1. archerfenris
    Offline

    archerfenris Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2013
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Savannah, GA

    Genre Expertise

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by archerfenris, Apr 13, 2015.

    A week ago, a co-worker of mine found out that I write fiction in my free time. They asked me what I wrote. I replied, "Oh, a bit of everything. Except romance." Their response shocked me. They told me the best authors only write in one genre. I've always considered this an effect of the publishing system. I immediately though of Steven King, who, in my opinion, frequently writes out of the "horror" genre he's been type casted into. My mind next went to J.K. Rowling.

    What do you guys think? Should you become an "expert" so to say in one field, in the belief it will make you better, or continue to give genre classification the middle finger?
     
  2. Ben414
    Offline

    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2013
    Messages:
    974
    Likes Received:
    785
    The chances of you becoming the next JK Rowling or Stephen King is probably less than .001%, so I wouldn't base your decision on them at all. There are a number of writers on this forum who have multiple published books in the same genre, so they can probably give you some insight into why they stuck with their genre.
     
  3. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,667
    Likes Received:
    5,159
    I don't think it makes that much difference for the writing. There are some genre rules you have to learn, for sure, but they're not that tough.

    Where it becomes an issue is the publishing. It's generally considered important to keep your profile up and keep your name in front of readers. Depending on the genre, that might mean a book every couple years, or a couple books a year. For each genre. So if you're writing in more genres, you need to be a lot more prolific in order to maintain your audience.

    I've got contracts in m/f romance, YA romance, and m/m romance - all three of these are considered to be separate enough that there isn't much reader overlap, which means I need to keep up my publishing schedule for all three. My m/f publisher wants a book every 9-12 months. No problem. My YA publisher would like books every 6-9 months. Still no problem. My m/m publishers seem to think that books every 3-4 months is best. It starts to get a bit hectic, especially since I'm also writing NA, urban fantasy, and non-romance YA. If I get contracts in those areas, something's going to have to give.

    I'm pretty prolific, and I like variety. But I don't do nearly as much promo as a lot of other authors b/c I'm too busy writing.

    I think you have to ask yourself whether you're trying to make a career out of this or trying to have an enjoyable hobby.

    I'm essentially a hobbyist. Publishing is fun and I like the money and I want my books to sell, but I have a day job that pays well. If I were trying to make a living from writing? I'd probably cut back to one or two genres at the most.
     
    peachalulu likes this.
  4. archerfenris
    Offline

    archerfenris Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2013
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Savannah, GA
    Yes, fully aware of that. Thank you. But it would be nice, wouldn't it? *dreamy eyes*

    Awesome! This is what I was looking for. I never thought of possibly having two different publishers. I cycle my writing between political thrillers and fantasy, so this is something for me to think about. Putting out two books a year is possible, though a bit of work (particularly with how long fantasy novels are).

    Not trying to live on writing. Well, that is the dream, right? To live comfortably while only writing for work *dreamy eyes again*....sorry! Yes, most certainly a hobby. I'm just looking forward to seeing my name on a printed book one day. Excellent advice, thank you.
     
  5. Commandante Lemming
    Offline

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2014
    Messages:
    1,243
    Likes Received:
    1,001
    Write what you like.

    Some people do one thing. Some people go multiple directions. Heck some have multiple pen names for the different genres they write in. Even people who specialize can do different versions. For instance "YA" is not a genre, it's a reading level and a content rating. It's not unusual, for instance, for a fantasy writer to have both YA Fantasy and Adult Fantasy properties. It's also not unusual to see people who cross back and forth between Sci-Fi and Fantasy - to the point where people sometimes lump them together as "SFF' ("Sci-Fi and Fantasy) - really the only difference is that one uses science to make cool stuff happen an the other uses magic. George R.R. Martin is an example of someone who does that. Another interesting one is Dan Wells - he does a YA dystopian series called "Partials"...and he also writes the John Cleaver series which is straight-up horror about a teenage sociopath fighting his violent urges and eventually figuring out that he can satisfy his bloodlust by killing the demonic monsters that are killing people in his town.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2015
    peachalulu likes this.
  6. PrincessSofia
    Offline

    PrincessSofia Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2015
    Messages:
    118
    Likes Received:
    48
    Wow, how do you find time/energy to write that many books a year while having a job as well ? That's impressive !
     
    tonguetied likes this.
  7. Cave Troll
    Offline

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,828
    Likes Received:
    2,425
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Do as thou wilt, sir. The world is your oyster. Or my personal favorite: Variety is the spice of life.

    On less whimsical aspect. Don't worry about those who are stuck in a singular genre. Unless you think you are going to reinvent something that has probably been done way before either of those two, I would not sweat about it. By the way it has more to do with how you say it as opposed to what you say. There is a lot of trash out there that somehow made it despite how terrible a read it is. Just to clarify for the "Romance" crowd that I am using trash to include all genres, so don't take it personally this time (unless you really do write poorly plotted out, thin premised, word salad :D ) So have a seat, take a deep breath, and say: I got this. (cliché I know) Or take a more bold approach and remind yourself that you are going to own your own thing LIKE A BOSS! :p
     
  8. KevinMcCormack
    Offline

    KevinMcCormack Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2014
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    29
    I think the only benefit of 'specializing' is efficiency. Genres often have conventions, and it takes awhile to learn them, so a lot of authors stick to a handful of genres in order to get the most published work per hour invested.

    I don't think there's any justification for saying the 'best' authors do X, except to point out that the best authors write well.

    Having said that, it's possible that some authors write outside what's in their hearts, and maybe the work suffers. Your friend may have encountered a work like this and generalized.

    Regarding JKRowling as an example of somebody who has stuck to one genre... it's no secret that she writes the Cormoran Strike detective series under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

    Regarding Stephen King: ditto... he's written very successful novels in genres other than horror. His Dark Tower series could be described as fantasy/westerns, Firestarter is science fiction, as were most of the novels he published under the pseudonym "richard bachman" (eg: Running Man). He has continued to publish bestsellers in different genres.

    Another good example is Bruce Sterling, who writes both fiction and nonfiction quite well.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2015
  9. Simpson17866
    Offline

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    1,755
    Likes Received:
    1,297
    Neither.

    Saying that genre is the only thing that matters - such as the idea that writers should never write in more than one - will certainly stifle creativity, but saying that genre is worthless is even worse:

    David Fincher made a movie in the 90s starring Morgan Freeman, and the people in charge of promotions decided since Morgan Freeman was in Driving Miss Daisy, that they'd attract a test audience by emphasizing Driving Miss Daisy as an example of a movie starring the same lead as this movie. After one such test viewing, David Fincher overheard a middle-aged woman outside the theater tell her friends "Whoever made this movie should be shot."

    If genre distinctions didn't matter, then that reaction would not have happened.
     

Share This Page