Recently I changed my Instagram biography to say Multi-Genre Author and today I began to reflect on what that really means and the ramifications of it. There is a lot of commentary on this subject and there is a clear divide between what people think and who these people are. In previous years it has been held that authors must stick to one genre in order to be successful, but times are changing and this rule does not hold true anymore. Therefore, before I get into what the critics are saying I want to tell you what I think.
I am not saying that people who read my fantasies must read my romances because that may not be what you are into and I understand that, I just hope I do not lose fans. That is the scary thing about switching between genres, as publishers think that your readership will get angry and you will lose followers. I guess that is the risk you have to take. These days’ readers are more exploratory and are forgiving of authors who venture elsewhere from their marketed genre. To me, I do not care if an author jumps around in categories. For instance, Anne Rice is a famed paranormal fiction writer who also writes erotica under the pen name A.N. Roquelaure.
As her fans we know that it is her work and so she has now forgone her pen name for erotica and presents it under Anne Rice. I, for one will read her newest erotica book because her paranormal fiction is laden with a sensual undertone and it makes me intrigued by what she could do without the restricts of that other genre. I think it would be superb. That is why I think that multi genre authors give the readers a more in depth experience as their other interests are expressed within their works. As mentioned with Anne Rice the sensuality in her Vampire Chronicles speaks of her erotica experience. Whereas, I find that writers of only one genre can be two dimensional as they are not practicing their strengths in other areas. For instance, some fantasy writers have a little romance thrown into their epics, however they can seem quite lifeless and boring.
On one side of the ring we have the writers boasting that they should have creative licence to write whatever they want and on the other side of we have literary agents as well as publishing houses saying hell no.
Straightaway you may be stressing about the fact that literary agents and publishing houses are against their writers creating books of different genres, however this is based purely on a marketing perspective. When your novel gets picked up, your representatives will flood the book market with propaganda to sell your work and that means pushing it on the people who love that particular genre. To them, if your next book is in a different genre their hard work is lost as they spent their resources establishing your name within a particular field. Not to mention, you may not be as popular in the other genre and they will lose money.
Do not let this dishearten you, there are many authors out there who have many successful books which vary between genres. Some of them have created an alter ego to ensure that their good name in a singular genre is not tainted. It is also to prevent fans from picking up their new romance when they think they are buying a mystery, only to become disappointed. Nevertheless, there are authors who have a multitude of different genres under their belts labelling it as their own, take James Patterson for instance. However, times are changing and in the publishing world it is becoming more common for authors to opt out the pen name and stand true to themselves. That is because their fans know it’s their work anyway and ultimately there is no point. Nora Jones who is a famed contemporary romance writer is known for her mysteries despite her pen name.
The truth behind the matter is that once you have proven your value to your publisher the reins get looser and you can branch out (at least that is the advice I have been given). However, when you are starting out it is suggested to make one genre your star and flog that for all it is worth for a while.
Therefore, with that in mind the stance that I will take and the one I advise to you to consider (if you wish to write in multiple fields) is to create a market for yourself within one genre predominately. Once you have established yourself then you can spread your wings and explore other genres. It makes you and your publisher happy, plus you have the joy of giving your readership the option of experiencing another type of writing they may not have tried before. I don’t think that I will use a pen name, I do not see the point since my readers will already know it me writing it. If James Patterson can do it, I can do it and so can you.
What do you think about this debate and what side are you on? By the way, I have only considered the differing genres within fiction, I will not open the floodgates to discuss the cross over between fiction and non-faction writing. I do not dare for now. Let me know your thoughts!