1. Bongo Mongo
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    Bongo Mongo Member

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    Multiple genres for one author: Ok, or not so much?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Bongo Mongo, Jan 24, 2010.

    Hello forums! I have multiple ideas for books in my head spanning many different genres, and I was wondering if it looks bad for an author to work with a full spectrum of genres. I probably won't even get one of them published, just simply curious.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I don't really think so.

    Iain Banks writes sci-fi and general (albeit a bit odd) fiction. And just look at the madcap array of different genres Stephen King writes.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Iain Banks uses a (slightly) different name to differentiate between genres, as did Stephen King. Barbara Vine is Ruth Rendall's literary fiction alter ego, Nora Roberts is J D Robb's romance pseudonym....writing multiple genres is fine, but it seems to be a good idea to use a pseudonym to keep the bodies of work separated.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's pretty well known that quite a few authors in more generally respected genres have also published formulaic romances under pseudonyms.

    Isaac Asimov is known not only for his science fiction, but also for fantasy, and has also written nonfiction books on diverse topics like the sciences and the Bible.

    Arthur C. Clarke is best known for his science fiction, but he also wrote general fiction centering on the ocean (he was an avid diver).
     
  5. MsMyth71
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    MsMyth71 Senior Member

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    My thoughts . . .

    The first project you are successful with will probably hem you into that genre at least for a while. From what I've heard from agents and such, the more of a "sure thing" you can present, the better. And what works better than something already tried/tested?

    I do think that some genres allow you to bleed over into others w/o issue (i.e. sci-fi/fantasy, horror/modern (supernatural) fantasy, etc.

    But, I think if you were to toss out some bodice-ripper and then want to write a serious hard sci-fi piece, you might have some resistance. :)
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    And if your publisher or agent was really concerned about the marketability of something very different under your name, but they thought it was a good enough book to sell, they could always just ask you to use a penname. Charles de Lint did that with a few books, as I'm sure several others that we don't know about did.
     
  7. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    I'm about to submit some bodice rippers :( right now, along with a picture book sometime in the next month or two, and if everything goes well a YA horror book later this year. Than I will move into big sci-fi and fantasy things. So I don't see any problems with multi-genre authors. But I plan on using different names.
    The picture book(s) will have a short form of my full name. The Y.A. horror will have my full name. The adult oriented books will have my initials, and the bodice rippers will have a female pseudonym that I will never admit to in public.
    That will keep everything suitably in genre for various people that care about it, and will help keep parents who might have bought the picture book for their 6 year old from buying the horror story.
    So go nuts and write up good stories in whatever genre you want. Just be ready to change your name.
     
  8. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    Just finished reading I, Robot the other day. I was very impressed.

    But on topic, I feel like as an author, you don't want to get stuck in one genre your entire career. You want to be able to branch out and prove that you can write well in any genre. As a fan and reader though, I'm always a bit skeptical when a favorite author of mine decides to do something different from their norm. I feel like they should stick with what they know and what their fans like. It all depends on which side of the book you're sitting on.
     
  9. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Genre is always a bit subjective, too. For example, Stephen King is known as a horror writer, but a good 40% of his writing isn't actually horror. And Anne McCaffrey is a brilliant sci-fi writer, but is most famous for the series Dragonriders of Pern, which is more like fantasy (albeit rational fantasy, which actually explains things rather than saying "it's magic!" and guffawing like an idiot).

    I think another factor in how easy it would be to be published in multiple genres, is which genres your talking about. For example, there is more wiggle room between the genres of "speculative" fiction (sci-fi/horror/fantasy), than between say a bodice ripper and hard sci-fi.
     
  10. Sieglinde
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    Sieglinde Member

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    I'm having this too. I'm working in Age of Sail, western and fantasy /steampunk genres.
     
  11. Bongo Mongo
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    Bongo Mongo Member

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    Is it impossible to have successful books in every genre without making a pen name?
     
  12. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    Pen names are just part of the business, and can help readers distinguish between types of books (so someone who like romances doesn't accidentally pick up a hard sci/fi book by the same author/name). Pen names are really no big deal.

    As for writing in multiple genres, I would say it is probably necessary if you want to make a living writing fiction. Most publishers only like to put out one or maybe two books a year under each pen name (romance among others can be an exception to this). One or two books a year won't make you a living unless you get lucky. It's a lot better bet to put out 3-5 books (5-20k per advance, see how that starts to add up? plus then the royalties if you earn them start coming in, and sub-rights and foreign sales... having a lot of inventory is a good thing). So learning to write in any genre that might fit the stories you want to tell is a good thing :)
     
  13. eliza490
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    eliza490 Member

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    I think there is nothing wrong with authors writing in different genres. However, if you become a successful writer and build a fan base you need to keep in mind that they may expect you to write more to that first genre. You don't necessarily have to cater to these expectations, but keep in mind that if you find a lot of readers and support when you write to one genre you may not get the same reaction when you write to a different one.

    ~Eliza
     
  14. .daniel
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    .daniel New Member

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    Stephen King was an excellent example, Banzai. His best work, in my opinion, is actually a fantasy series (the Dark Tower). And many of his short stories are thrillers or general fiction (granted, it is King's idea of general fiction, so they can be a little wonky).

    If you count his short stories as individiual works, he has written collectively more thriller, general fiction, and fantasy than he has written horror.
     

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