A Cowboy, a Vampire, and a Detective Walk into a Bar…The Key to Writing in Different Genres
A few years ago, conventional wisdom dictated that an author should only write in one genre—at least until becoming well established. I think this has changed. With the advent of eBooks and the ability to take some risks, many authors have published across genres quite successfully. What’s fascinating is watching how readers committed to one genre will follow an author into another imaginary realm just because they enjoy that author’s work.
I found that writing in different genres is a good way to build a fan base quickly. But there are a few key items to keep in mind.
Choose the right cover for each book. A cover needs to be more than intriguing and wonderful – it needs to visually describe the book. If you’re with a traditional publisher, you don’t get to choose your cover, but your editor and the art department will work hard with you to get the right feel. If you’re writing a vampire novel, put one on the cover. If it’s a sweet romance, have some flowers or a porch swing on the pretty cover. You know what I mean. Our readers need to know they’re following us into a new genre, and they have to do so willingly. Every so often I’ll see a cover on Amazon that looks intriguing, and then I’ll read the back cover blurb, and they don’t mesh. If you have a dark paranormal, putting a pretty butterfly on the cover is misleading.
Be complete in the back cover blurb. It’s surprising that so many back cover blurbs out there don’t really clue the reader in to a genre. If a book itself includes a couple of genres (another no-no a few years ago that’s perfectly fine now), then make it be known. My newest romantic suspense book, Sweet Revenge, also has some paranormal elements in it, and the back cover blurb hints at those. Hopefully enough that my die hard paranormal fans will take a peek.
Let your voice remain steady. I can’t stress this enough—don’t change your voice just to change genres. Your voice is what makes your writing unique and should be constant through all of the different genres you may tackle. A year or so ago, rumors had it that paranormal romances were soft, and a few of my friends turned to writing historicals—some quite successfully, and some not so much. The ones who struggled tried to change their natural writing styles and voice in order to sound more historical. The successful ones took their established voices and styles and added them to the elements in a historical. It goes back to the advice our mothers gave us in kindergarten – just be yourself.
Learn the genre you’re writing. Even though your voice and style should remain all yours, different genres do require different pacing, narrative vs. action, and plot points. In paranormal books, the world building is key. In romantic suspense, those plot twists and turns intrigue readers. Of course, you might throw a few twists and turns into your contemporary romance…just don’t include werewolves.
Take a risk or two. It’s easy to get comfortable in a genre once you build a fan base, but writing is about being creative, and being creative is about taking chances. Yeah, you might fail. Get back up and try again. This business is about persistence, dedication to craft, and imagination. Let them all fly. I posted one of my early rejection notecards on my Facebook page the other day to encourage a couple of folks to keep writing, and one fan asked me how I kept writing after being rejected. The question caught me off guard, and there was only one answer. I kept writing because I’m the only one who can make myself quit, and quitting was never an option. So many people in this world want to write a book, and so few actually try. If you’re writing, you’re already ahead of the game. Don’t hold yourself back now.
So, to sum up, if you want to have some fun and write in different genres, go for it. Be smart about it and let your creativity free. I hope you find all the success possible!