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Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

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Offline Kath Middleton Reading Hell, yes!
06 Oct 2014, 09:14 PM | Post: #31

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RE: Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

Doesn't always work. I've occasionally shied away from a series because it means such a big time commitment.
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Offline Tim_A Reading strictly murder by Lynda Wilcox
06 Oct 2014, 10:42 PM | Post: #32

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RE: Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

There's more tracking for sure - the number of characters seems to increase exponentially with each book, and they all have to be tracked, both to make sure they end up in the right place at the right time, and that you don't kill off someone in book 2 that you had big plans for in book 3. And there's the minor characters in book 1, that maybe only had a line or two, or even just a walk-on, that you realise is exactly placed to do big things in book 3 or 4.

But as with all writing, it's easy when you break it down into little blocks - chapters, scenes, paragraphs. 100 word blocks even. Need to write 2000 words? That's 20 100-word blocks. Write 100 words - tick. Another 100 words - tick. And again - tick. That's 3 down just 17 to go...
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Offline navlogan Reading Faust 2.0 by Michael Brookes
07 Oct 2014, 06:21 AM | Post: #33

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RE: Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

(05 Oct 2014 03:16 PM)Ignite Wrote: Wrote:  I think you must write what interests and excites YOU.  Otherwise you'll never interest a reader. I've written (though not yet published all of) a number of books and rarely managed to hit the same genre twice! But I'm writing largely for me.

Very well put Kath, and I agree. I would agree wholeheartedly. It's the passion in your writing that matters. Personally, my Saga is Epic fantasy, and yet the book I am working on fr after this is based in modern day Ireland, although it's still a fantasy novel. Someof the short stories I have written experiment in other genres , Horror/Thriller and Sci-fi. All of these types of books I love to read, and therefore, Ihave something to contribute to that genre,
Looking at some big names, however, we also see diversity. Steven King for example has varied his genre.
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Offline Katherine Roberts Reading I keep forgetting to update this!
09 Oct 2014, 06:40 PM | Post: #34

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RE: Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

Books sell, rather than authors? I think that might have been a comment I made about the so-called "midlist"... i.e. if an author is not (yet) a big name, they might write a book that sells far better than all the other books they've written, so it's wrong to assume all books written by the same author will sell the same number of copies,  i.e. it's wrong to label an author as midlist, since every book an author writes is potentially different.

For very popular authors, the huge success of an early book can carry over to later books. Look at JK Rowling... when she wrote her first adult book, sales followed her popularity, not the genre. And when she came clean about her adult pseudonym, sales of that book did the same. In fact, the pseudonym  thing is interesting, since I understand before JK told everyone it was hers, that book (the crime one) had only sold averagely for its genre - which seems to prove that once an author becomes popular enough, their name becomes their brand.

It does seem that authors who write series are more commerically successful - but only if their books sell! I don't know the stats, but I'd guess that for every successful series author, there are others who write series that do not sell. I also know of children's publishers who create successful series around pseudonyms, and employ several different authors to write the books... e.g. Erin Hunter, Daisy Meadows, Adam Blade, etc are all several 'real' authors writing under the same pseudonym.
Offline JMac Reading
09 Oct 2014, 06:59 PM | Post: #35

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RE: Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

I think that's exactly the point I was making or the question I was asking, Katherine. I had (wrongly) assumed that there would be some kind of knock on effect from the sales of Deceiving Ellie, but it is quite different to my other books and I am certainly not very well known, so I think very few people have read it and decided to try one of the others. I suspect they are working through the 'also reads' list rather than the 'also written by' one.
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Offline catherine chapman Reading Loosely Translated by Simon Hugh Wheeler
20 Oct 2014, 11:00 AM | Post: #36

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RE: Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

This is an interesting discussion and there are a couple of things I would add to it.  Firstly, I think, as authors, we may overestimate how much effort readers make to look for our other books.  I've always followed Mark Coker of Smashwords' advice about making sure all your links to other books are up to date at the back of your ebooks.  I have had most commercial success with short historical romances I've written.  I published them all individually but, as the list of them grew, have also put them in anthologies, so that readers get better value for money.  I don't do free promos of the collections, whereas I do free promos of the individual stories.  So far the outcome has been that I still sell a lot more of the individual stories than the collections.  This suggests to me that either readers have very specific interests in reading the individual stories or (as I suspect is more likely to be the case), readers chance upon my individual stories because they get more publicity (via the knock-on effects of the promos) but don't see the collections.  So, what I've concluded is that, whilst some readers will search through back-matter to find your other books, it's probably not as many as you might think.
On the issue of writing across genres, I would second what's been said about writing what you enjoy but there's also the problem of reader expectation - the risk of being perceived by a reader as having deceived them.  I write short historical romance and longer fiction that has been described as 'off-beat' romance.  It is romance but it could also be described as contemporary women's fiction and it doesn't adhere to the norms of the romance genre.  I find my historical romance does much better than the longer stuff commercially, so I would say that readers looking for a particular genre do just go for that, and will probably ignore anything you've written that they don't like the look / sound of.  Beyond that, I also find that the romance genre is a bit of a minefield in itself, particularly in the US market, in terms of clean and more erotic romance.  I write across both these sub-genres and have been alarmed at reviews on Amazon.com that are obviously the result of readers who've enjoyed my 'clean' romances objecting to the more erotic ones.  So, even if you think you are sticking to one genre, there seems to still be scope to alienate readers who have very specific tastes for sub-genres within it.
My conclusion is that you have to be true to yourself.  I'm not sure how it would feel to have written a commercially successful book that you didn't really understand the appeal of.  But if you like it and readers like it, that's great.  I also think it's interesting to see which of your books do have appeal and which don't, and to take readers' feedback on board.  It's a learning process.
Offline JMac Reading
20 Oct 2014, 10:30 PM | Post: #37

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RE: Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

I think I've made the mistake of assuming other people do what I do when I've enjoyed a book - look at that author's page and, more often than not, download at least one other book. I'm not really a genre person, so it wouldn't matter to me if the author's other books sounded quite different, as long as they weren't completely out of my comfort zone.

I'm grateful for the point about links - I haven't even created any, let alone kept them up to date, so that's one thing I will certainly do.
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Offline Ray Kingfisher Reading No, Writing.
21 Oct 2014, 07:17 AM | Post: #38

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RE: Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

All of these concerns raised about multi-genre authors are valid. However, the more writers there are writing multi-genre, the more the reading public will adapt to it.

Indies seem to be at the forefront of this move, and the Indie market is the fastest growing one. I think in ten or twenty years time it won't be such a big deal as long as genre is clearly identified in the blurb.
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Offline catherine chapman Reading Loosely Translated by Simon Hugh Wheeler
21 Oct 2014, 08:26 AM | Post: #39

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RE: Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

Yes, it's definitely worth having those links, JMac, plus a list of your other titles at the front of the book.  If you'd like to see how I've done it, have a look at any of my free stories on Smashwords (you can just view the docs through the online reader - don't need to download them).  My SW page is:
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CatherineChapman
You're right about indies leading the way, Ray, and, on a positive note, my experiences of outraged romance readers have been from the US market, not UK, so we seem to be at an advantage on these shores having a native readership who already seem to be broad-minded and open to reading beyond defined generic constraints.
Offline JMac Reading
21 Oct 2014, 09:06 PM | Post: #40

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RE: Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

Thanks Catherine, that's very helpful - it's on my list of things to do soon.
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