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Sargentodiaz
02-26-2010, 07:55 PM
I received an email from my editor yesterday. In it, he hinted at a feeling that most authors could only write in one genre - it came because he knew that, in addition to the sequel he wants to see to work on, he knows I have a SciFi/Fantasy and a Thriller novel completed, as well as another Historical Fiction.

What is the general opinion? Are writers best working in one genre or can they move beyond?

[I recently read a historical fiction piece and checked the author out to discover he had more than 800 books in print - generally the same but with a hundred or more in another]

M.R.J. Le Blanc
02-26-2010, 08:24 PM
I think it's not unheard of for writers to dip in other genres. I think Nora Roberts did, under a penname. I know Anne Rice has, I think Stephen King also, might be a few others I'm not thinking of. I don't see why not, if it's a good enough story. What I've seen editors and agents suggest is that you use a different name for different genres, as readers of certain genres will have certain expectations to a book put out with your name on it.

Kitty27
02-26-2010, 08:27 PM
I never knew about the pen names,Le Blanc!

I write everything except poetry and have the same name on everything!

Jamesaritchie
02-26-2010, 09:14 PM
Most authors can't write in a single genre. I understand your editor's point, but it shows a lack of knowledge about all teh writer sout there who are successful in more than one genre. Any prolific writer probably write in more than one genre, and often in several.

Dean Koontz has written in at least four genres, and has used at least ten pseudonyms. Harlan Ellison has used more than two dozen pseudonym to write all sorts of fiction. I can't remember for sure, but I think it was Robert Silverberg who used more than fifty pseudonyms.

Some writers, such as Dan Simmons, write in more than one genre under the same name.

I'd say wriitng in more than one genre is the norm, if the writer is fast.

I've been writing different genres under different pseudonyms for years.

I think it's more about reading than writing. If you can write well enough to sell in one genre, and if you're a fairly fast writer, I think you can write on other genres, IF you love reading those genres, IF you spend just as much time reading those genres as you do reading the one you're selling in.

Claudia Gray
02-27-2010, 12:01 AM
You can't know whether you can establish yourself in multiple genres before you know whether you can establish yourself in one. I think the best bet is to concentrate in one genre first.* Figure out how you write, what kind of pace you can keep up on a publication schedule, see how you're doing, etc. Once you feel you have a solid foundation in one genre, then you can make an informed decision about branching out into another.

* I am talking post-publication here. Before publication, I think everybody ought to try as many genres as possible.

Jamesaritchie
02-27-2010, 02:23 AM
I'll disagree with Claudia just a little bit. I think it's before publication that writers should stick to one genre. Dissipate your talent by writing all over, and there's a good chance you'll never be published in any genre.

Concentrate on one genre until you prove you can write a salable book, which may mean writing five or seven or ten books before one sells, and then, after publication, you can expand as widely as your talent and writing speed allows.

Paul
02-27-2010, 02:27 AM
I received an email from my editor yesterday. In it, he hinted at a feeling that most authors could only write in one genre - it came because he knew that, in addition to the sequel he wants to see to work on, he knows I have a SciFi/Fantasy and a Thriller novel completed, as well as another Historical Fiction.

What is the general opinion? Are writers best working in one genre or can they move beyond?

[I recently read a historical fiction piece and checked the author out to discover he had more than 800 books in print - generally the same but with a hundred or more in another]

800 books? 800 books written by one person?
I simply don't believe that.
Or else I don't understand what that means

Jamesaritchie
02-27-2010, 04:49 AM
800 books? 800 books written by one person?
I simply don't believe that.
Or else I don't understand what that means

It's true. I can almost pull the writer's name out, but not quite. I wa sjust reaidng about him a couple of weeks ago. One other writer came very close to this, and a couple of others have hit four hundred.

All you have to do is write the same book every couple of weeks, changing the names of the characters, and the location of the setting.

lostwanderer5
02-27-2010, 01:49 PM
A lot of editors show this concern because they would rather build a brand name in one genre.

The readers of your historical books are not necessarily going to buy your science fiction book - so when you write first novel in a different genre, you are starting from scratch as far as reader awareness is concerned (unless you were best-seller and people were aware of your name being splashed all around the media).

But that's not to say that you can't write in multiple genre. I think initially though, while you are still learning the rope, it's most practical to have a solid base in at least one genre, and then you can branch out - unless the genres are similar enough to get same readers (i.e. paranormal romance / category romance).

I have fantasy-wip, multi-cultural wips, and science fiction outlines. Last year I made a conscious decision to focus only on fantasy and possibly sci-fi on a lesser level - but leave the multi-cultural ones alone for now - because they just don't get the same audience, and all the time I spend on that, I am taking away from building my name in Fantasy. Because I love Fantasy more than anything else, that's what I chose.

I have't given up on my other WIPs, but their time will come.

icerose
02-27-2010, 06:05 PM
*Raises hand* so far I've been paid in 5 genres. I personally tend to gravitate to thriller, horror, action/adventure, and fantasy.

Sargentodiaz
02-28-2010, 06:10 AM
I can't remember the author's name either but the books were in his "White Indian" series. After reading four of them, I did a Google to find out about the 800+.
And, I've recently paid attention to jacket info to see what other authors have done the same.

shaldna
03-15-2010, 04:04 PM
I think it's bull. I write multi genre, and so do alot of other writers. Nora Roberts writes thrillers and romance novels.

Stijn Hommes
03-15-2010, 04:27 PM
Your editor is worried about they can sell. You are as important as the book. Authors are a brand and when you write something new, your readers will have expectations. If you constantly change genre, you get the chance to build a loyal readership.

I don't know for sure what is your best option, but that's what's happening.

AdamH
03-15-2010, 05:54 PM
All you have to do is write the same book every couple of weeks, changing the names of the characters, and the location of the setting.

You can do this!?!?!?!??

And all this time I've trying to come up with unique stories and characters like a fool!

shaldna
03-16-2010, 12:18 AM
800 books? 800 books written by one person?
I simply don't believe that.
Or else I don't understand what that means

MARY FAULKNER (1903-1973) 904 books

LAURAN PAINE (b. 1916) 850 + books

PRENTISS INGRAHAM (1843-1904) 600 + books

JOZEF IGNACY KRASZEWSKI (1812-1887) 600 + books

ENID MARY BLYTON (1900?-1968) 600 books

JOHN CREASEY (1908-1973) 564 books

SUYUTI (1445-1505) 561 books

URSULA BLOOM (b. 1898?) 520 + books

GEORGES SIMENON (b. 1903) 500 + books

HOWARD ROGER GARIS (1873-1962) 500 + books

ISAAC ASIMOV (1920-1992_ 500+
ARTHUR WILLIAM GROOM (1898-1964) 400 + books

EDWARD ZANE CARROLL JUDSON (1823-1886) 400 + books

EDWARD L. STRATEMEYER (1862-1930) 400 + books

BAKIN (1767-1848) 300 + books

EVELYN EVERETT GREEN (1856-1932) 300 + books

NIGEL MORLAND (b. 1905) 300 + books

D. S. ROWLAND (b. 1928) 286 + books

BARBARA CARTLAND (b. 1902) 280 ± books

ALEXANDRE DUMAS pere (1802-1870) 277 books

L. T. MEADE (1854-1914) 258 books

SirOtter
03-16-2010, 12:27 AM
Isaac Asimov not only wrote 500 books, most were non-fiction. They were on an incredibly wide range of topics, from college level biochemistry text books (he had a PhD in that subject) to YA SF. He was best known for SF, and in fact is considered one of the upper elite grandmasters in that genre, but that was nothing like the limit of his range. He annoted both Shakespeare and the Bible, wrote mysteries, collected jokes and had a science column in F&SF for thirty years or so. A lot of the above listed authors basically wrote the same book several hundred times; you can't accuse Asimov of doing that.

kuwisdelu
03-16-2010, 12:56 AM
What about writers whose books themselves are multigenre? As in, they're all more or less crossover and difficult-to-pin-down?

Rowan
03-16-2010, 03:21 AM
What about writers whose books themselves are multigenre? As in, they're all more or less crossover and difficult-to-in-down?

I was thinkking the same thing... my WIP is stradddling two genres. :)

benbradley
03-16-2010, 04:29 AM
800 books? 800 books written by one person?
I simply don't believe that.
Or else I don't understand what that means
Asimov was the first (okay, the only) name to come to mind, and I thought he had only written about 400 books!

Isaac Asimov not only wrote 500 books, most were non-fiction. They were on an incredibly wide range of topics, from college level biochemistry text books (he had a PhD in that subject) to YA SF. He was best known for SF, and in fact is considered one of the upper elite grandmasters in that genre, but that was nothing like the limit of his range. He annoted both Shakespeare and the Bible, wrote mysteries, collected jokes and had a science column in F&SF for thirty years or so. A lot of the above listed authors basically wrote the same book several hundred times; you can't accuse Asimov of doing that.
Not to take away anything from Asimov, but several (a dozen or more?) of his popular science books were collections of his F&SF science articles. For the books he did write prefaces and afterthoughts, and made changes/added footnotes to reflect changes in knowledge between the publication of the columns and the publication of the books.

And speaking as a science nerd who read several of these in high school, they're good reading, too. :)

SirOtter
03-16-2010, 04:50 AM
Not to take away anything from Asimov, but several (a dozen or more?) of his popular science books were collections of his F&SF science articles. For the books he did write prefaces and afterthoughts, and made changes/added footnotes to reflect changes in knowledge between the publication of the columns and the publication of the books.

It was probably between fifty to a hundred, but that still leaves 400 or so that weren't. :) I wasn't a science nerd (my degree is in history), but he was such a good writer even I could follow some pretty complex explanations. I was a regular reader of F&SF for a lot of those years, and his column was usually my first stopping place. Unless there was one of their fun contests in the back, in which case his column was my second stop. :D

BTW, yes, I do have a copy of The Sensuous Dirty Old Man by Dr. A., with dust jacket intact. ;)

shaldna
03-16-2010, 12:58 PM
Not just 500 novels but literally thousands of short stories and articles too.

dgiharris
03-16-2010, 01:56 PM
I think that the way the publishing world is set-up 'sorta' forces authors into one genre.

When you go to B&N or Borders, they don't group books by author, they group books by genre.

ANd the more 'space' your books can carve out, the increased likelihood of you selling your books since you in effect have your own little section. So, when the reader goes to get one of your books, they also will see your other books.

However, if you are all over the place genre wise, with one book here, another book over there, etc. etc. it can hurt you since you don't reach a critical mass and get your own little section on the wall, but rather have a book that gets lost within other people's sections.

I know that sounds like a simplistic view, but I think it has some merit.

Now, if you can reach critical mass in multiple genres, then more power to you. But for a lot of writers, that won't be the case.

And of course if you are famous or have an enormous readership then you can do whatever the hell you want :)

Mel...

Jamesaritchie
03-16-2010, 10:35 PM
Well, to be fair to these other writers, about ninety percent of Asimov's nonfiction was hardlytough writing. His usual metod was to copy directly from a science book or encyclopedia, and then simplify the information for general readers. It required knowledge of the subject, but it was hardly writing a book in the usual meaning of the term.

jana13k
03-17-2010, 04:58 AM
Nora Roberts (women's fiction) is also J.D. Robb (futuristic mystery)
Barbara Michaels (gothic) is also Elizabeth Peters (mystery)

That's just two (off-hand) that are highly successful in different genres - and not adult and YA. A ton of people are writing adult and YA.

Jamesaritchie
03-17-2010, 09:19 PM
I think that the way the publishing world is set-up 'sorta' forces authors into one genre.

When you go to B&N or Borders, they don't group books by author, they group books by genre.

ANd the more 'space' your books can carve out, the increased likelihood of you selling your books since you in effect have your own little section. So, when the reader goes to get one of your books, they also will see your other books.

However, if you are all over the place genre wise, with one book here, another book over there, etc. etc. it can hurt you since you don't reach a critical mass and get your own little section on the wall, but rather have a book that gets lost within other people's sections.

I know that sounds like a simplistic view, but I think it has some merit.

:)

Mel...

It's slow writing that forces writers into one genre. If the best you can do is one book per year, and a fair number of writers aren't even this fast, writing in more than one genre probably won't work out.

But it's being fast that forces writers to write in more than one genre, and to use pseudonyms.

But if you write a new novel every two or three months, or faster, you will probably be forced to write in one genre, or to use pseudonyms in the single genre, or both.

Sargentodiaz
03-19-2010, 10:05 PM
That's my problem, James. Got five completed [1 at publisher] and lots more ideas in my head. I am 25k words into my new novel - taking place in the 1750s. An idian in Mexico and a young boy from England who meet by chance and their adventures in Baja and Alta California.

Jamesaritchie
03-19-2010, 11:07 PM
That's my problem, James. Got five completed [1 at publisher] and lots more ideas in my head. I am 25k words into my new novel - taking place in the 1750s. An idian in Mexico and a young boy from England who meet by chance and their adventures in Baja and Alta California.

It can be frustrating, can't it?