Should Authors Write in More than one Genre?

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Lately I’ve been thinking about how to navigate writing in different genres. Everything I’ve read on the subject seems to indicate that, in terms of branding, authors should stick to one genre so that readers come to know what to expect (and so that you can focus on, and hopefully master, that genre). This seems true. When I think of Gillian Flynn I think of psychological thrillers. When I think of Stephen King I think of horror. When I think of Ernessa T. Carter, I think of light and entertaining chick lit. Then I think of myself. A newbie author who writes humorous fiction and speculative fiction (every time I tell people I write speculative fiction they go, “What’s that??? And scrunch up their noses). It’s an umbrella term for paranormal, horror, and the like. I like the term because it’s not so boxed in.

Now, don’t ask me why my two genres are light years apart. I guess all that R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike I read as a kid was working on one part of my brain while sitcoms like The Golden Girls were working on the other parts.  The novel I finished earlier this year was speculative fiction and the one I’m working on now is humorous fiction. Working in different genres actually gives me a change of pace that I enjoy, but now I have a dilemma; do I go forward, as “Quanie Miller” and write both genres? I’ve been building all of my social media profiles as Quanie. The thought of publishing under another name and building those profiles from scratch? Migraine. But (sigh), I think that’s what I’m going to have to do.

I read one article by an author who pretty much said that he publishes in multiple genres under one name because readers will decide, based on the book cover and blurb, if the novel is their cup of tea. He also mentioned that it was one of the perks of being an indie author (having that flexibility).

As writers and readers, what are your thoughts? Those of you who write in multiple genres; do you do it under different names or do you write everything under one name? And as readers; do you care if your favorite authors switch it up or have you come to expect a certain kind of novel from them based on what they’ve written previously? And if they write something outside of what you expect (and you don’t like it), how likely are you to read subsequent novels from them?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


29 thoughts on “Should Authors Write in More than one Genre?

  1. Pingback: Should Authors Write in More than One Genre? Part 2 | Quanie Talks Writing

  2. I think the beauty of being independent is that you can write what you want! I have an idea or two that could fall into a different genre and to go through the process of building a brand for pen name #2??? I said the same thing you did…ain’t nobody got time for that! :-p
    Seriously, I think that if your writing is as fabulous as it always is, people are going to read it regardless of the genre. You may even have readers who just because they love Quanie, they will go ahead and read something they otherwise wouldn’t because they are a fan of yours.

  3. I SWEAR I commented on this last week. That’s so weird.

    Anyway, there are valid arguments in either direction when it comes to which name to use. I have to say that I agree with the writer you mentioned – use your name across all genres, and let readers decide if they’ll like the genre or not.

    I think it’s really cool that you CAN write in more than one genre! I find it harder than I would expect.
    Liz Blocker (@lizblocker) recently posted..Confessions and Pleas (and PLEASE)My Profile

  4. Hi, Quanie,

    You hit the nail on the head when you say that writing in different genres gives the opportunity to switch things up a little. I think I avoid boredom by writing in three genres. I don’t see the value in limiting myself if I have talent in several areas. I keep a separate blog for my kidlit fiction and have a pen name that I wish I hadn’t taken, but it’s all good.

  5. Great thoughts you have shared here, Quanie. I have been at a constant battle with myself because I have a few different genres which I enjoy writing about. Right now, I have branded myself in two different directions; children’s book author and adult fiction and non-fiction novelist. I can get away with doing picture books and YA under my children’s name but as for Gina Stoneheart, for the time being, I have decided to write what I am passionate about. I delight in almost everything from Law and Order to AHS Coven to The Golden Girls. And my writing is the same way. Being an independent author allows me to do so. The thought of creating yet a 3rd pen name would be almost inconceivable for me right now and I think my head would explode! I wish you the best of luck with your decision=) Honestly, with the two pen names I have, it’s a hard juggle but since I manifest most of my free time in both branding, I’m keeping things somewhat afloat. There are times when my blog doesn’t get as updated as much or my social media for my children’s book brand is a bit behind but I’m doing the best I can in order to enjoy all the creative things which constantly run through my head.
    Gina Stoneheart recently posted..The Gift of GratitudeMy Profile

  6. I guess a good rule could be, do you think what your write will be appropriate across each audience? I debate if my paranormal or ya would need to be written under a pen name or not. Jenifer Cruise seems to be crossing to paranormal romance just fine and Kelly Armstrong to YA. Kelly Hathaway chose to use a pen name to separate steamy NA from her HA and children’s. I guess it’s up to you and how you want yourself being seen. Branding is big-but if you can appeal to the same readers then i’d say that is part of your brand.
    michelle ziegler recently posted..Vonnie’s Santa Wears Leather! (Her New Release)My Profile

  7. I think that working in multiple genres is worthy of celebration! I know that it’s good to have “brand” or a “style” that an author is known for, but I think that if we get stuck into one genre, and we don’t have the freedom to write in other genres, our writing could get stale. Yes, we may master it, but sometimes mastery seems to mean a regurgitation of story lines. Of course, I might just regurgitate particular stories into different genres anyway, but I think there’s a possibility of keeping things fresh and exciting with multiple genres.
    There are big name authors who have work published in more than one genre: Stephen King is known for horror but he’s also written fantasy, Isaac Aasimov is known for scifi but he also wrote a huge book about the historical significance of Shakespeare’s plays and many other books in his lifetime.
    I don’t think we have to limit ourselves.
    However, I do think we have clearly label our books, so our readers know when we’ve moved from one genre to another. I think the hardest type of change for readers is when a writer moves from MG or YA to adult novels, in whatever genre they may be in.
    Anyway, I didn’t mean to hog the comment section . . . I just got caught up in your post. Great question!
    Tyrean recently posted..1 Word Interview with Alex J. Cavanaugh and Celebrate the Small ThingsMy Profile

    • You know what? I was reading about that this morning. A writer was saying that using various profiles for different pen names would get exhausting and an author would be more likely to give up because of it. I am thinking now of writing everything as Quanie for the next few books. We’ll see what happens.
      Quanie recently posted..Should Authors Write in More than one Genre?My Profile

  8. Definitely! If I wrote in the same genre I wouldn’t have just published Hurricane Crimes. Before I decided to publish it, I was working solely on supernatural-thrillers, but then I started to work on romantic-suspense stories. I even have a YA novel in the works, a sci-fi novel I hope to finish next year, and a western novel idea in the back of my mind. I will be publishing all of this under my one pen name. The only thing I’d use a different name is for my children’s story I may try to publish in the future, for the reasons Kiersi said.

    I don’t think writers have to restrict themselves to a single genre. Actually, I encourage writers to expand. It’s a great learning tool and can strengthen writing skills. I agree with the writer who says his readers will read what they like. Basically, with writing in any genre he chooses, he’s giving his readers more chances to read his work.

    J.K. Rowling wrote fantasy and then came out with A Casual Vacancy last year which is light years apart from Harry Potter. James Patterson writes mystery/thrillers but he also publishes romances.

    I think you can write under any genre you want under the name you are building now. And I personally think if you used the same name you’d attract more readers who may read your other work too.

    Good luck with your decision!
    Chrys Fey recently posted..Don’t Say Getting Published is HopelessMy Profile

    • Chrys, I think you are right on a number of levels. Because of everyone’s feedback here I went and did some research and happened upon a really great blog where the writer said don’t worry about branding the books; brand yourself, the author, and try and find some common thread among the things that you write and that will be the “brand,” so to speak. I’m almost certain now that I’ll be writing everyting as Quanie (or Tanutsi, my childhood nickname…, lol).
      Quanie recently posted..Should Authors Write in More than one Genre?My Profile

  9. I think Neil Gaiman is one of those people who proved to me that no author is restricted by genre or category. He writes children’s books, adult books, contemporary, spec fic, straight-up fantasy, all SORTS of things–all under his name. I’ve heard that it’s sometimes important to write under a pseudonym if you write for children and then want to branch out–just so kids don’t pick up your books thinking they’re appropriate when they aren’t. Besides that, though–your brand is what you make it! Some authors’ brands are that they write whatever they want, that they are eclectic but bring their own style of storytelling to many types of stories. (That’s the author I hope to be!) Because like you, I write contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi and more for many age groups. If you’ve turned out MANY humorous/contemporary/romance novels, then branch out later, you may have an issue–but if you start off doing whatever you want, that’s your brand, I guess! (Sorry for the ramble!) Great post. <3

  10. It’ depends, really. I’m fairly picky about which genres I read, so if a favorite author writes something outside that, my choice of whether or not to venture there is more about personal preference of genre than author talent or my like or dislike of the writing. If I *really* like the author’s writing, though, I might try it.

    My WIPs are all over the place–one spec. romantic suspense/paranormal-that’s-really-medical-sci-fi duet, one historical romance, and a futuristic dystopian in the works (‘futuristic dystopian’…is that redundant? LOL). Interesting thing, though–in my contemporary spec. duet, there’s some historical thrown in, because my hero has slowed aging. 😉

    I guess I’ll be better qualified to answer this from a writer’s perspective once I get all these published…if I get all these published. 😛
    Melissa Maygrove recently posted..Taking A BreakMy Profile

    • “because my hero has slowed aging.” Okay. You got me; I’m intrigued! You bring up some interesting points. I guess I wonder if readers “abandon” authors when they stray from what the readers love. I guess not. Like you suggest, they can just skip the stuff they don’t like and read the stuff they do like.
      Quanie recently posted..Should Authors Write in More than one Genre?My Profile

  11. I agree with the comment above…for Marketing purposes maybe you should write one genre under your name. But I think it is highly accepted that authors will write in different genres now. So I say go for it…under a different name. Do you have your spec fiction released….I’d love to read it. And from a reader standpoint, I have your humorous book on my TBR list and I like what I’ve read so far so I wouldn’t hesitate to read your other works. But I know everyone’s not like me…
    Dawn brazil recently posted..IssuesMy Profile

    • I’ve been back and forth on this issue! Sigh. Looks like I’ll be building those profiles from scratch but I think it will be worth it. So glad to hear you have my humorous novel on your TBR list! The spec fiction is done (woo-hoo!) and will be out in September (maybe sooner if things move swiftly). Will definitely keep you posted!
      Quanie recently posted..Should Authors Write in More than one Genre?My Profile

  12. Hi Quanie,
    This is a thought-provoking post for sure. I have only written children’s fiction, one children’s non-fiction, and various articles. I haven’t been brave enough to try another genre yet. But I think I’d prefer using my name, as I always have. People will associate it with children’s stories so I think it would confuse readers if I changed at this point. I might be confused too, looking for an identity! D
    Deanie Humphrys-Dunne recently posted..What is Creative Non-Fiction?My Profile

  13. I think it depends a lot on the nature of the author. Some people get bored more quickly or have such diverse interests that they feel compelled to genre hop and that works for them. If that’s what keeps the writing motivation going then that’s what they should do.

    From a marketing standpoint, it makes sense for a writer to stick to the same genre if that’s what’s selling for them. If they get a string of hits then maybe they might want to experiment off genre to keep things fresh for them. But as long as the sales are happening and the money is rolling in then it’s probably a good plan to stay with the genre that works.

    Arlee Bird recently posted..Whew! Now That We’ve Got That Behind Us…My Profile

    • You’re right. From a marketing standpoint it does makes sense to stick to 1 genre if the author is selling but I think in order to get to that point (unless you’re an overnight success!) it just takes time.

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