Story Collection – Mix of Genres?

hainguyen

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hello,

i've been working on my story collection for about a year now, but there is something i stumbled across a few months ago that i haven't been able to solve. right from the start, i categorized the collection as literary fiction. all of my stories are of different genres (romance, sci-fi, mystery, crime). _

i've been wondering whether it's appropriate to have stories with different flavors (genres) in one collection or whether it'd be better if all of these stories were under the same or similar genre. _

they all share the same theme, but i have been considering taking some of those stories and putting them into a different story collection, one, where their genre correlates much better: e.g., crime, mystery, sci-fi for one collection and romance, drama, etc. for the other. _

this is also because some stories are brutal and hardcore in comparison to others, so, it would be probably a good idea to separate them into two books. there's a consideration for the target audience, the first collection being for young adults/adults, while the other for crime/thriller fanatics. _

however, i'd like to hear your opinion on it if that's okay with you. should i keep them all in one collection or create two? _
 

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Oh, gosh, that is a tough one. Readers, including myself, tend to be very genre focused. If I buy a collection of short stories, I fully expect it to be within a tight genre, and also to have a focused theme, whether it's a single or multiple author anthology.

You may be better off selling a heap of stories to various paying markets, and then put together the best of them, plus whatever unpublished stories you have in the same subgenre, into a collection.

Also, welcome to absolute write!
 
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ap123

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I kind of love this idea, one theme approached multiple ways through genre within the same collection.

But I'm not sure others would. Many include genre expectations in choosing what to read, and it might make it difficult to market.
 

Norsebard

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:hi: hainguyen
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:unsure: Hmmm, well... as someone who also loves to dabble in many different genres, it's something I've been pondering as well. I've arrived at the conclusion that it won't work for us noname folks to put out an anthology of stories that shoot off in wildly different directions.

It's different for the Big Name Authors who write in multiple genres - for those folks, readers would buy the anthology / story collection based on name recognition alone, simply to catch up on what their favorite wordsmith has been up to recently.


hainguyen said:
this is also because some stories are brutal and hardcore in comparison to others (...)

This part alone necessitates splitting them up, IM-H-O. In my experience, readers can tolerate different genres within a single release if they share a similar tone or story universe, but NOT if they are all over the place when it comes to gore / violence / sexual situations, etc.


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Norsebard
 

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Definitely do not lump them under literary fiction. I'd read all the other genres you mentioned, but I am unlikely to pick up something classed as literary fiction. You're also likely to antagonize literary fiction readers when they find themselves unexpected faced with genre stories.

It partly depends on how many stories you have. If you have lots, seperating them out across collections will be easier. And in case of people liking your stories in one genre, they may be tempted to also buy your other genre collections if they read it, so you'd have more sales on the whole.
 
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CWNitz

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I occasionally buy anthologies, and for me it would depend both on the genre and on the composition.

In the Informers, the very last short story introduces vampires. I liked it, because it's a conclusion to a series of story about social, metaphorical vampires that ends with actual creatures of the night.

If that story had been the first, however, I would have been annoyed by the sudden, unexplained disappearance of the vampires.

It's the same with mystery and thriller. Typically, a thriller novel starts with a mystery and then increases the tension. I would be fine with short stories that would be connected and worked the same way. If it's the other way around, however, it can be underwhelming.

So rather than group the stories by genre, I would order them by how they influence the reader's mindset and how their plots are connected.
 

hainguyen

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Oh, gosh, that is a tough one. Readers, including myself, tend to be very genre focused. If I buy a collection of short stories, I fully expect it to be within a tight genre, and also to have a focused theme, whether it's a single or multiple author anthology.

You may be better off selling a heap of stories to various paying markets, and then put together the best of them, plus whatever unpublished stories you have in the same subgenre, into a collection.

Also, welcome to absolute write!

thank you for your thoughts and the welcome, i appreciate it very much! _

i definitely need to publish the short stories individually. the problem will lie in the fact whether i can find the "right" magazines and whether they would believe my work to be good enough to be published. another problem is personal: the fear that i could lose the rights to the stories or be required to share them with the given magazine publisher. _
 

hainguyen

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:hi: hainguyen
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:unsure: Hmmm, well... as someone who also loves to dabble in many different genres, it's something I've been pondering as well. I've arrived at the conclusion that it won't work for us noname folks to put out an anthology of stories that shoot off in wildly different directions.

It's different for the Big Name Authors who write in multiple genres - for those folks, readers would buy the anthology / story collection based on name recognition alone, simply to catch up on what their favorite wordsmith has been up to recently.




This part alone necessitates splitting them up, IM-H-O. In my experience, readers can tolerate different genres within a single release if they share a similar tone or story universe, but NOT if they are all over the place when it comes to gore / violence / sexual situations, etc.


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Norsebard

thank you for your opinion, i appreciate them very much! _

you also bring up a good point that no-name authors like us wouldn't have much luck in presenting a collection with a mix of genres that tonally clash with one another. _
 

lizmonster

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another problem is personal: the fear that i could lose the rights to the stories or be required to share them with the given magazine publisher. _

Read your contract before you sign it.

When I sold a story, they asked for a 1 year exclusive. After that I was free to republish it.
 

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thank you for your thoughts and the welcome, i appreciate it very much! _

i definitely need to publish the short stories individually. the problem will lie in the fact whether i can find the "right" magazines
Finding the right magazine/anthology can take time, but it will happen in the end.
and whether they would believe my work to be good enough to be published.
If no editor is willing to publish a particular story, then it's likely not something a lot of readers will enjoy -- which suggests it's not something you'd want to put in a self-published collection
another problem is personal: the fear that i could lose the rights to the stories or be required to share them with the given magazine publisher. _
You will absolutely have to give up some rights to the magazine: usually first English rights, for a specific period of time. But that's not something to fear. It's normal, and it's what they're paying you for. Read the contract and make sure you understand what rights they take, and for how long, before you agree to it.
 

Devinjm

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I was initially thinking about compiling all my fiction into one book--but I realized a mix of YA fiction and adult horror probably wasn't a good sell. I switched up my plan and I'm going to release my YA novelettes in one book and 11 horror shorts in another.
 

Elenitsa

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I do publish lots of short stories in magazines and anthologies, and afterwards I group them on themes, to publish short story volumes. Sometimes the title of the volume is given by one of the pieces, other times by the parts the volume is divided into, or it is a generic title to encompass what the stories are about. Sometimes the volumes do have one odd story there, but not very odd.

For example, my first two short stories volumes were published as prizes at short story contests. One is titled The Mercenary's fate and other destinies, and it is divided in two parts - 1. The mercenary's fate (vignettes from the life of the same character) and 2- Other destinies (unrelated historical short stories). But the first story, in front of the first part, should have belonged to part 2, but being the one which received the literary prize, was the first one by the publisher's wish.

Next year, another prize-winning short story, another volume published as a prize (by another publisher from the same organising association). The volume is titled Protected by mermaids - again, the structure is the same: the winning piece first (with no mermaids, just ambulance siren, happening during the 1989 revolution, as it was 30 years commemoration and this was the subject of the contest, like the previous year it was the centenary of the National Union, 1918-2018, and my winning story was from those times), then 1- Mermaids (retellings of various international mermaids and sea faeries stories, from Gorgona - not the one killed by Hercules in the mythology, but the Greek sailors' superstition, who allegedly was the sister of Alexander the Great - Melusine, Russalka, Yemaya, Yara, La Llorona, Lorelei and a couple of others) and 2- Protected by mermaids - seafarers' stories, including or not mermaids, but surely tall ships and sometimes shipwrecks. Besides the story with the prize, there is also another one, at the end of the volume, which is historical, but not sea or Danube related, being the one of a land battle in 1821. Nobody complained about the odd ones.

The latest already published short stories volume is made of contemporary stories published in various magazines and anthologies, some with prizes and honourable mentions, some not. Given that some of the stories end with a death, others have a happy ending, but in some of the happy ending ones there still is a death mentioned (e.g. a boy and a girl met at a funeral... fell in love... and got married in a few years time.) the volume is titled On yearning, on love, on death. (Or maybe I should have translated nostalgia instead of yearning? It is one of those specific feelings not so well translated... similar with the Portuguese saudade). Still, I have an extraneous story inside, not so contemporary, but from the Second World War... just that it is continued to present times. Again, I had a couple of reviews and no literary critics nor book bloggers complained.

I still have in my computer several short story volumes, building story by story, and one has just been given to the publisher. It is titled The rebels of the seas and it comprizes seafaring stories (my favourites, you can tell!). Some are about pirates and sailors who are my characters, and some are retellings about real historical persons and adventures (because one of the magazines I am publishing in wants historical fiction with less known real historical persons, and I gladly delivered - the Bounty mutiny and the development of Pitcairn islands, up to the sinking of the Bounty replica with the last generation of Fletcher Christian's grand-grand-granddaughter, a pirate monk of 1200s in France and England, the first woman who sailed round the world, a Spanish female marine at Lepanto, etc...
 

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Definitely do not lump them under literary fiction. I'd read all the other genres you mentioned, but I am unlikely to pick up something classed as literary fiction. You're also likely to antagonize literary fiction readers when they find themselves unexpected faced with genre stories.

It partly depends on how many stories you have. If you have lots, seperating them out across collections will be easier. And in case of people liking your stories in one genre, they may be tempted to also buy your other genre collections if they read it, so you'd have more sales on the whole.
Agree with this. If I saw a short story collection labeled literary fiction, I would not think sci-fi, horror, and fantasy.