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CynV
12-29-2009, 04:01 AM
I'm curious of your opinions. When you are first starting out building your writing career how important is it to stick to one genre? I've heard that a lot of authors will use a pseudonym when they write in different genres so as not to confuse their readers. But is that only true of established authors?

I did an interview recently where the host said I was a "cross-genre" author. Is that necessarily a bad thing? What do you think?

Ehab.Ahmed
12-29-2009, 04:35 AM
I also had heard that. Cross-genre first timers are not encouraged, or so I had heard. But it's not necessarily a bad thing as long your writing's good. I'm not published, so that's my opinion.

ETA: I just realized you're a published author, Cynthia. So pretty much of what I said doesn't apply to you.

Claudia Gray
12-29-2009, 08:48 AM
Opinions differ on the pseuds issue, Cyn, but that's only one aspect of the "stick to one genre, at least at first" rule. Essentially, you want to give yourself time to (a) learn about the publishing business, (b) learn how you will write with the pressures of deadlines, etc. and (c) build a readership. It's a lot easier to do that in one genre than in several, where you basically have to start from scratch in each individual genre.

The first thing I thought when I sold my YA series was, "Yay! Now I can try to sell a thriller, too!" After a few long talks with my agent, I realized this was not really my best game plan. Finally, this year -- four years after I signed that first contract -- I am going to try to sell something outside the YA genre. But I feel much better about that now that I have learned more about publishing and have an established genre to work from.

Kalyke
12-29-2009, 09:17 AM
That is like telling an actor he or she is only "Allowed" to do comedies. Sure, some are better in comedies than others, but many transition just fine. This is a form of art and public entertainment-- To say there is a "rule" is just silly. You can, and should do many different things. You can also do only one thing well and there is no reason why you cant. but that is limiting yourself. I am trying to carve out my own "type" of writing. One where people want to read something by "me" rather than one genre of writing-- like Chuck Palenuick (probably misspelled). His readers read him because he wrote it, not because it is one genre or another. That's my goal.

unicornjam
12-29-2009, 01:19 PM
If my understanding of cross-genre is correct (black comedy, weird West, dark fantasy), I see nothing wrong with it.

Jamesaritchie
12-29-2009, 08:19 PM
The trouble with new writers writing in more than one genre is that they too often try doing so before they've mastered the first. Until and unless you can get published, and more likely multi-published, in one genre, you probably don't have the skills to write in more than one.

There will be plenty of time to write in other genres later, after you've established that you can write and sell novels in a first genre. Until then, writing too widely can dilute skills and talent, and makes success slower, if it comes at all.

Libbie
12-29-2009, 09:13 PM
I'm curious of your opinions. When you are first starting out building your writing career how important is it to stick to one genre? I've heard that a lot of authors will use a pseudonym when they write in different genres so as not to confuse their readers. But is that only true of established authors?

I did an interview recently where the host said I was a "cross-genre" author. Is that necessarily a bad thing? What do you think?

I think it's VERY important to stick to one genre initially. In order to have a career (which I am defining as enough reliable work in this field to support yourself comfortably, without working at another job) you need to have a lot of eager readers and a backlist. It takes a few years to build both these things. You won't build fans or backlist by producing one item -- say, a thriller -- and then jumping over to something that doesn't have a lot of crossover readers -- romance, for example -- and then over to sci-fi, and then to literary fiction.

Of course, writing other stories is FUN, and most of us want to do it. Yes, pen names are good for that. But writing Book X takes time away from writing Book Y. Unless you are preternaturally fast and good (some are!) you probably can't expect to build a career by writing cross-genre early on in your time as a writer.

There are exceptions, of course. I know some of them personally. But for most of us, stick to one genre until you've sold four or five books in that genre, and all are still in print -- then move onto something fresh and fun.

Or, build your chops up so you DO have the skills to write several books per year.

Amarie
12-29-2009, 09:40 PM
I'm sticking with one genre for a few years, because I do want to build a career and try to get some name recognition. After that I may attempt to branch out.

CynV
12-30-2009, 08:47 AM
Good points, one and all.

I believe it's fair to say that most authors write what they enjoy reading. I'm partial to contemporary thrillers/suspense novels and I also like fantasy novels (old world stuff like Conan, etc). I get my ideas randomly, I've never sat down and sought out an idea for a novel...it just comes to me. The majority of it is contemporary but sometimes I get the random fantasy idea.

I've been published in both. I seem to go back and forth between genres. But in an effort to solidify a brand for myself I am leaning towards the contemporary as my main genre of choice.

Although I think Use Her Name has a great outlook when you said:


I am trying to carve out my own "type" of writing. One where people want to read something by "me" rather than one genre of writing-- like Chuck Palenuick (probably misspelled). His readers read him because he wrote it, not because it is one genre or another. That's my goal.

Good writing will sell itself.