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Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

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Offline JMac Reading
05 Oct 2014, 11:49 AM | Post: #1

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Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

Some of you may know that I have been quite lucky with Deceiving Ellie over the past two or three months, having got onto the 'also read' lists of a few authors whose books are selling steadily. Foolishly, I thought this would be good for Chickens but it doesn't seem to have any effect at all. I can think of two reasons for this (and I hope it's the first one that's the case) - either some people who have read Deceiving Ellie have had a look at Chickens and don't like the sound of it or hardly anybody who has read Deceiving Ellie enjoyed it enough to have a look at my other books!
I don't write for commercial reasons, but everyone likes to see their books sell. I don't really want to stick to one genre, but is this the only way to ensure there is any knock-on effect from a successful book?
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Offline TechnoHippy Reading One book at a time
05 Oct 2014, 12:04 PM | Post: #2

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

Your author name is your brand and spreading a brand across two many genres dilutes the brand. Some major authors use different pen names for the genres they write in.

I don't listen to my own advice :-) I write in a couple of genres with the same name. I'm not a commercial success though :-)
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Offline cecilia_writer Reading Murder by the Glass by Lynda Wilcox
05 Oct 2014, 12:09 PM | Post: #3

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

It's an interesting question. I'm never quite sure about the answer either. My original series of cosy mysteries does very much better than anything else I write under the same pen-name which is even slightly different (historical mystery, suspense) but I'm sure there is some reader crossover. But I am reluctant to stray too much further from the light-hearted mystery genre in case it doesn't work at all.
(Sorry, this isn't really an answer!)
Offline Jonathan Hill
05 Oct 2014, 12:33 PM | Post: #4

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

I don't think it's instant suicide. Ultimately, I think it comes down to the visibility of the book in question. I for one like to read writers who do give me variation! (By the way, Julie, I started Chickens recently and am enjoying it so far!)

My Maureen series and FAG couldn't really be further apart and yet they both sell. In fact, Maureen was my bestseller for ages and then when FAG came out, that became my most consistent seller. Are people who've discovered Maureen reading FAG? I have no idea. I think FAG's current selling success might be because it has been categorised as gay literary fiction. Because that's a fairly niche chart, it's been in there ever since its release so it's always on display. Which makes me conclude that visibility of individual titles is a strong factor, not just your overall readership.
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Offline JMac Reading
05 Oct 2014, 12:38 PM | Post: #5

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

Good points Jonathan - and I hope you continue to enjoy it!
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Offline Scribbler Reading TBR list - I hate you!
05 Oct 2014, 02:46 PM | Post: #6

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

Do you think a change of title may help, Julie? A 'chicken' to me is a quirky, egg-laying, wildfowl thingy, but if you have a look at 'chicken' in the Urban Dictionary you'll see it can mean something entirely different.  Undecided
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Offline Santos Reading
05 Oct 2014, 03:13 PM | Post: #7

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

(05 Oct 2014 11:49 AM)JMac Wrote: Wrote:  I don't write for commercial reasons, but everyone likes to see their books sell. I don't really want to stick to one genre, but is this the only way to ensure there is any knock-on effect from a successful book?
First, a disclaimer: I'm very new at all of this, and my understanding of the author's world is still in its embryonic stages so my opinion on the matter may not be all that valid.
 
If you do not write for commercial reasons then money from this endeavour is not your primary motivator, which implies that you write for the enjoyment that the action grants you. This is, In my view if no one else's, how all authors should write, as that is the only time when a truly good product can be created - for it is only when you enjoy the craft that you will be able to put 100% of your effort into your creation.   
 
If you enjoy it then go for it.
It is true that your name is your brand, but that doesn't mean that your brand is your genre. When i look at a brand what i care about is quality, i want to trust that the brand can deliver. What the brand is about is secondary so long as you trust it.

I hope that made at least some sense Rolleyes
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Offline Kath Middleton Reading Hell, yes!
05 Oct 2014, 03:16 PM | Post: #8

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

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.
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Offline Mads Sorensen Reading A Quiet Life by Natasha Walter
05 Oct 2014, 03:28 PM | Post: #9

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

This post was last modified: 05 Oct 2014 03:28 PM by Mads Sorensen.
Someone on this forum, I think it was Katherine Roberts, suggested that contrary to common belief, books rather than authors sell (unless they are big names, I'd imagine). So if you wrote another book in the vein of Deceiving Ellie, it would probably sell well, too.

My own thriller 15000 Feet below sells two copies a day and slowly rising, while my recently released futuristic story Echoes of The Kin hardly sells at all, and that's the one professional editors have liked the most. It could be a matter of time, but I suspect it has more to do with genre.
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RE: Is it commercial suicide to write in different genres?

I write in several genres, from general fiction, family saga, humorous fiction, teen action adventure, to children's animal detective stories, short stories etc. It means finding a different readership for each book and probably doesn't work as well as sticking to one genre, but I'm a 'been there, done that' writer and write how the mood takes me and what excites me at the time. If readers like one book then perhaps they will be encouraged to try my others. Using pen names used to be a nightmare for accounting and receiving cheques, so I stick to Jan Hurst-Nicholson, and Janet Hurst-Nicholson for my children's books. 
I don't think trad authors use different pen names as much as they used to. Alexander McCall Smith's No I Ladies Detective Agency (which I love) is very different from his other books (which I don't care for as much) and he seems to use the same name.
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