I never realised it was possible to write in different genres. I always thought you had to choose one genre, and that was it. You were in it for LIFE. There would be no returns, no reruns, no back-tracking of any kind. If you happened to choose Vampire Romance as your brand, well… you better remain in that box or else.
I think this system of ‘author branding’ was created thanks to the publishing market. It makes sense to stick to a certain genre if that’s what your readers come to love and expect from you. Branching off into a different genre usually requires a pen name, and that means you pretty much have to start at square one.
But what if you really, really want to write both crime and romance novels? What if you also enjoy dabbling in YA fantasy?
I love that J.K. Rowling decided to submit her manuscripts for ‘Robert Galbraith’ anonymously. I had a bit of a laugh reading J.K Rowling’s tweet about the rejection letters she received:
Those editors would have been cursing themselves for their tragic mistake.
J.K. said she felt compelled to share the rejections letters to give inspiration to other writers. It doesn’t matter if your novel is brilliant, the publishing industry will most likely ignore it unless you’re a) famous or b) lucky.
If J.K. had submitted her novel using her own name, it’s most likely she would have been picked up by the first editor she tried.
Luckily, you don’t have to be J.K. Rowling to write in multiple genres these days. Thanks to self-publishing, the rules are changing. And thank God for that. But no realy, so a prayer.
The reason I’m blogging about this topic is because I love writing in multiple genres, including magical realism, speculative, sci fi & fantasy, chook lit, women’s fiction, paranormal, historical romance, (actually, romance in any genre) and psychological thrillers.
I didn’t realise I wrote in that many genres…
While querying my novels (paranormal romance & psychological thriller), I quickly realised the number of agents looking for writers like me were pretty rare. But they are out there. Think of Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger Inc. She has an eclectic wish list and she specialises in representing multi-genre writers.
In an interview with Writer’s Digest, she explained that:
My list is diverse because I love the variety. Each project comes with its own unique challenges and joys. I also believe it’s beneficial for my clients because (a) my authors’ books do not cannibalize each other (so to speak!), and, (b) if a client wishes to explore another genre—(e.g., a young adult author wants to write fiction, or a how-to author wants to explore memoir), I am in a position to help guide them. However, this isn’t the best course for every agent. I was extremely lucky early on in my career in that the agencies I worked at—Don Maass Agency and Vigliano Associates—specialized in very diverse genres. As a result, I gained a lot of experience working with different types of projects, and I made contacts with editors from every subset of the industry.
So we can see they do exist, but they may as well be unicorns.
Which is where self-publishing comes into play.
Indie authors can publish what they want when they want. They can create a series of paranormal romance novels and a series of psychological thrillers if they wish (yep, referring to myself here hahah). There really is nothing to stop them.
Many of these writers don’t even use a pen name to distinguish between their different genres, which is pretty brave in my opinion. It is sometimes a little jarring to see a romance novel listed underneath a thriller on an author’s page – but you know what? I think it’s a great idea.
Do what you love, so they say.