Should Authors Write in More than One Genre? Part 2

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month (woo-hoo!) and you know what that means: another installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This month’s co-hosts are: Heather Gardner, T. Drecker from Kidbits, Eva E. Solar at Lilicasplace, and Patsy Collins! Please stop by their blogs and say hello:)

Okay, so…last year I wrote a blog post called “Should Authors Write in More Than one Genre?”.  At the time, I was concerned about branding and building an audience. For example, if I wrote something funny (and people liked it), should I consider writing another funny book for the sake of branding? Or, should I throw caution to the wind and mix it up, and write whatever my little ol’ heart desired since every book idea I have seems to be in a whole new genre? In the post, I also pondered writing different genres under different names (and I even pondered having different social media accounts to keep the “brands” separate. Yikes!) and all of you awesome folks chimed in and assured me that I could write what I want without worrying about branding because people would decide, based on the book cover and blurb alone, whether or not they wanted to read the book.

Well, here I am a year later, grappling with the same issue. I think it’s one of the reasons why I’ve been having such a hard time deciding what to write next. Seriously. My WIPs and other novel ideas are all over the place: one romantic comedy with a male lead, a paranormal story, a mystery that just might be a thriller, a dystopian novel, one book that’s freaking me out because it actually might be horror, and something that even feels like it might be science fiction (never mind the fact that I don’t even read science fiction. #problemswritershave).

So I’m sure you can see my dilemma. With all of these different stories in different genres running around my head, my concern is that I’ll never write enough stories in one genre to build an audience. Brenda Jackson? Romance. Stephen King? Horror. Gillian Flynn? Psychological Thrillers. Quanie Miller? Sometimes funny, other times scary, might just be a mystery, you might even get some paranormal thrown in there, rom coms on Tuesdays, thrillers on Fridays, jambalaya on Saturdays–do you see what I mean? I’ve been pulling my hair out over this issue. I’m trying to decide which book is going to be the best decision for moving my career forward, but of course, since my crystal ball is broken, I don’t know the answer.

What about others? Do you know of any other authors that successfully write in other genres? Do you read those authors and enjoy their work? And authors: what’s your take on writing in multiple genres? Have you done it successfully? How have readers responded?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Oh! And before you go, I have an announcement: The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond is now available. And it’s free! (I’m looking at you, Faith Simone). Check it out!

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ISBN 9781939844088
235 pages, FREE
Find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads.


54 thoughts on “Should Authors Write in More than One Genre? Part 2

  1. Hey Quanie, great post. First off, thanks for visiting my page and commenting. 🙂 That meant a lot to me. I write stories across a multitude of genres. The possibilities are endless. Don’t feel you need to be limited by any one genre. Write the story that needs to be written at the time it’s knocking on the door of your imagination. Just my two cents. Have a great night. 😀 Eva
    lilicasplace recently posted..Insecure Writer’s Support Group – NaNo Disappointment?My Profile

  2. It is easy to paint yourself into a corner…when many of us have a wide range of writing talents that we’d love to use. True actors show their range by acting in different roles. Writers, however, are often expected to stick to one genre in order to “grow our audience” and “satisfy our readers.” I have a chapter book series coming out, plus middle grade, so that’s two different audiences. I’ve thought about it, though, and from one book to the next, so much time passes my readers are probably grown up! I guess the idea is when a 10-year-old picks up one of my books, she’ll want to buy all the previous ones?
    Stephanie Faris recently posted..My Seven Deadly Sins of ReadingMy Profile

  3. I’d definitely root for writing what you desire, Quanie. It helps to be branded in a particular genre first (for the readers in that group and for the author to build a following), but after a while, if a story of another genre pesters to be written, why not? Might tank but I think it’s worth trying. I’ll check out The Insecure Writer’s book now!
    Claudine @ CarryUsOff Books recently posted..Billy & Monster’s Golden ChristmasMy Profile

  4. Quanie, you’ve done a fantastic job so far with following your heart and I think you should continue to do so! You’ve written a comedy as well as a paranormal and I loved both books! I would also buy a horror or a mystery from you because I enjoy your writing.
    As authors, we always fear the unknown of what our readers will think if we choose not to stick with our usual genre. But aren’t we cheating ourselves if the ideas are there and we don’t embellish with them? Simply because they are not part of our current genre of writing?
    My WIP is a suspense/thriller, however, I write children’s books as well. My WIP is raw with lots of sexual content and adult language but my children’s work is so far from this. I enjoy both genres of writing so I will continue to follow all of my passions. I think we all owe it to our hearts and imaginations!
    gina stoneheart recently posted..The Act of Awarding Others With HonorMy Profile

  5. Certainly many of us have pondered the multi-genre issue as writers write what inspires them to do so. But you then you wouldn’t want little Sammy Goodmeadow meeting up with Jeramiah Stink…Though pseudonyms may seem the logical solution, what then becomes of a life-long quest to be known as yourself? I guess I’ve offered more of a statement of concurrence rather than a solution, but it is almost a comfort to read these posts and realize how common the confounding issue actually is! Thanks for another terrific conversation, Quanie!
    pensivepenspost.blogspot.com/2014/11/half-spiders-bottom.html

  6. Two of my favourite kids writers – Eva Ibbotson, a Brit who began writing at 45 ish and didn’t stop until she died at age 83 (and actually it was her novel Platform 13 that gave JK Rowling quite a few of her ideas), she wrote Young Adult romance and young kids witch stories, and then straight dramas and all her writing is amazing, all of it. that’s what joins it together. i can read any of her stuff. I think Kate di Camillo is also an author who moves between genres and also writes for children but many adults read her work.

  7. Hi Quanie, I think it’s entirely up to the individual. A lot of authors though will have different nom de plumes for different genres. Up to you. Carve your own niche! 🙂

  8. Um, like you I’m new to the book publishing game, but my heart tells me that if you start off writing in multiple genres then the audience you build will come to expect that’s what you do. The same goes for starting off writing in only one genre, your audience will come to expect that same genre from you.

    Therefore, I think you’re in the best position right now to do multiple genres so that later in your career you won’t find yourself feeling stuck to one genre. You would’ve already built the multiple genre aspect into your readers’ mind thereby successfully managing their expectations of your work, which gives you freedom to write what your heart desires.

    • Demetria, I’m awarding you comment of the day. Like, seriously. I hadn’t even thought of this aspect but you’re right: there’s no need to box myself in and then later (what’s I’m a best selling author *wink*) have to decide whether or not to write under a pen name because I’ve become know as the “insert genre” author. When you put it this way, it makes total sense for me to write those multiple genres now while I’m still building my brand.
      Quanie recently posted..Should Authors Write in More than One Genre? Part 2My Profile

  9. Really interesting post! I first wrote a chick lit book, then felt drawn to try picture books while writing a tongue in cheek parenting blog. I figure if you like to read more than one genre it makes sense you’d like to write different ones as well 🙂

  10. Writing for 2 entirely different audiences is hard, not because of writing itself but because of the promotional efforts. I have this experience but decided early on to concentrate on one genre where most of my writing ends up – fantasy. I have written in other genres too: one mainstream novel, 3 magic realism short stories and a couple of science fiction stories (I write what comes into my head), but I don’t promote them as much. Most of my promotional tactics and most of my writing, target fantasy readers.
    I think if the readers like my dominant genre they might try the other stories too, but to market for different audiences is almost unrealistic, time-wise.
    Olga Godim recently posted..Complete or not complete: that’s the questionMy Profile

  11. I’ve seen a bunch of different writers say this, so it must be true: write what you want to write. It’s true that there are a lot of big names only known for their work in one genre, but there are authors who work in multiple genres – I swear they exist, even if I can’t think of any right now. And there are a lot of genre-blending writers out there as well.

    As for your personal “brand”, look at it this way – if someone finds your book because they like one genre, loves the way you write, and sees you’ve written in another genre, they might pick it up because it’s your book, even if they don’t usually read that other genre. So you might not only be selling more of your own books, you could be helping people get into other genres. Win-win. ^_^
    Mason T. Matchak recently posted..IWSG: With Apologies to Kenny Rogers.My Profile

  12. I remember that post and I still feel the same way…that writer’s should write in different genres. It’s silly to restrict ourselves to just one genre when there are so many to explore. Plus, we can learn a lot about ourselves and writing if we do this. I also don’t think it’s a problem to publish in multiple genres. You’re creating something for different audiences which means more readers. That’s always a good thing!

    I’ve been publishing romantic-suspense books, but I’m going to be coming out with two paranormal-suspense stories next year. They are different and yet still have a common thread with my published works.
    Chrys Fey recently posted..‘Twas the Night before IWSG Day + FREE GIFTSMy Profile

  13. Well, I happen to be a fan of Quanie Miller so you could probably write a story about an alien that teams up with a ghost and together with a trusty sidekick that is a cross between a gremlin and a bubble guppy (that happens to make a mean jambalaya) they decide to fight crime in their electric blue hybrid…I would still buy it. You have a unique style and voice, so whatever you write, we’ll know it’s you.

    I’ve debated with the same issue because some of my story ideas cross genres, but I think you should just write what comes to you. You don’t have to be in a box.
    Dahlia Savage recently posted..#IWSG: Is This The End? Telling whether it’s a writer’s rut or if that story is really finished.My Profile

    • Why does everyone make it sound so easy??? And thanks so much for that! I’m a fan of yours too (and I’m still waiting on the continuation of that story about the older woman whose car breaks down and gets a ride with that younger (and handsome!) man) and I think you could totally write across genres without any problems. So maybe I should write that story about the aliens, ghost, gremlin/bubble guppy who can make a mean jambalaya. IJS…
      Quanie recently posted..Should Authors Write in More than One Genre? Part 2My Profile

  14. I said it last year, and I still think it’s true: write what interests you, write the story that beats against the walls of your mind and refuses to be silenced and needs to be told, and don’t worry about genre. Really. If I love an author, I will read almost anything she writes. Some people might not read everything, it’s true, but one thing I know for certain: you can’t serve your career by making yourself write something you don’t want to write.

    So write it all! I really admire that you’re even HAVING this dilemma. It is NOT EASY to write in more than one genre. So, take it as a good thing that you can!
    Liz Blocker (@lizblocker) recently posted..Insecure Writers: More ConfessionsMy Profile

  15. I struggle with this question too. I have lots of ideas that fall under different genres. I plan to keep writing women’s fiction and building my brand under my actual name and publish the mystery series that is floating around in my head under a pen name. It might backfire, but I won’t know until I try.
    Elizabeth Hein recently posted..Reflections on a Book TourMy Profile

  16. Neil Gaiman, Jo Nesbo, Barbara Hambly, Iain M Banks… the list could go on. There are authors who have crossed the streams 😉 successfully and probably many who have fallen by the wayside. I guess it’s down to how well your style suits each genre and you don’t know unless you try. I’ve heard that sometimes agents & publishers dislike it, but without knowing individual cases couldn’t honestly state the reasons (I could guess but that may be unfair). As a reader, if I like an author I’ll usually read whatever they’ve written regardless of the genre and I don’t think I’m unusual in that.
    Go for what feels right in your heart.

    • Ha! I love this: “there are authors who have crossed the streams successfully and probably many who have fallen by the wayside.” It could really go either way but you never know unless you try, right? And Beth said the same thing and I agree: if a reader likes you then they will probably read your books in all genres. That’s certainly encouraging!
      Quanie recently posted..Should Authors Write in More than One Genre? Part 2My Profile

  17. LOL! You straight called me out Quanie! I LOVE free books and you know the Insecure Writer’s guide is going to be all up in my e-reader 🙂 And it’s right on time as I prepare for the daunting task of self publishing.

    To answer your question regarding genres….child I don’t know! I brand myself as a Christian Fiction author because that’s the genre of my first full length novel and the genre I plan to continue writing novels in. But, I’ve published short stories and poems that are definitely NOT Christian fiction. They’re more like women’s fiction. I’m hoping that any fans I wrangle will be people that enjoy both genres, but I’m not overly concerned about it. I read all kinds of books, and like your blog readers said, people buy books based upon the cover, blurb and sample.

    The ‘experts’ do recommend branding, but I think that applies more to the quality of the author’s work, than sticking to a particular genre. If the author writes well, I’ll probably read anything they put out. I also think branding refers to an author who made it big on a book, built a huge fan base off it, and now have fans that are expecting a similar book from them thereafter. Like Nicholas Sparks or Jodi Picoult. If they came out with a horror book, there’d be a lot of confused and unhappy ladies walking around (including me)! When I curl up with Mr. Sparks, I’m expecting a tragic love story and somebody better die heroically. IJS.
    Faith Simone recently posted..All Up in My E-Reader (November Edition)My Profile

    • You know I had to do it, LOL! Seriously, though. I hope you enjoy the book:) And you bring up some good points about those really established authors like Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult. Heck, maybe I’m being overly paranoid since it’s so early on in my writing career and I’ve yet to make a name for myself. But I agree with you: I don’t even read Jodi Picoult but I can recognize her book covers, and if she wrote a horror novel I’d probably go, “huh?” And I don’t think you’ll have anything to worry about with your genres (but if you were going to write erotica then some of your Christian readers might go, “Um…no ma’am!”).
      Quanie recently posted..Should Authors Write in More than One Genre? Part 2My Profile

      • Right, erotica and Christian Fiction don’t mix…supposedly. But I know for a fact that there are plenty of readers that enjoy both. I guess it depends on what kind of mood they’re in *shrugs*. Like I always say, “Do you, Boo.” Erotica is one genre I don’t ever plan to delve in, even though I’ve heard that the money is ridiculous. For one thing, I doubt if I even have enough knowledge of the tricks and flips and freaky-ness that erotica fans expect!
        Faith Simone recently posted..Author Spotlight: M. Ann Ricks!!!!My Profile

  18. I know exactly what you mean. I have a ton of ideas randomly floating around and I’m not sure…I want to be the chick lit fun author like Sophie Kinsella, but what if I want to try something totally new? It’s hard. I say just write where your heart takes you and worry later. Good stories are good stories, after all. Jenny Han writes some of my favorite contemporary YA and she co-authored a book called Burn for Burn that I believe had a touch of paranormal to it (I haven’t read Burn for Burn yet but I absolutely plan to since I love her!) so I think your readers will follow you anywhere 🙂

  19. JK Rowlins, Norah Roberts, Alexander McCall Smith, Agatha Christie, PD James, Patsy Collins have all done it and all except her on the end have been successful.

  20. I write in several different genres, mostly because I don’t want to bore myself, or get stuck in a hole. What if I only write one genre but then someday I get an idea for a story in a different genre? I don’t want to feel like I’m limited. You’re not going to write your best if you feel like you’re being ‘forced’ to write something because that’s how you label yourself.

    I know some authors use different pen names for different genres. I guess that makes sense to me if you write two wildly different things–say, erotica and children’s books. But I think having a buffet of different things to offer your readers isn’t a bad thing. I think you can attract MORE readers that way, by being diverse.

  21. Quanie, I’m in the same pickle. I’ve been told that my poetry writing is stronger than my fiction or that they like both. And in reality I want to write both. I have many WIP novels and story ideas I want to work on next. And they’re all over the place as well. There’s a sword and sorcery, a YA supernatural, an African-American history mystery/thriller, and even a zombie corps operation story. So I guess I can’t help you decide whether to stick in one genre, write across the board or reinvent yourself in your chosen genre. But in regards to branding and audience, there are two quotes I stare at everyday, that can help:

    “In order to grow your audience, you must betray their expectations.”-Hayao Miyazaki
    “In truth, I never consider the audience for whom I’m writing. I just write what I want to write.”- J.K. Rowling
    lidy recently posted..Happy Release Day!My Profile

    • Lidy, you’re a rockstar. I’ve never heard those quotes before but I’m going to print them both today and tape them above my workstation. Thanks for sharing them! And goodness, your stories are varied! I actually think that’s a good thing (but somehow when it comes to my own writing, I’m unable to be objective about these types of things!). I’ll give you advice that I am somehow unable to give myself: write what you write best and let the chips fall as they may. Wait–I might just steal that one for myself, lol.
      Quanie recently posted..Should Authors Write in More than One Genre? Part 2My Profile

  22. I say write the story that feels right to you….the one you want to tell and the one you have words for. I write across genres myself. Have you read anything by Joelle Charbonneau? She has been published across genres, and she has been successful in doing so (though I do find her writing is stronger in certain genres ). Don’t stress. …enjoy the process of writing!
    Lisa recently posted..Book Review – Letters of Note Compiled by Shaun UsherMy Profile

    • Hi Lisa, I hadn’t heard of Joelle but I’ll have to look her up. You make it sound so simple: don’t stress. I think it’s what we writers do best, lol. But then again, I’m such a new writer that maybe I shouldn’t even be thinking about these types of things??? Maybe I’ll eventually find my stride with a particular book and will continue to write in whatever genre that might be? Darn it. Where’s that crystal ball when you need it???
      Quanie recently posted..Should Authors Write in More than One Genre? Part 2My Profile

  23. Maya Rodale talked about this at my local RWA fall workshop. It’s a really tricky thing, especially for a newer author. I also have a few other genres I want to write, in addition to contemporary romance: romantic women’s fiction, romantic thriller, historical romance. I’m trying to stay focused and grow my brand and readership in one genre before I explore others. I don’t want to do a separate pen name. (Having one is complex enough.) Yet, I look at a wildly popular author like Nora Roberts who writer as J.D. Robb when she writes outside her usual genre. Ugh! I’m as confused as ever, but for right now, I plan to use the same pen name.
    Reese Ryan recently posted..“I’ve seen this in Lifetime movies. It doesn’t end well.” #MWTeaseMy Profile

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