Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What Happens When Authors Change Genres?

This post is brought to you by the Insecure Writer's Support Group, an online group where writers can express doubts and concerns, and those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance.

~  ~  ~

I'm not sure if this counts as an insecurity exactly, but it's a question that I'm sure many writers have asked themselves, and one that I've been pondering for some time.

So here's the bottom line: I've been writing fantasy for the past several years. I've published those fantasy novels. People have loved them. Now I'm moving away from fantasy to write some contemporary romance.

What's going to happen? Will my Creepy Hollow readers not really be interested in picking up my new novels and thus "forget" about me? Or (hopefully), will my Creepy Hollow readers cross over to try my contemp books? Will my new contemp readers cross over to try my fantasy books?

I have no idea! Honestly, I think it'll probably be a mixture of those options I've mentioned in the paragraph above. Some readers stick to one genre only. Others like to read across various genres.

And here's the other thing to think about ... Some writers will only write in different genres if they use a different pen name. I've decided not to do that. I'm Rachel Morgan and I can't imagine "being" anyone else! And I've seen writers who use the same pen name across genres go on to become fantastically successful in each of those genres (ahem ... Susan Kaye Quinn), so I know it can be done!

What do you think? Do you have experience of this?
 Have you published in multiple genres? Do you use different pen names?


Annalisa Crawford said...

That's an interesting question. I've never written in a specific genre - my short stories hop around quite a lot. I think you could definitely write under the same name because your covers/titles at the moment are definitely fantasy and a comtemp cover/title would be very different.
In my opinion.

Cathrina Constantine said...

I'm at the same crossroad. But I say go for it. There are so many genres that crossover right now that it boggles the mind. My debut novel is a ya/paranormal fantasy, and I have a ms being shopped around that's ya/contemporary. I've kept my pen name with all. My thoughts on my own pen name were-- if I switched totally from YA to Adult I might use a different pen name.

Shah Wharton said...

I enjoy fantasy but contemporary romance hold no interest for me, personally. But that's not the same for everyone. Also, I imagine it depends on how ardent your fans are... enough to try a genre they dislike? Of course, many readers aren't as interested in 'genre' as they are great storytelling, so I imagine they wouldn't care less if they liked your style.

I just don't get pen names - full stop!

Whatever happen, all the best of luck Morgan. :)

Arlee Bird said...

Interesting--I just suggested this to Captain Alex. I like it when an author writes outside an expected genre.

Tossing It Out

Juliana Haygert said...

I genre hop all the time - and so far my contemp is doing better than my fantasy books ...
Also, as you can see, I have only one name - and I don't think about a pen name and won't think about a pen name unless I write something like erotica, which won't happen. It's easier for my readers to find me with one name - and to help them I always add notes on the blurbs telling them exactly what genre that book is.

Anonymous said...

I can only speak as a fan, but since you introduced me to fantasy novels, it would be nice to read something from you in a genre I love. And, the romantic tension in the Creepy Hollow series is enough to make me believe your contemporary romance is going to be amazing. Can't wait to see what you come up with.

Cherie Reich said...

I genre-hop, but it hasn't been a problem so far since not that many have read my work. I've considered having a pen name when I do decide to write contemporary (as opposed to spec fic), but right now I'm once again leaning against that side. We are our own brand. As long as we make it clear what we're writing, then readers can make the decision to join us in the next genre or not.

And a side note, I really don't get why people read only one genre. I love books from all different genres.

Isis Rushdan said...

I plan to switch genres in late 2014. I don't want to use a pen name, but would if a publisher insisted.

Cara Bristol said...

I switched from contemporary to sci-fi/fantasy, and my SFR erotic romance has been by most successful novel. I think sometimes one needs to move outside of one's genre to keep the fresh ideas flowing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Is there romance in both genres? I don't see why you couldn't use your real name.

Brandon Ax said...

I think you are right about it being a mixture. It goes into what people like to read and also there are those that will read something because you wrote it. Good luck.

Andrew Leon said...

I think authors should write the stories they have no matter the genre or what genres they've previously written in.

SA Larsenッ said...

Funny I hopped over here directly after visiting Kelly H. and her pen name slash leap in genre announcement. You should check it out, if you already haven't. I think she went about writing two genres very well.

P V Ariel said...

Hi Rachel,
Great and Good advice to the people who quite often change their pen name. good to know that you stick on to one, thats great too
Keep Going
Keep inform

Carrie-Anne said...

I've got some soft sci-fi/futuristic books on hiatus, and plan to return to them someday. It's quite a departure from my historical forte, and possibly not what my future readership would expect after establishing myself in the historical genre.

I've thought about writing some erotica, and I'd definitely need another pen name for that. I don't want my Orthodox friends to get the wrong impression of me, esp. since a number of my Orthodox friends trust me with their children.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Hmmm pen name, pen name...moving on. You are a great writer Rachel and if anyone can keep her fans around is you. I went from contemporary girl to fantasy but since creating my blog and connecting with so many writers I have rediscovered my love for contemporary and have even bought a few just by recommendations alone. So go for it Rachel and congrats on all your success.

Cally Jackson said...

Well this fan will follow you from genre to genre. I think as long as it's clear in your marketing what genre the book is, nobody should be upset. :-)

I guess you could say that I'm changing genres too, as The Big Smoke was contemporary new adult while my current work in progress is a young adult time travel drama. I'd say it's closer to fantasy than sci fi but I'll be seeking advice on how to categorise it later down the track.

Michael Pierce said...

I think it would be fun to explore different genres. As soon as I finish my fantasy series, I have ideas for dystopian, horror, and contemporary. I don't want to feel like I'm writing the same stories over and over. I say explore! :)

E.J. Wesley said...

I'm my planning my first full-length novel release for next year, Rachel--it's contemporary (romance-ish)--and I'm nervous, too.

It's not even so much the fan base or anything for me, it's just that I'm really comfortable writing fantasy. It's the majority of what I watch and read.

I've learned that I can bring my "voice" into any genre and it makes the genre feel like it's coming from me, instead of me trying to conform to a genre (if that makes an sense whatsoever LOL). So I think my fans will enjoy it.

Plus, I do feel like genre jumping isn't nearly such a big deal today as it was pre-digital. 15 years ago if you went into a bookstore looking for Stephen King, you'd walk directly to the horror section. If he had a book in romance you'd likely never know it unless you were specifically looking for it.

Now, most people will just Google or Amazon search your name and everything you've done comes to them. I think reader expectations was a small part of why publishers discouraged genre jumping before. The bigger issue was brand visibility, and I'm not certain that's even a barrier anymore.

But I'm still nervous about the switch! :D As others have said, you're a dedicated author and a talented writer, so it'll probably take care of itself. :)

Crystal Collier said...

I'm like you--write for multiple genres and am unwilling to build an alter ego. Enough effort goes into a single author platform, why in the world would you build a second? (Unless your writing picture books and erotica.)

Pippa Hornby said...

I am just finishing my first novel; it's a contemporary YA. But I also have a half-written detective story floating around. I think I would write under the same name but make it very clear that the genres are different. (Unless of course it turns into a young adult detective story. .. hmm. ..)