Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Genre...Genre...what's a writer to do?

As a reader, I've always read multiple genres. Early in life, I thrived on science fiction and mysteries, later discovering suspense, horror and romance.

And although I started off reading historical romance, that quickly divided into time travel, paranormal and eventually I discovered science fiction romance! Oh joy!

But as a writer, I'd always thought I had to settle on one genre and stick with it. How else could I hope to develop loyal readers who'd anxiously wait for my next story? If I flitted from one genre to another, would I lose readers who liked my historical romances, but wouldn't be caught dead reading a sci-fi?

My first published romance, Erin's Rebel, was a time travel. So, in a way, I was mixing genres from the start. But time travel is pretty much a staple in traditional romances, so I thought I was safe in starting out with a TT. But selling it wasn't all that easy. Seems the setting, the American Civil War, is currently an unpopular period with romance readers, or so acquiring editors told me. I nearly gave up on it, and started writing a straight historical, although that too, was set during the Civil War.

I know, I'm stubborn. But I felt so much passion for the period, I hoped it would come through enough in both stories that an editor would eventually overlook the setting and fall in love with the story. As a result, both books released within months of each other.

But, I also wrote several novella length stories and all of those varied in genre as well. With the exception of the Civil War settings, these stories included reincarnation and vampires, as well as one straight historical.

So, where do I plan to go now?

My new works in progress include a post Civil War historical and a science fiction romance. I'm also contemplating a post Civil War reverse time travel and a few contemporary romances.

My question to readers is, do you stick to one genre in your reading or do you like variety? And if you really like an author's books, would you read a book by him or her in another genre, even if it's one you don't usually read?

For writers, do you only write in one genre, because you fear alienating readers, or do you like to experiment in different genres and hope to lead loyal readers from one to another?

Happy reading and writing!!


Isabel Roman said...

I jump all over, Susan. I'll read a Regency one day (currently into my alternate takes on Pride & Prejudice) then a contemporary young adult (Percy Jackson how I love that series!) then a contemporary romantic suspense (Roxanne St. Clair is awesome!)

As for writing...yeah I jump all over there, too. But for the purposes of your question, if I like an author enough, I'll read anything and everything no matter the genre.

(And for some reason I refuse to contemplate, my word verification is retard.)

Caroline Clemmons said...

Susan, I read all genres. I love Jayne Ann Krentz, for instance, and also read her Amanda Quick series. I think an author's voice is more important than the subgenre, don't you?

Susan Macatee said...

Hi, Isabel and Caroline!

Thanks for your imput. I like to think most readers are like us and being a writer, I want to have the freedom to write whatever I want.

And you got 'retard' Isabel? LOL. I don't think that in any way defines you.