6 Tips for Authors Who Write in Multiple Genres

A few weeks ago, I compared genres to food groups (you can read that post here).

At the end of that post, I said, “There are ways to clarify things for your readers, publishers, and marketers.” This week, I want to share a few of those ways.

6 Tips for Authors Who Write in Multiple Genres

Disclaimer

Before I begin, though, I need to make two things perfectly clear.

1. If you write in one genre and only one genre, that’s okay.

2. If you write in more than one genre, that’s okay.

There is no single rule, method, technique, practice, or attitude that works for every writer who has ever lived, is now living, or ever will live. No magic bullet. No one-size-fits-all. None of that.

Writers are like Olympic athletes. Some are decathletes, able to do well and succeed in events as varied as the long jump, the pole vault, and the hundred yard dash.

Others are single event specialists who can run a sparkling dash, but don’t do pole vaulting or steeplechasing.

Whichever camp you fall into, be the best you can be.

The Purpose of This Post

The purpose of this post is to help those who write in more than one genre find ways to build readership and brand for each of the genres in which they write.

The first thing I need to tell you is that you’re not alone. Many successful authors have written in multiple genres. Who, you ask? Here are a few whose names you might recognize.

  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • H. G. Wells
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • James Patterson
  • John Grisham

There are many others, as well, so if you write in multiple genres, you are in good company.

So how do you juggle the genres? There are nearly as many answers to that as there are writers. Following are six ideas to get you started.

1. Different Genres; Same Name
James Patterson and John Grisham write under the same name regardless of the genre. They’ve chosen to let their readers determine on a book-by-book basis what they want to read.

If you’ve already written and/or published several books in different genres, this is probably the option that will work best for you. Especially if you’ve already established followings for each of the genres in which you work.

With the advent of electronic books and book marketing, the use of tags, and search features, you can still separate your books by genre and allow readers to look for all of your historical novels without having to wade through all of your science fiction novels or travel documentaries.

2. Different Genres; Different Names
Another option, especially for writers who are lightly published or unpublished is to consider using a different name for each genre you work in.

Stephen King also wrote under the name Richard Bachman (though he wrote horror under both identities).

Nora Roberts also writes under the pen name J. D. Robb.

Find pen names you like for each of the genres in which you write. Choose names that you’re likely to respond to. For example, I’m known for art as Carrie L. Lewis. When it comes to writing, I’m Carrie Lynn Lewis. In either case, I answer to Carrie and to Carrie Lynn equally well.

3. Establish One Genre
Find the genre that’s most “you.” Push it for all it’s worth. Get as many works published in that genre as you can, develop your target audience, and woo them.

When you’ve done that, you can then invite your loyal readers to try out a new genre with you. They won’t all take you up on your invitation, but some will.

4. Promote Your Work
Nobody knows your writing or your story better than you do. Take the time to promote each new novel like it’s the only one. Do not–let me repeat DO NOT–leave this all important work to someone else, no matter how you publish.

5. Build Relationship With Readers
Take the time to answer reader questions. If you keep a blog, keep up with the comments and reply to each one. Be friendly when you make public appearances. If you treat readers like friends instead of like potential book buyers, you’ll develop a lot of friends and a lot of those friends will become book buyers.

6. Write The Best You Can
If you hope to be published, gain a readership, and be successful (however you define success), there is no shortcut for writing the best fiction or nonfiction you can. None. Make every book you write the best book you can write and publish nothing before its time.

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