RWA National: Multiplicity Rocks

Authors Zoe Archer, Shoshanna Evers, and Linda O. Johnston and agent Paige Wheeler of Creative Media Agency gave an overview of writing concurrently in multiple genres or sub genres. The changing publishing industry certainly gives authors opportunities to write a variety of stories for any number of outlets. However, there are both advantages and disadvantages to creating a mixed portfolio of work.

Writing in multiple genres can be beneficial if you are not yet published and you are searching for your genre “home.” You can explore different types of stories to find a strong match between your interests and your voice. Expanding into a second or even more genres can serve as a “palate cleanser” if you feel you’re getting stale with your current genre or you wish to enlarge your readership. It will also modify your relationship with your publisher. In order to do this, you need to be a nimble writer who can switch genres easily.

Before adding a new genre, consider whether you can fit it in with your current schedule. If you’re agented, be sure to discuss your plans with your agent. She can help you think strategically about how and when to make the move. You’ll need to consider whether you should adopt a pseudonym, especially if your new genre differs wildly from your established works. You might need to duplicate your social media efforts as well, which could mean an additional website with a completely new design.

Consider the disadvantages as well. Wheeler mentioned that if you are a new author, it’s best to present a prospective agent with the persona and genre you can sustain for at least 3-5 works in order to provide stability for your launch as an author. Having tons of ideas is great, but if you start off fragmented among several genres, it may make it harder for an agent to identify the right entry position for your new career. Established authors have different problems to consider. Readers who have enjoyed one type of book from you may not be willing to follow you to something else (as Shoshanna pointed out, it would be hard for readers who enjoy her BDSM books to make a leap to sweet inspirational, if she decided she wanted to try that market). If you have a strong voice in your current market, both readers and publishers could pigeonhole you there, necessitating that you adopt a pseudonym and all the change that comes with it if you want to make the switch.

It’s easier to bring along readers to something different if there’s a core that remains true for all your books. Zoe mentioned that all her different styles of books feature adventurous heroines, so that commonality helps readers try new works from her a bit more easily. Linda’s books all contain mystery, whether it’s presented with military shape shifters or in a cozy featuring pets. Those underlying themes help readers go with you when you choose a new path.

Overall, writing for multiple genres is certainly a way to keep things interesting for yourself and your readers. Plan well before you jump, and always keep your agent in the loop.

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