Genre-Jumping

As an author, you often hear that you should pick a genre and stick with it.

Does anyone else find this as impossible as I do?

I love speculative fiction. ALL speculative fiction. And, going back to Thursday’s post, it’s so hard to separate the genres out completely anyway.

Fantasy, for example, is such a ginormous genre. You could pick a subgenre to stay in – epic fantasy, for example – but that’s got to get boring after a while. But say you pick fantasy. You can write anything as long as it’s fantasy.

But then you find yourself venturing into Steampunk. Hmmm, well, technically Steampunk can go either fantasy or scifi, so you might be okay, but it’s a slippery slope from there and before you know it, you’ve got a deep space exploration series going and you’re three books in.

You could argue that “speculative fiction” counts as sticking to a genre, but again, very large range of stuff. If you write both romantic fantasy and hard science fiction, I can pretty much guarantee that not all your readers are going to read all your stuff. And that is, of course, the point of sticking to a genre – reader loyalty. If you always write cozy mysteries, then your readers KNOW your new book is a cozy mystery, and they will pick it up without a second thought.

If you write both thrillers and romance, your readers are going to have to do research on each new book to see if fits their tastes. It cuts down on automatic sales, and it cuts down on sales overall, because people are lazy and they may never get around to doing that research.

So, that’s the argument for genre stability.

That being said, I can’t seem to manage it.

I actively write paranormal, science fiction, horror, and several subgenres of fantasy. My shorts tend to be more purely speculative – near-future SF and bordering on magical realism horror/paranormal. My longer stuff tends to branch out into epic and urban fantasy, though there’s no real rhyme or reason to any of it.

If a story comes into my head and I want to write it, I do.

Am I screwing myself over by not committing? I have no idea. But the idea of stuffing myself into a box, and staying in there – not fun.

(And judging by the fact that scifi/fantasy authors often branch out into related and new subgenres – everyone else seems to be in agreement.)

What do you think, Squiders?

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kay Qy on 2012/07/31 at 2:51 PM

    I think limiting yourself to one genre or style just so people will be more likely to buy your books is about as smart as trying to write a particular genre because it’s currently popular. Sure, you might have to build up a name for yourself before you can publish something wildly different, or simply work harder to get the new story accepted, but being pigeonholed into one narrow type of story would be even worse.

    Reply

  2. I figure that’s what pen names are for… Even if you’re open about all of them being yours.

    Reply

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