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MissMacchiato
11-05-2010, 03:50 AM
I was reading an article about author Nora Roberts writing as J.D Robb.

It said something to the effect that her publishers did not originally want her to write her In Death series under Nora Roberts as it was such a departure from her other writing. Of course most JD Robb readers are aware that she is actually NR now, but it was a secret at first.

I'm wondering if others feel or actually know for sure that they are locked in to whatever they have written first, or have sold first.

For example, if you write contemporary romance, like Nora Roberts, and suddenly wish to write a Paranormal romance, or a historical romance - Not necessarily a complete departure from your original genre, but non-the-less different, what happens?

What are your experiences?

Do you think that you, as an author, have become type-cast in terms of one series you have written, or one genre of writing? have you ever tried to break out? What happened?

JanDarby
11-05-2010, 05:18 AM
It happens. I know a NYT bestseller who wanted to change genres after her third book, and was strongly discouraged from doing so. She probably could have, if she'd insisted, but she wouldn't have received anywhere near the money or publisher support she enjoyed in her original genre.

I remember, too (b/c I've been doing this for centuries), when an author who's no longer writing was hitting it big, and she said something about a goal to be published across several subgenres of romance (contemporary, futuristic, historical, etc.), and while she did manage to do it, I thought she was hurting her career, because readers would comment about how they liked one of the genres but not the others. She went on to crash and burn her career with other bad decisions, but I always thought that this failure to identify and solidify her market contributed to her problems. It's pretty common knowledge that a lot of readers stick to a certain range of subgenres -- historical or contemporary or paranormal, maybe two of the three, but seldom all three.

So, yeah, I do think it's important to figure out what your genre is, and make sure you'd be comfortable writing in it for at least five or ten books before switching genres. Otherwise, just as you're developing a readership, you alienate them by writing in a genre that a good chunk of the readership isn't interested in.

MissMacchiato
11-05-2010, 05:50 AM
thanks Jan.

I like the freedom of paranormal and contemporary, so i can imagine sticking in that one, although that surprises me. I was originally going for historical.

I guess i must be odd because I do enjoy reading historical, as much as I enjoy paranormal or contemporary. For me, it's the romance element I'm looking for. If that feels 'real' then the rest of the setting is barely even important :)

Interesting your comment about crashing and burning though.

I think Nora probably did so well because she's so prolific that she could continue writing in her genre as well as the new one. She seems to have an incredible output of books.

benbradley
11-05-2010, 07:07 AM
Dean Koontz has a history like that, but apparently he was prolific enough that he, as best he could, "erased" his early history as an SF writer and went mainstream, and he also was published in several genres under several pseudonyms. I suppose it's your author NAME that's "locked in."

This leads to another question, though a yes answer seems to be strongly implied here: If you're successful with a novel, will your agent and publisher be expecting more novels in the same genre? If they "really like" a first novel, might they offer a multi-book contract? I recall some of the authors here announcing multi-book contracts, obviously all in the same genre as the novel that generated the contract.

Also, if you write an extra novel outside "your" (published) genre and want to get it published (perhaps/probably under a pseudonym), I presume you should discuss or at least mention this to your agent even if he/she doesn't represent, and the publisher doesn't publish the new genre?

Ben, avoiding writing his Blockbuster NaNoWriMo Novel.

Soccer Mom
11-05-2010, 07:23 AM
I write in two different genres. No, it's not the best way to do things. Yes, sometimes I feel like a crazy woman.

But I like it. I go back and forth between sweet historical romances and down-n-dirty urban fantasy. It keeps things fun for me.

MissMacchiato
11-05-2010, 07:39 AM
and keeping things fun and fresh should really be important in writing, IMO!

Ben, those are some really good questions and I'd like to know the answers too!

Izz
11-05-2010, 07:41 AM
Iain Banks. Iain M. Banks.

Amazingly enough, they're the same person. :D

maestrowork
11-05-2010, 08:02 AM
James Patterson writes his suspense and romance under the same name. Doesn't seem to hurt his sales :)

leahzero
11-05-2010, 08:25 AM
China Miéville's another genre-buster. Though his books individually defy easy genre categorization, too.

It ultimately comes down to what the marketing department thinks is best.

And I don't think there's as big a gap between paranormal romance and urban fantasy--there are often similar supernatural and romantic elements in each--as there is between, say, crime thrillers and epic fantasy. If there's decent audience crossover potential (e.g. paranormal romance <-> urban fantasy), it makes sense to publish under the same umbrella, as fans of one genre may end up buying works by the same author in the other, tangentially similar, genre.

Sevvy
11-05-2010, 04:30 PM
Publishing is a business, and it's easier to sell books if you've turned yourself into a brand. And publishing multiple novels is about building an audience. It's harder to do that if your first novel is sci-fi but your second is romance. Sure, some of that audience overlaps, but you wouldn't be bringing your sci-fi audience in to buy your second book. It would be like starting from scratch all over again, and part of what can help make an author a success is building name recognition. I can name lots of famous spec fic authors, but not any romance authors, because I don't read the genre.

However, there are some authors who are so big, and so prolific, that they can pretty much do whatever they want. Stephen King could write a book about eating breakfast and get it published </exaggeration>.

I hope someday I am lucky enough to be locked in, it'll mean I got published. ^_^

ChaosTitan
11-05-2010, 05:18 PM
Recently a popular urban fantasy author wanted to branch out of her long-running, best-selling series and publish something new. Her publisher objected to her using her series pen name on other works. I'm not positive how the matter was settled (she may have switched to a new publisher), but the new, non-series-related books came out under the exact same pen name. And the new books were in the same genre (fantasy), they were just outside of her established series.

My agent and I have discussed my branching out. He knows I have a lot of interests, as well as ideas. Anything I publishing within the Spec Fic realm will likely remain under my real name. If I decide to go outside of that (contemporary romance, for example) and establish a series in a different genre, I'd probably consider a pen name. I'm not sure; the need hasn't come up yet.

But what Sevvy said about branding isn't wrong. It's why we always encourage new writers to stick to one genre at the beginning as a way to build an audience and establish themselves.

MissMacchiato
11-05-2010, 05:27 PM
I'd be happy to use a pen name for different genres if I did go that way, it's just interesting to see what people's experiences have been. Haha, after reading the comments in this thread, I did actually pick out the various names I'd use for my different genres, LOL

scarletpeaches
11-05-2010, 05:31 PM
The simple solution is: pseudonyms.

I swithered about using different names for my het and M/M erotica, but...there's an overlap when it comes to readership. Few people who read down 'n' dirty het bedroom antics would object to sweaty, heavy-breathing manlove, so...I kept the same author name for both.

I'd use another name if I went literary or crime, though!

Jamesaritchie
11-05-2010, 06:50 PM
Dean Koontz has a history like that, but apparently he was prolific enough that he, as best he could, "erased" his early history as an SF writer and went mainstream, and he also was published in several genres under several pseudonyms. I suppose it's your author NAME that's "locked in."

This leads to another question, though a yes answer seems to be strongly implied here: If you're successful with a novel, will your agent and publisher be expecting more novels in the same genre? If they "really like" a first novel, might they offer a multi-book contract? I recall some of the authors here announcing multi-book contracts, obviously all in the same genre as the novel that generated the contract.

Also, if you write an extra novel outside "your" (published) genre and want to get it published (perhaps/probably under a pseudonym), I presume you should discuss or at least mention this to your agent even if he/she doesn't represent, and the publisher doesn't publish the new genre?

Ben, avoiding writing his Blockbuster NaNoWriMo Novel.

Dean Koontz went as far as buying up the rights to his old SF books so they couldn't remain in print.

Jamesaritchie
11-05-2010, 06:55 PM
I was reading an article about author Nora Roberts writing as J.D Robb.

It said something to the effect that her publishers did not originally want her to write her In Death series under Nora Roberts as it was such a departure from her other writing. Of course most JD Robb readers are aware that she is actually NR now, but it was a secret at first.

I'm wondering if others feel or actually know for sure that they are locked in to whatever they have written first, or have sold first.

For example, if you write contemporary romance, like Nora Roberts, and suddenly wish to write a Paranormal romance, or a historical romance - Not necessarily a complete departure from your original genre, but non-the-less different, what happens?

What are your experiences?

Do you think that you, as an author, have become type-cast in terms of one series you have written, or one genre of writing? have you ever tried to break out? What happened?

Have you seen the latest J. D. Robb TV promos for her latest book.? Nora Roberts is standing there, but she says something like, "Hello, I'm J.D. Robb."

You're name may or may not be locked in. Some few writers write in several genres under the same name, but many do use a different pseudonym for each genre.

But there's nothing, outside of lack of talent and time, that stops a good writer from writing in as many genres as he wishes. The pro writers who doesn't write in more than one genre is probably the exception, rather than the rule.

The simple fact is that talented writers are difficult to find, and good books are also the rare exception. If you can write a good book, it doesnt matter who you are, or which genre you usually write in, the book will get published.

Satori1977
11-05-2010, 06:59 PM
I don't see why not. I know many authors that have done this, either under the same name or pseudonym. Most using different names though usually "come out" eventually. I like to write in different genres and don't see why it is a big deal.


James Patterson writes his suspense and romance under the same name. Doesn't seem to hurt his sales :)

He writes romance too? If they are anything like his thrillers, I can't even imagine how awful they would be.

Uncarved
11-05-2010, 07:12 PM
I don't see why not. I know many authors that have done this, either under the same name or pseudonym. Most using different names though usually "come out" eventually. I like to write in different genres and don't see why it is a big deal.



He writes romance too? If they are anything like his thrillers, I can't even imagine how awful they would be.


I so wanted to say this :)


Oh and I believe in pseudonyms can be handy, can you imagine if Stephen King wrote a childrens book and it just was under his name? Many grab a book when they see a name and don't expect a genre change. I can see how some authors get locked in and locked in tight.

JanDarby
11-05-2010, 09:46 PM
Oh, and Jayne Ann Krentz (a/k/a Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle) -- she's stated publicly that she almost crashed and burned her career with the first Jayne Castle (back in the '80s, I think, when readers were NOT open to sf/romance). She went back to the books that readers expected from her, and then when paranormal and sf became more popular, she revived her Jayne Castle name.

Keep in mind, though, that she writes more than one book a year, like Nora Roberts does. Maybe one a year for each of her pseudonyms. She can maintain reader loyalty that way, which she couldn't do if she wrote, say, a JAK contemporary in 2009, an Amanda Quick historical in 2010, and a Castle futuristic in 2011, so readers who only read contemporary would have to wait until 2012 (three years) for her next contemporary book.

In fact, I was just reading somewhere that a bestselling author started a new series in a slightly different subgenre, which is coming out now, and the next book won't be out until 2012 for a variety of reasons, and at least some readers are already saying they're not sure they'll be as enthusiastic about looking for it with that long a wait between books.

MartinD
11-05-2010, 10:04 PM
I dislike pen names. I'll happily follow a writer across genres.

Monkey
11-05-2010, 10:39 PM
I'm writing contemporary adult fiction under my maiden name because my husband and I are working on YA stuff together. He's a teacher, his students are interested in the YA, and we don't necessarily want them getting into my solo work...or we at least want to look as if we made some effort to distinguish between the two.

I don't make a big secret of the fact that my two pen names (actually, just my married and maiden names) refer to the same person. My blog's under one and my website's under the other, and I link between the two of them. My facebook has both.

But if a reader who didn't know me, or who only knew me because they'd read a book of mine (in either genre) saw two of my books on a shelf, they wouldn't automatically assume they were by the same person.

Of course, all this is theoretical, as none of our YA has been published yet and my first published contemporary is due out next year. But writing is one of those long-haul things, and planning is good.

Jamesaritchie
11-06-2010, 12:10 AM
I dislike pen names. I'll happily follow a writer across genres.

You don't always know it is a pseudonym. But what the heck, it's the same quality of writing, so what's wrong with a pseudonym? I buy book for the books, not for the names on the cover.

timewaster
11-06-2010, 01:23 AM
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So, yeah, I do think it's important to figure out what your genre is, and make sure you'd be comfortable writing in it for at least five or ten books before switching genres. Otherwise, just as you're developing a readership, you alienate them by writing in a genre that a good chunk of the readership isn't interested in.


This seems to be the marketing approach - it isn't however what suits writers best, which is why establishing alternate identities is one way round the problem. Few people want to write the same book again and again - but that is more or less what publishers want if you've hit upon a winning formula.