There’s a bit of conventional wisdom I’ve ignored that may bite me.
Yesterday, one of my new short stories debuted, “Miles to Go Before I Sleep.” You can go read it for free. You’ll find it a quiet science fiction story. I’ve got a few of those out, like “The Singularity Loves You.” It’s not my most prolific genre, but it’s there.
I’ve got a fair chunk of fantasy. My novel, Keeper of Tales, might be the premier example of that.
So, what kind of author am I?
I’m a writer who pens stories that match what I read. And what I like reading is all sorts of stuff. Fantasy. Science fiction. Western. Private eye. Nautical. Those are probably my most-read genres, though I’ve started getting into horror comics as well.
I think I’m like most readers. I know very few people who read fantasy that loath other genres. It’s the same for science fiction. I certainly know people who choose to read just one genre, but I generally find them to be people who read either romance or “literature.”
And that’s my problem. I write multiple genres, just like I read multiple genres.
Now, why is that a problem?
Well, let’s say you read my debut novel. You say, “My, what a charming story. I shall consider reading another such tale of the highest caliber by this stunning author!” You enjoyed the high fantasy setting, the meta-references to stories being alive, and the complexity of the characters.
And then you find that my second novel is a modern popcorn slasher thriller. (My second novel is no such thing, but let’s pretend.)
That might put you off a bit. You wanted more of the same genre and got something totally different. And that might cost me a reader.
Now, my second novel (coming out December 1!) is a fantasy steampunk YA story. It’s not the exact same genre as Keeper of Tales, but it’s adjacent. It even deals with the nature of stories in a similar way! I hope anyone who reads one can also pick up and enjoy the other.
I think it’s easier to have a variety of genres in short stories, but… maybe I’m wrong?
But all this is likely to come to a head sooner rather than later. I’m currently working on a new series. (Don’t worry. The novel coming out in December is book one in a new series, The War of Leaves and Scales. Book two is already complete. That series will be completed, planned on one novel a year.) The new series is a fantasy aimed at young teens.
So, still fantasy, but a very different age demographic. (And for those of you who may be asking… no, I’m not going to give any details. Yet. But I may already have a cover that I’ll share as we get closer!)
So… am I shooting myself in the foot by spreading out the genres? Sure, again, it’s all fantasy, but they target very different age groups. If someone picks up that young teen series and then purchases Keeper of Tales, will I lose future sales? I think having covers that clearly convey the target audience will help. At least, I hope so!
Anyway. I’m playing with fire. I might get burned.
But… maybe not.
We’ll see as I go. But I hope you’re with me for the journey, either way!