Why would a writer think about changing genres? What does she need to know before switching to a new genre? Let’s explore.
Reasons for Changing Genres
- Experimentation. This is particularly true with new writers. They haven’t found their voice, their market niche yet. Or, a more established writer wants to try something new.
- Write to market. Academy? Reverse harem? If the market is trending in a certain direction, some writers want a piece of that lucrative pie.
- Genre fatigue. I’ve written paranormal romances for twenty years. Elves, witches, vampires, even a fairy godmother. It hasn’t brought me as much joy as it once did. I looked at paranormal mystery, and the words come so much easier. Ideas abound, and I’m planning books three, four, five stories in advance. (a perfect opportunity to foreshadow future events).
- Flat or no sales in the current genre. Nothing is more disheartening than to put your heart, soul, and time into a story and have low sales. Too many writers ask, “What’s the point?”
- Low or no reviews. See above.
The Hazards of Changing Genres
- Not knowing the genre’s reader’s expectations
- Ignoring the genre’s tropes
- Not reading the genre’s books
- Not taking a new pen name if the new genre is radically different from the old one. Readers expect a certain story when they buy your book. Don’t confuse them by giving them something else. You’ll lose readers in both genres.
What You Can Do When Changing Genres
- Read at least fifty books in the new genre to learn the expectations and tropes.
- Read reviews of books in your new genre to know what pleases and doesn’t the reader
- Learn the style of the new genre. What P.O.V. is used? First? Third? What conflicts are normal? For example, in cozy mysteries, the murder takes place off-screen. What the typical word count? What do the covers have in common?
- Develop a marketing plan for that genre.
- Seek out and participate in social media with the audience and writers of the new genre. Each genre has specific Facebook groups. Find them and hang out. Ask questions. Make comments. Be part of the social interaction. The time to promote your new book will come later, usually on specific days of the week. (Promo Saturday, etc.)
- If you do use a new pen name, don’t interact as that alternate identity. Don’t trick your audience. For example, for my new mystery series, I’m using the pen name Noel Cash. I’ve been upfront and transparent with my newsletter readers and in the “About the Author” end pages in my books. I don’t plan on interacting as Noel.
- If you do take a new pen name, make sure it fits the genre and isn’t already taken. Do a Google and Amazon check. If I pick up a book by Penelope Fairhaven, I’m expecting a Regency or sweet romance, not a horror tale.
If you’re thinking of changing genres, do your homework. Best of luck to you!
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p.s. My latest book, Schnoztopia, releases on October 26, but you can get a FREE copy until October 1, at this link.