Thursday, May 12, 2016

Diversity In Your Writing Can Be A Dangerous Thing

The question I hear from a lot of authors is whether or not they should try to write a variety of different genres. There seems to be this belief that if one genre doesn't work, then another might stick when those submissions go out. While this might sound like a great idea on the surface, I personally would not recommend this to an author until he or she gets a good following and an audience.

I do know a lot of authors out there believe that writing in a lot of genres is a good way to figure out where they want to write. I have no problem with this, assuming you are still in the hobby and practicing phase of your writing. Sure, go for it! Write all that you want! If you want to try writing screenplays to understand dialog, then write one. If you want to write science fiction or fantasy and want to understand world building, then write one. But, if you are looking at making that bigger move to being a professional published author, I recommend sticking to one...for now.

There are several reasons here. The first deals with developing a firm understanding of that given genre. As we all know, each genre has specific nuances. Writing historical set in Scotland involve a lot more than simply putting your hero in a kilt. Put the wrong guy in the wrong kilt and you have some huge issues. 

But it is more than that. Each genre has a unique voice for pacing, word choice structure and so forth. It take time to really learn and understand that genre. 

Secondly, when pitching to editors, if the first story doesn't quite work, there is often the follow up question of "What else do you have?" If your other story isn't in the genre that editor acquires, you may be out of luck. The point is, if they liked your voice enough to want to see more, it is a shame not to have something else to give to them. 

In terms of marketing your books, you want to really stick to a single brand. Remember you are tying to build your audience base. You want people to keep coming back to you. If you write contemporary romance, and that first book is great, you want the readers to come back for more. If your only other books in a science fiction mystery, the odds are, those contemporary readers will not come back.

Now, does this mean you cannot diversify. Absolutely not! There are plenty of authors out there who have found success with taking different approaches. But what you will notice is that they took the time to get one genre going well first BEFORE they shifted.

In other cases, writers may try this approach but use different author names. Sometimes this approach is fine, but, I should warn you taking this approach can be bit hard to juggle. Just be careful.

So, before you think about diving into another genre, stop and think first. Weigh the situation. Where are you at in your career. If you are still playing around with writing, then go for it. If you are serious about making this a full career, then weight the costs and the consequences. 

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