What the Hell is My Genre?

Today I’d like to have more of a discussion than a post where I talk at you. I know, it’s rare, right?

First, some promotional stuff to get out of the way: Tomorrow is the official launch day for DIRTY TRUTHS. Author, Hanna Elizabeth, has joined me on Facebook to officially launch her latest book, CONCESSIONS. If you’re just hanging around tomorrow, come on over to the Virtual Launch Party page and say hello. We’re giving away more than 20 eBooks, and I’ve got tons of fun planned.

Now, to the question of the day, which has been occupying my thoughts as I try to establish something that resembles a marketing plan: What the hell is my genre?

What’s yours? Do you write in just one? More than one? Does it matter? I don’t have a specific genre, to be honest, but I know it’s something that DOES matter when you’re sitting down to figure out how you’ll market your books.

As you all know, I write romance, crime/suspense, and sometimes fantasy (in the form of paranormal fiction. That’s fantasy, right?) I write romance because I find it challenging. Yes, I said challenging. It is EXTREMELY hard to write to a formula, although many believe the opposite. Writing something fresh, engaging and “unique” is hard to do when you have to fulfill certain criteria.

I even have a slipstream novel in the works. (Although, I didn’t know that until I asked another author to help me define it the other day.) And my gods series is most definitely paranormal romance and completely different from everything else I’ve written.

The only similarity (I think) between my books is the voice, obviously, and I try to add humor in each one too, as well as at least one character that’s dark and twisted. Sometimes the whole cast is messed up. Basically, I write what fits the story in my head, but it rarely falls neatly into a single genre. We all have that problem, I’m sure, but should we modify our books so they WILL fit into a genre, or do we leave them alone? I think to see any success in the traditional industry; you have to be willing to bend a little to make your books easier to market.

Sometimes I feel like I need to “warn” readers who like a particular book that the next book isn’t quite the same. It’s probably not necessary, I know, but I worry readers will expect one thing and get something else entirely. If you like crime/suspense, for example, and enjoyed IN THE BONES, and you pick up LUCKY, the difference would be quite startling, and maybe not in a good way.

The bottom line: Promoting multiple genres under a single name is a bitch. Readers that enjoy one book may not like what you publish in a different genre. Piss of a reader and that’s it, folks. So how do you do it? How do you cultivate a broad enough reader base?

Should you use a pen name? I don’t like that idea. I worked hard to build the readers I have with this name. The thought of building a new following of readers with a different name brings on a mental breakdown.

I’m still working on the answer to all of this, so I’d love to hear your suggestions. Has the industry changed enough for authors to spread our wings a little more? Have you had success writing multiple genres? How do your readers respond?

2 thoughts on “What the Hell is My Genre?

  1. NO PEN NAMES. Unless one of the genres you write in is seriously despised or ridiculed by the readers of the other genre (for example, hard science-fiction and bodice-ripping erotica, or noir crime and regency romance), and you feel the need to hide behind that pen name like a chicken.

    I think the key to mixing genres under a single name is to make it immediately apparent which of the genres each book belongs to. You can accomplish that by having distinct cover design styles (and respect the style within each genre), titles that follow a pattern and hint at the genre, and even a different blurb writing style. Catchy, snappy blurbs for the crime novels, sweet, emotional blurbs for the romance novels. You know, make them appeal to the respective audience by using the emotion they’re looking for in that genre: suspense in crime novels, fluffy feels in romance. 😛

    You just made me curious — which of your novels is slipstream? False Prophet? Have you changed it that much?

    I was confused at first about my genre as well. I thought I’m writing psychological thrillers, in a sci-fi setting or even a contemporary one. I thought that’s what I’m good at, that’s what’s inside. *taps index on chest* But the more I read and wrote, the more I realized that what I want to write, what I love to write, and what I was inadvertently writing, is space opera. Large scale, adult science-fiction, series (or at least trilogy) material. *shrug* I doubt I’ll write another genre anytime soon (and with that I mean the next 10 years or so), but I’ll never say never.

    1. No, not False Prophet. Obamageddon is what I would classify as slipstream. It might be different by the time I’m done too.

      And I tried to peg your manuscript as I read. Space opera… yes. 🙂

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