As I mentioned in my previous post, I whipped up a little short story last weekend (which went live on Amazon earlier this week). No surprise, it’s SciFi. However, it also crosses over into Horror. While I’ve written short stories that bordered on the Horror genre back when I was younger, I’ve never really embraced that genre to any extent. That’s less of a knock on Horror and more of an indication of what I enjoy writing. I’ve always focused on SciFi, since that was always a love of mine from early on.
After doing a lot of reading on the subject, I had to pose this question to myself:
Is it bad for an author to mix genres? How about changing genres altogether? I’m going to attempt to lay out some pros and cons, and then offer my humble opinion on the subject.
First, the cons.
Alienating your reader base. Huh?
Yes, that is possible. You see, more often than not, your readers enjoy your work for one reason – it fits into a genre (or genres) that they enjoy reading. Sure, there are always fans of an author, and no matter what they do, they will follow. But I would have to assume that the latter is a much smaller portion of that base than the former.
The second con that I’ve read about is having to create a new base, completely separate from the other. While there are fans that enjoy any genre, again, they probably fit into a smaller population. Most readers that I know of stick to a certain subset and only read within that area. I’m not really one of those, but I can say that there are certain genres that I am just not interested in, and most likely would not read. An established genre-specific author would essentially be introducing themselves as a new author – which, from personal experience, is difficult to say the least.
What about the pros. Yes there are a few, believe it or not.
While many of the experts will tell you to “write what you know” or to stick to a genre and hone your skill there, I disagree. Readers are readers, and the astute of that group can tell when something is well-written – regardless of genre. So why should it matter that someone who is a SciFi author is writing a historical novel. Or a Romance author is trying their hand at Horror?
It shouldn’t. As long as it’s thought out, structured well and has great character development – who cares?
As a second pro, I will foil the second con above by using its own argument against it!
Are you really having to create a new base? That would be a really bad assumption, in my opinion, because as I mentioned there are plenty of readers that read multiple genres. So why not assume that some of your reader base from one genre would pick up something from another?
The most notable (recently) example would be JK Rowling. She took the leap from being one of the most well-known children’s fantasy authors to writing crime fiction under a pseudonym. And had someone not leaked that information, we might have never known. Was it successful? You tell me. Sales of the book went from just under 10k copies, to being the #1 Best Seller on Amazon after the reveal – and I’d be willing to wager that most of those sales came from existing Rowling fans, despite it not being in their genre.
The moral there? There’s no reason to have to alienate a reader base. Your fans are your fans, and if you decide to hop genres for a novel or two – do it. They will greet you warmly upon your return (if you choose to come back).
What you’ve actually done is increase your reader base. And that can never be a bad thing.
Full circle back to how I started – Homecoming (Terran Z Prelude) was published earlier this week. It wasn’t intended to be anything other than a short, and really just something to celebrate Halloween. I literally formulated, wrote, edited, designed a cover and published it within a 96-hour window last weekend. However, after finishing it up, my mind began to think about the possibilities of how it could become something bigger (hence, the addition of the actual title ‘Terran Z’).
So while I ‘never say never’ and all that jazz when it comes to writing anything outside of SciFi, I suppose there’s a decent chance that I may be writing a Horror novel before it’s all over.
(BTW, it’s only $.99 right now – and a little birdie told me that it will be free next Wednesday and Thursday)