Monday, August 11, 2014

Why Writing In Multiple Genres Might Not Be A Wise Move

Like everything in this business, there will always be exceptions to the rule. There will always be those writers out there who figure out how to do what many in the business might advise them not to do. I get it. Today, however, I want to focus my attention on those newer writers. More specifically, I am speaking to those of you who are still working toward getting that first contract, or you have just signed that first contract.

We see a lot of writers today working in multiple genres and we aren't talking about slight variations of a theme, such as Regency and then Victorian Historical Romances. I am talking about those authors writing things such as Contemporary YA and then writing Paranormal Romantic Suspense. They go out there and prove to the publishing world they can do it, and yes, they can. But we have to remember that these authors have established their career. They have probably moved into this as a full time career now and, more importantly, they have a following. But new authors don't have either of these characteristics.

This is really not so much an issue of making money as it is time management and learning the genre.

First of all, consider the time it takes to write a book. If you are writing series romance, the odds are you can write 4 books a year (maybe more). This is not due to the fact that these are formula stories, but the length of the story is already established and you probably have the plots of the story already figured out with familiar
tropes. But here is the other twist. You as an author already understand that particular line. If you are someone like Helen Lacey who writes for Superromance, or Amy Ruttan who writes for Harlequin Medical, these are authors who know the nuances of the line. They get the voice. But for each of these authors, it took them some time to figure out the voice and find their own place in these lines. For new authors, however, you are still learning the ropes and finding your own voice.

Now consider that time. Let's assume you are new at this and writing a book in 3-4 months. If you launch into a new genre, that is a 3-4 month writing gamble as you attempt to learn the craft over again. You are starting from ground floor again. Instead, if you took that 3-4 months and polished your original genre. You took the time to work out the kinks, the odds are you will either get to that first sale, or certainly increase sales if you are already on the published side of things.

The second element is also involved with learning the line. I mentioned a lot of this earlier, but I do see a lot of authors jumping from one genre to the next to "find what they really want to write." While this sounds like a great approach, the problem is that you aren't really learning anything well. For me, I equate this to the parents out there that have their kids in every sport and every activity possible. These parents are going for quantity and not quality. Sure they have exposed their kids to a lot of different things and now, they have kids that are pretty much at a C-Level in each of those activities. Had they limited what they had the kids doing and give them a chance to learn and excel in a particular area, they might have done much better.  The same goes for writing.

There is one final element to consider and this shows up in the early submission process. Should we have an author we like but the project just isn't right for us at the time, we often ask if there is anything else that might work for us. For example, we loved your historical but that story just wasn't working for us. So we want to see another historical. If an author can only throw us a story that is in another genre, maybe something we don't represent, the door just closed on that author.

In all honesty, writing in a lot of genres is not something I would recommend to any new author. Get good at one area, focus in on it, and then, we can talk about other genres or lines.

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