Changing Genres: Powerful Strategy or Reckless Move?
You started writing in your first genre without a lot of thought. Maybe you figured that vampire romance would sell well or that steampunk pirates was a fun idea. So you wrote it. Maybe one book, maybe ten. Then, for whatever reason, you had to stop and ask the question: is this what you’re going to write forever, or would you be better off doing something else?
People have different reasons for wanting to switch genres. Maybe your inner hatred of paranormal romance is beginning to manifest, or you simply have a hard time figuring out how to market something as niche as steampunk pirates. Maybe you just have an itch to try something different.
Unfortunately, adding more to your proverbial plate is not always a good idea. You might fail to establish yourself in any genre or alienate yourself from a currently devoted audience.
Here are a few thoughts to consider if you’re wondering whether to change it up.
The Good Things
Burnout can destroy your future as a writer. It’s vicious and hard to recover from, and genre fatigue is one of its leading causes. If you’re starting to feel burnout from your writing, you’ll need to change something. If you’re pursuing a full-time career in writing, switching genres might even be necessary. In this case, don’t shy away from it. Find something that excites you and gives you new ideas.
It’s also worth noting that you won’t necessarily alienate your current fans. People who like paranormal romance might enjoy alien romance as well. Likewise, two subgenres in the same overarching genre (vampires and fae, for an urban fantasy twist) have a lot of cross-over readers and allow for more flexibility for you as an author. It’s a good idea to be aware of these similar genres even if you decide against switching over for now just in case you want some extra excitement in the future.
Critical reason to pursue multiple genres: You might have come to the realization that you’re not well-suited to the genre that you started out in. Maybe you’ve read more books in that genre or realized that you’re actually much better at a different genre. Don’t feel like you’ve chained yourself down to one genre when that could be the very thing holding you back. Many writers sabotage their own progress by feeling pressured to keep writing what they started instead of switching to something that is both more fun and more lucrative. If you know you’re holding yourself back, take action.
Ebook readers love binging on their favorite genres. Anyone who follows you in particular probably loves the genre that you write in and especially wants to read more of that. If you start writing in something different, your readers might get confused and miss your old stuff. If it looks like you’re not returning to it, they might leave you and find someone else.
Staggering or alternating your genres is one way to keep everyone interested while growing your audience. This is a popular way mainstream authors keep themselves entertained, but it does come with more upkeep. You’ll need to maintain a predictable publishing rhythm and style your newsletters, website, and social media to appeal to readers from different genres.
Critical reason to avoid new genres: When you’re starting out, you need to establish yourself any way possible, building a backlist and reputation. If you bounce from one genre to another early on or fail to stick to a consistent genre, you’ll have a hard time getting your name out there and rising up the charts.
Is it worth it?
If your goal is commercial, and you want to sell as many books as possible as soon as possible, the answer is now. It’s a lot easier to establish yourself in a single genre and focus on dominating it instead of spreading yourself thin with everything that looks fun. But there are a lot of exceptions. Bouncing from genre to genre is better than forcing yourself into a state of irreversible burnout, and if you think you’d perform better in a different genre, it could be a powerful call.
Your relationship with your readers is also important. Always be careful how you handle new genres with your current audience and work to establish that you’re a flexible person who enjoys many different things.
How do you handle working in different genres? Please sign in to comment in the section below. Alternatively, you can click the blue button to join my Facebook group for self-publishing fiction writers.