Authors as Omnivores – Writing in Multiple Genres

When it comes to author branding, it makes sense to be clear and consistent. Although as Indie E-published authors we are able to push the envelope on boundary labels, the truth is, genre categories still rule. It’s much easier for a reader to risk trying an author’s work if it sits comfortably within the boundaries of a genre they normally read.

Trouble is, I’ve always been an omnivore. No, I’m not talking about how I eat. I’m referring to my habits in reading and writing. When I finish one kind of book, I usually crave a different flavor for the next.

And as to writing? Well, I’ve got manuscripts waiting to be revised and polished in enough genres and sub-genres to make me feel like I’m lost in a sandstorm of stories.

I find changing mood, style and story world gives me a creative boost.  But when it comes to the publishing side, I’ve got questions. Questions that put me in a state of continuous detour.

So let me ask this wonderful community of authors some of them.

Do you read in more than one genre?

Do you write in more than one genre?

Do your readers follow you from one genre to another?

As a reader, do you mind an author who does this?

Would you make a new website for a genre that has a different feel than your current one? Or change your pen name?

Do you need to find new cyber-territories and put in twice as much networking time?

Let me hear from you.

The best of WG2E omnivorous writing wishes to you — Alicia

Alicia Street is the author of Kiss Me, DancerTouch Me and TangoSnow DanceStars Love and PirouettesDance ‘n’ Luv Boxed Set , and Aphrodisiac. Alicia is proud to be a part of the WG2E family. Connect with Alicia at her  website and on Facebook.

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Comments

  1. Sibel Hodge says:

    Yep, I’m totally with you on this one, Alicia, and I’ve written in multiple genres of fiction and non fiction. I have eclectic reading tastes so why not have eclectic writing tastes, too? I think we have so many different aspects to our personalities that genre hopping is a great way to utilize them. :)

  2. I read multiple genres, but so far, the closest I’ve come to writing in them is that my first book, “Tempting Jonah” was more “serious,” and now I write romantic comedies. I tried to write a mystery series, but never got very far with it, so I wrote about a character who was an author and wrote the series.

  3. Liz Matis says:

    Hi Alicia: I do read in different genres. After I write Kiss Shot (summer release I hope) I plan to write a women/inspirational per even contraverisal fiction novel that has been brewing inside me. It will be VERY different from my sexy, hot comtemporaries so I will be a struggle to decide whether to publish under a pen name. But I’ll worry about that when its actually done.

    • Yep, those are the scary ones, Liz — when you veer way off your normal path. Not that I’m so sure what ‘normal’ is for me. :) Good luck with the new book.

  4. Julie Day says:

    I agree that writing in different genres can keep up your creativity. You can’t get stale if you do that, which is why I like writing for both children and adults. At the moment, I am working on an adult short romance story and a book for children of 7-9 year-olds. Both have the magical element to it, so a bit similar. I read in different genres too. I read both children’s and adults books. I read category romantic suspense, contemporary romances and children’s in turn. A bit like writing it, you don’t get bored with just one thing.

  5. If I enjoy an author’s style, I’ll follow him across genres. I’ve done this with Orson Scott Card, Raymond Feist, and a couple others. I’ve written a couple of stories in genres I’ve never touched before just to try it out, and found it a fun and refreshing exercise, but I haven’t how or if I’m going to market them yet. I’d probably use a pen name for something dramatically different than my usual stock, and if not a whole new website, at least a different page on my existing site.

    • Hey, Greg! Yes, I’m thinking of a new website for the YA paranormal I’m working on, possibly with a link to/from my adult stuff. I already published a short story prequel in an anthology under my name so I will need to keep that.

      But for work that is way different, yeah a new name might be needed. How about Cari Gregory for that sexy romance novel you keep threatening to write?

  6. I’m definitely an omnivore too! Although I’m not sure yet about the publishing side, I’m getting ready to test it (and see if readers will carry over or if it will be starting over again). I’m not going to take a penname – if I was going from writing middle grade to erotica, then maybe I would consider it, but my swings are from futuristic YA/SF to adult SF to steampunk. These are all related enough to fall comfortably under “speculative fiction” and I imagine fans COULD like all of them (I like all of them, after all! :) ).

    • Great to know you’re a fellow omnivore, Susan! Yes, I think it definitely depends on which genre. I love SF/Fantasy/Steampunk, too, and don’t see a much difference between YA and adult work in that genre. Good luck with your new series!

  7. Although I primarily read (and write) cozy or traditional mystery, I also read the occasional romance, science fiction, or fantasy book. There is a time-travel romance my muse keeps nudging me to write and I’d like to try that later this year. One thing that’s holding me back is going back in time is writing a historical, which requires a lot of research.

    Like Gregory, I’d probably use a pen name for a genre significantly different than my usual. With the Internet, a different pen name doesn’t mean you’ll keep your identity secret, but I think it’s important from a branding point of view. It’s a way for readers to differentiate which kind of book to expect. Since I have no intention on hiding the fact that the two authors are really just one, I’d also keep the separation to a different page on the same web site.

    • Yes, I’ve thought about that, Elise. Like Lisa Mondello and Theresa Ragan, who both change their first names to initials for their suspense novels.

      On our website my DH and I have a separate page for our contemporary romance series and our comic mystery series. In my mind this can work because the mystery series is a chick lit style romance as well.

  8. Riley J.Ford says:

    Yes, I love reading and writing in a variety of genres. I think my romantic comedies, humorous mysteries, and children’s books can happily coexist under my name, but for the erotic romance series I plan to write, I’ll probably use a pseudonym (although I do hate to give up all the hard work I’ve done to build my name and brand, just to re-build it under another name!).

  9. CC MacKenzie says:

    I read anything that’s well written. From political thrillers to chick-lit to paranormal etc. And I write contemporary romance and paranormal romance. I find being able to jump from one genre to the other keeps me ‘fresh’ and my readers are following me, which is always nice.

    Great post, Alicia!

    • Hello, dear one! Yes, I’m an ‘anything well written’ reader, too. Although, too much gore or gratuitous violence will make me quit reading. Good to hear your readers are sticking with you in the cross-overs.

  10. I’m an omnivore when it comes to reading – and writing. I enjoy reading a light romcom as much as a white-knuckle thriller, as much as a hard-facts non-fiction, as much as a sweeping drama. While I’ve not written a thriller, never say never. I’m writing romcom now, wrote (and published) a YA/alternate history, and I’ve got a non-fiction in the works. Keeps my brain entertained. :-)

    • Yep, Ellen, I sometimes crave non-fiction, too, having a degree in philosophy. And of course research is also a great way to satisfy that. Nice to meet you, fellow omnivore! :)

  11. I’ve always been a reader of literary fiction and I also love mysteries. Then chick lit came along and I adored those funny books about women that allow me to laugh at myself. For a long time I’d been writing literary fiction, then I wrote a humorous mystery. But I didn’t really have success until I combined all of them into rom-com mysteries with literary themes. I call it “Janet Evanovich for English majors.” I guess I’ve just made up my own genre. :-)

  12. Hope Barrett says:

    I think I am a carnivore, Alicia, and that would mean — I would like to write a good murder; however, it is a painful and slow process and I would probably choose a different name. Currently have been in humour-impossible-to-categorize genre, one biography (Discovering Oscar) and late last year completed a first in what will be a series for ‘children’, which was a fun break. Having different genres is great for the creative process and so far the readers seem to be following, but I suspect that the big money is still in romance… — series — if only I could wrap my keyboards around it.

    Thanks for starting an interesting topic.

  13. Tamara Ward says:

    Thanks for the fabulous post, Alicia, which is leading to a great discussion! I’m a reading omnivore… but like Hope above, I’m writing mysteries. Although… the first line of a novel that’s not necessarily a mystery is haunting me nights. But so far it’s only the first line and not the plot… so I’m unsure if it’s another mystery or something else entirely!

  14. SK Holmesley says:

    I read both fiction and non-fiction and many genres in both. With fiction, particularly, I tend to follow authors I like. For instance, I was hooked on Dorothy Dunnett because of her historical fiction, but found and also read and enjoyed her “Dolly” mysteries series. So do tend to at least try any genre an author that I like moves into, and don’t hold it against them if I don’t like their vision in the one genre more than the other–although I don’t tend to get any future books in a particular author/genre if I don’t enjoy the first one that I read, but do continue to read the author in the genres I feel they are strongest in. Too many books, too little time, and a lot of what I HAVE to read is technical manuals, and since fiction reading is all subjective, I don’t worry if I don’t like everything an author writes or even if I just don’t particularly like a genre. I tend to skip horror, because I don’t get much sleep as it is, and don’t need nightmares keeping me awake when I do get to sleep. Otherwise, I’ll give most things a try.

    So writing, I’m the same way, and with the exception of Regencies that have very well defined rules on the locale and time which kind of rules out alien invasion (although now that I’ve thought about it…) :-) I tend to write stories with a little of this and a little of that and don’t really stick to a well defined genre.

    • That’s very fair, SK, to not blame an author if your don’t like their second genre. I have an author whose paranormals I will always read, but I don’t like her contemporaries.

  15. I write both non-fiction legal self-help/other self-help manuals, and then I write epic fantasy with a sci-fi/romance twist. I publish the non-fiction under my real name, the fiction under my pen name. I suppose if I were to deviate drastically fiction-wise from what I already write (for example, if I were to dabble in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle/Agatha Christy type classic murder mysteries) I might add another pen name, but then again, maybe not. I think my pen-name as an ancient Mesopotamian goddess of the underworld already signifies somebody who dabbles in all the muck :-)

    • Cool double life, Anna! And I love your pen name. Two of the manuscripts I’ve got waiting for my attention feature Mesopotamian mythology. Reading about ancient cultures is definitely high on my list.

  16. G. A. Donaldson says:

    Hi Alicia! I have been thinking hard about this very subject before this article came along. I have 4 ebooks which are literary fiction, humour, and one horror story. I’m working on a novel (humorous mystery), two novella’s (futuristic fantasy), and a humorous take on the breakup of a marriage. Most of my literary fiction is rather dark in subject matter and sometimes humorous, and I plan to use that style in fantasy novels and mystery. When it comes to ideas I’m always thinking fantasy apart from the real fiction ideas. I plan to write under my own name except for my erotic stories. So I’m working in the genre’s of futuristic fantasy, humorous mystery, literary humour, erotic, and real fiction short stories. And also some non-fiction.