Pick a genre, they say. Write what you know. Take a stand, grab your brand. Let people–readers–know what to expect.
Sounds like solid advice, but I’m having trouble following it. I’ve focused on contemporary romance the past couple of years, thinking that with the same excellence in writing, it would be easier to sell a romance novel than a fantasy. Quite simply, more romances are sold. More romance publishers are willing to take a chance on a new author. I spent awhile figuring out what my niche in romance would look like, and writing the novel that would fill that niche. It’s out on the agent prowl right now after several requests at ACFW conference in September.
But my fantasy worlds have not let go. They’re elbowing the contemporary romances, begging for attention. So a couple of months ago, I decided my next novel would be a YA fantasy, the idea for which has been percolating for several years on my brain’s back burner.
Then an opportunity came up to create proposals for some contemporary romances. Ideas flowed, and friends encouraged. So I spent a couple of weeks working these out, hoping to get the chance to write them.
Meanwhile, I’d begun asking for updates on some novels that have been out for awhile, and that resulted in a full manuscript being requested for my complete fantasy novel, Majai’s Fury. I realized that my skills have developed in the two years since that novel began making the rounds, so I’m taking a week to brush through it before sending it in.
Back and forth. Romance and fantasy. I think I could live like this. But would readers follow?
Vivian Arend says
Will they follow? Yes, and no.
It’s the voice of an author people seem to enjoy. Then you add in their personal reading preferences to the mix. I find most of my paranormal readers enjoy my contemporary work, while less of the pure contemp readers cross over.
In the end, though, I enjoy writing both, so it makes me happy to have the variety. And really, that’smy goal. To enjoy what I’m doing.
You may find two distinct audiences, or, as Viv has noted, people will follow you for your voice or other things unique to you. Some (not as many as you like) will take a chance on a genre they don’t normally read because it’s you. Others will pick up the other genre book thinking it’s the one they primarily read and send you nasty notes for “deceiving” them.
There’s absolutely no reason not to pursue both genres with equal enthusiasm. I had not been a big romance reader when I read yours, but I loved the book. I have read some fantasies (but still don’t consider myself a big fan), and I’d definitely read yours, because I like your style.
Bonne Friesen says
Holly Lisle talks about this in ‘How To Think Sideways’. I haven’t read the lesson in a while, but to paraphrase, she says you can avoid being “typecast” by having identifying threads throughout your body of work. This way it’s possible to cross genres and keep your ‘brand’ in tact. As said above, it’s the voice that fans will follow. New-to-you readers might try your new genre for the genre’s sake, and then be led to your other work.
It might be worth looking at the lesson again for more insight into your struggle.
Thank you, all three. I do agree that ‘some’ readers will follow, and some who won’t. The same is true of me as a reader when one of my fave authors shifts genres. Even Holly. I’m a huge fan of her fantasy work, but not as interested in her romantic suspense. I did read the first one. I did see Holly in it. But I guess it wasn’t the part of her that attracted me to her other books? Not sure!
All I know is that more than one type of world seems to live in my head, and while I can turn one off for a year or two (maybe!), it won’t be denied forever.
(And thanks, Jean, for the personal validation. That means a lot to me.)
Bonne Friesen says
Don’t deny it! Embrace it! I still think it’s a cool aspect of your ‘brand’ that you’re from a specific religious/ethnic background that didn’t exactly celebrate fantasy, but it’s a part of you anyway. The Father’s image won’t be denied – we are creative beings.
And that’s a good point — since you’re writing from a Christian orientation first, the romance and fantasy elements may bring a sound message to completely different audiences. Audiences you’re capable of reaching because of your calling to two completely different genres.
Well, even the fantasy novels have a lot of romance in them, lol. Somehow the Mennonite parts of me haven’t obviously shown up in anything I’ve written yet, thought they may be there subliminally.
Eh, so you write under two names so as not to confuse people, and then have a website that links all the “names of you” for those willing to follow. Having read your romance, SF, fantasy, and even a YA short story a while back, I’d say that there are some consistencies across them while there are also significant differences that make each appropriate for the genre.
Here’s the hard part, though. If you’re going to play in more than one genre, figure out what your commitment can be so you don’t end up struggling to meet contracts that ask for too much.
Yes, two names would help. The dual contract thing…well, right now it’s hard to imagine that, but you’re right, something to keep in mind. 🙂