Building a dedicated fan base is important to any author. In fact, it’s so important that much of the advice out there tells us to stay in our genres. It makes sense. For example, if you are writing romance, your readers are much more likely to pick up your next book if it is also romance than say science fictions.
But I also think that thinking is underestimating readers, pigeon-holing them. There are a lot of advantages to hopping around between the genres.
Let’s start with an obvious one – appealing to more readers across topics. If I switch from romance to fantasy, I keep the readers who want to stick with me and I pick up some wonderful new fans.
We also need to be honest here, writing isn’t only about who will be reading our books.
My first series was a YA dystopian series. It was emotionally draining. The battles. The dire circumstances. The deaths. I had to kill of characters who’d been with me for over two years. Once the final book was out, I couldn’t write. Anything I tried to start ended up with the trash heap. I was very close to giving up and deciding one series was enough.
Then I decided to try something new. I wanted to write something light; up-beat – a bit less complicated. So, I jumped into contemporary romance. Now, this wasn’t necessarily easier to write than dystopian, but it didn’t wear on me so much. Something amazing happened. I was rejuvenated. I knocked out the book in just over a month and decided to make it a series.
Switching genres taught me a lot and set me on the path to become a better writer. I started to see how each genre focuses on different aspects and can make you stronger in those areas. In dystopian, I was able to hone my action sequences and also my sense of plausibility and backstory.
Romance is very heavy in dialogue, forcing me to work on improving conversations.
In YA Contemporary, I’ve learned how to handle sensitive topics that are relevant to the world today.
There is another genre switch in my near future. I’ll be partner writing a fantasy series and I’ve already been practicing my world building.
Every writer will tell you that they get better with each book they write. As with everything, practice makes – well, not perfect – but as close to it as we can get. It’s the same with genre hopping. With each genre I write, I become more well-rounded.
The school of thought might be to stick with what you already know, but I prefer to go for what I want to learn. That’s how we grow.
I hope you’ll stick with me for the ride.