Writing in different fiction genres is something many authors do, to satisfy their creative writing muse.
But does changing fiction genres hurt your author brand over the long term?
The author brand is what brings longevity to authors who are approaching their writing as a professional career, something they are striving to have as a main source of income and fulfillment.
Being able to make significant income from your writing means you need to approach publishing as a business. Yes, flexing those left brain muscles.
Now, a big part of creating an author brand with a growing audience of readers who “BUY” your books, is establishing a style of writing, a “voice” which readers come to love and expect from your books.
These readers are super-fans, who buy again and again. They long for the next release.
This is how successful authors make an income from writing.
Here’s the thing…
The reason why they have these loyal readers who buy their books, is because the author has instilled an “expectation” for the readers on what they’ll receive with every new book. For the most part, it’s tied in with the genre.
Authors have a style of writing, and one or two strong themes that occur throughout each of their books to varying degrees. It’s this style of writing and story telling in a genre that readers come to know and love.
Let me say that again; a style of writing and story telling within a genre that readers come to know, love and…”expect”.
Can you see where I’m going with this?
If you’re constantly changing fiction genres with each and every book you publish as an independent author starting out, you won’t get the benefit of building that loyal readership that is willing to buy your books because they know what to expect.
You would be diluting your target audience of readers you’re trying to build. For example; writing a mills and boon novel and then switch genres entirely to dark horror.
It’s one reason why so many authors don’t get any traction. They switch and switch again, with no consideration for the readers.
This is not the mentality of an enterprise author who is mindful of their author brand.
Crossing genres like this means you don’t reap the benefits of having established your readers “expectations”, having that trust that drives them to buy your next book.
Yes, there are exceptions
- Established authors who have built large followings over the years, can turn the dial and diversify with a degree of success. Most recently is J. K. Rowling’s release of The Casual Vacancy, which is an adult novel with strong themes, venturing well off path from the optimistic fantasy story telling of Harry Potter. Her new book was received with mixed reviews, yet was still a financial success in any measurement of a typical best selling book.
- Authors who can produce a large volume of work consistently in a short space of time. By short space of time, I’m talking weeks not years. This is most common with authors writing serial fiction. Short works of 20k-40k per book, part of a larger cohesive series. Author duo Sean Plat and David Wright of the Yesterday’s Gone series on Amazon is the perfect example of this. These two guys have a system for collaboration and producing complete books in a space of as little as a few weeks. They’re now venturing into different genres, taking a more holistic approach to their author brand as storytellers. It’s much easier to cross the genre chasm, because they’re able to build a very large catalogue of books which can sustain the different tastes of readers.
What about independent authors starting today?
The average upcoming independent author breaking into publishing, doesn’t have the established brand of J. K. Rowling or the ability to produce the volume of work that Sean and David do.
If you’re a writer with a firm goal to make an income writing, who has limited time from holding down a day job, with kids, perhaps even health issues, then focusing your limited time and effort on a genre will give back more bang for the time you put in. Having that one genre focus, not diluting your small body of work, will allow you to build a more targeted readership of readers willing to buy your books.
This focus will allow you to create an expectation for your readers which I referred to earlier, which weighs heavily on readers buying your future books.
You’ll have more success writing in the same genre where you’ve set an expectation, and being more familiar with the one genre will also allow you to write more books quickly to satisfy your paying readers.
It’s true you should listen to your muse and write what you love, but if you’re taking a long hard look at making writing a real source of income and fulfillment, then you need to stop and think about this and it’s impact to your author brand over the long term.
Of course, once you’ve established a loyal fan base and have fairly consistent sales, you can consider diversifying.
Ask yourself this…
What’s your favourite fiction genre to write in? Which one do you keep coming back to?
That might be the genre you should stick with for the time being.
Be the captain of your own ship