent (Heesah Agent) who agrees to represent her. He finds her a publisher and soon her books sells 30,000 copies. The people and publisher demand more. So Imma sends a brand new MS to her agent--an erotic thriller.

Hold the phone!

Heesah Agent is not happy. This is a problem.

What do you think those 30,000 copies sold mean? That her book was a hit? Well, yes. Duh. But it also means that she has 30,000 people who liked her book enough to buy it and are waiting for more. Another horror. If you switch genres after your first book, you are pretty much throwing away the audience you've already built.

This was disappointing to me because I have so many wonderful stories in all sorts of genres. So hearing that made me realize--I gotta pick just one. One!

But then there are authors who have managed to make successful careers in multiple genres. Of course, they are big time sellers like Nora Roberts...but it is possible.

So what do you think? Do you/have you written in multiple genres? Do you think it's possible or that it should/shouldn't be done?

Who knows. Maybe you don't agree with a word in this blog post. :)

Happy Writing!


  1. Totally agree with sticking with one genre. So I guess the point is to chose the genre you enjoy the most and write the others on the side. Look at the Master of Horror, Stephen King. Whatever he touches will sell because of his name but his biggest sellers will always be horror. Sure the Dark Tower series was fantastic, his short stories are captivating and has anyone read Eye of the Dragon? He never really escaped the moniker of horror writer. But horror is how he started and what got him out of that trailer park he lived in. I believe you have to silence those pestering charecters in your head before they spill out into other works, so keep writing them...just not as much :)

  2. I agree with the whole stickinig to one genre thing. Especially as a newbie. It's fine when you're still trying to find what fits and all that--that's what writing communities are for. They are places for new authors trying to find what they're good at. Find what fits. Explore the genres. But once you figure it out, it's a good idea to stickk with it. Now, when you are a best seller--you can probably do what you want and get away with it. LOL. So then you can let all those other stories come out. Pen names are awesome for that. Great post.

  3. I loved this post. I totally agree with sticking with one genre. I write High Fantasy. I have other stories that are not, but I know I won't be able to publish them early in my career if my first novel is an epic fantasy, unless I pull a Jane Anne Krentz. LOL. Lucky for me, High Fantasy is what I love most.

    Awesome post!


  4. I agree to sticking to one genre. When you read an author, you expect their work to become familiar to you. You know what to expect as far as their style, their stories to be different yet familiar in a good way.

    I've written in mainly romance--within two romance sub-genres: Urban paranormal romance (vampires) and fantasy (HB books). But I've been considering writing a dark fairy tale thriller (maybe two) based around, especially, the classic tale of "Little Red Riding Hood". Most likely, I'll use a pen name for them though...

    I just gotta pick a name. LOL

  5. Thank you all so much for the comments. I still get excited when ppl take the time to read my blog posts :) So glad you all found it helpful. And yes I totally agree--one genre is best. Yeah, my mind wanders but I love romance (thank goodness) and I will continue to write just that. Anything else will have to wait or be something I do as personal enjoyment :D
    Thanks again

  6. I agree with sticking to one genre but I also think that's what pen names are for. Still, I guess you shouldn't mention it to the agent representing you until after you've become more of an established author. This definitely gave me food for thought :)

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