Writing in Multiple Subgenres (RWA 2010 Blog Series)

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As I find myself pondering whether or not to write a YA urban fantasy that’s been kicking around in my head, I thought it might be helpful to go over some pros and cons on writing in multiple subgenres.  I picked these up from the “Writing in Multiple Subgenres” Workshop presented by Ann Aguirre, Cynthia Eden, Beth Kery, Elisabeth Naughton, Juliana Stone, and Beth Williamson during RWA’s 2010 convention.

  • Pros
  1. If you are easily bored, writing in different genres can keep you entertained and creatively fresh.
  2. If you are a fast writer, you can get more books published this way.  Oftentimes publishers aren’t eager to put out more than 2 or 3 books a year by the same author.  By writing in two different genres, you can double your output (and increase your income).
  3. Readers who love your work may follow you to another genre.
  • Cons
  1. Some readers will not follow you to the other genres, no matter what.
  2. If you have two pen names, you will need 2 websites and 2 sets of promotional materials (i.e. greater expense).
  3. You dilute your brand to some extent, because people may get confused as to what you represent.
  4. The possibility of becoming overcommitted.  If you have a full-time job or other commitments, you must be aware of publisher expectations.  Can you realistically meet the expectations of two different publishers?

So, do you write in multiple subgenres?  If so, why?  Do you find that it makes you a stronger writer?



16 thoughts on “Writing in Multiple Subgenres (RWA 2010 Blog Series)

    Terry Spear said:
    October 27, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Yes, yes, yes! I write in multiple subgenres. Why? Because I’m an eclectic reader and so read in multiple subgenres. And because of that, I think in multiple subgenres. Why shouldn’t I write in them too? One of my favorite writers is Jayne Castle/Krentz/Amanda Quick. All the same writer, all in different genres. I started reading her futuristic series, then her contemporary romantic suspense, ad then her historical romances!

    Does it matter if readers read every genre you put out? No. But do some love your voice enough to give your other stories a chance? Yes!

    It helps for me to write shorter (YAs) with a different focus and gives me a fresh start when I’m writing my longer adult novels. I write medieval Highland romances besides writing a contemporary werewolf romantic suspense, and paranormal young adults. I also have a vampire adult romantic suspense out. I love delving into the past. And I love time travels, the mix of historical with the present.

    Yes, I’m branded as a wolf author. But some also know me for my vampire stories since I was published in them first. And others as a Highland medieval author, and can’t wait for more of the historical romances. And some are waiting for more of my teen books.

    My biggest regret is that I used different pen names. I have a big teen following for my wolf series, so I should have just written my teen books under the name I use for my adult stories!

    Great article, Rosalie! If you have a story that begs to be written, you’ve got a great start! Go for it!

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      October 27, 2010 at 7:46 am

      Wow, Terry. Sounds like you are really busy. 🙂

      I’m glad you mentioned the pen names. That’s always a consideration for an author, especially if you write similar worlds in your teen and adult books. I can see why an author might choose a different pen name, especially if they write spicy adult stories. But I think if you make it clear that one is adult and one is YA, that should make the difference (Gena Showalter comes to mind; her adult novels are really spicy yet she stuck with her name for the YA).

      Thanks for weighing in on the reasons why one might choose to write in multiple subgenres. I can definitely see how this would keep an author creatively fresh. (And my YA story is begging to be told…)

    SaydeGrace said:
    October 27, 2010 at 9:07 am

    You know I love writing paranormal romance but unfortunetly editors and agents don’t like my paranormals. However I’ve had a good deal of success with erotic romance with cowboys 🙂 go figure.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      October 27, 2010 at 9:11 am

      You know, Sayde, one of the authors in this panel (I think it was Juliana Stone) made the same observation. She’s been trying without success to sell YA. She stressed that she doesn’t see her unsold manuscripts as failures, but as stepping stones toward her goal. I have to think that all unsold (or yet to be sold) manuscripts are like that for all of us :-).

    Sharon Hamilton said:
    October 27, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Very helpful post to one who is trying to decide…and on the fence about it. But I do write fast, so I think I’ll tackle it, after I finish some edits. I’m finding I shouldn’t write new things while I’m trying to deep edit or change a tone on an existing WIP. I’d be curious if any of the other authors have thoughts about that one.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      October 27, 2010 at 10:51 am

      Sharon, I think writing fast is a good reason to tackle more than one subgenre, especially if you have a lot of ideas floating around in your head.

      Good luck!

    Julia Rachel Barrett said:
    October 27, 2010 at 10:17 am

    I write in multiple genres, but then I’m not a branded author so I have more freedom. Most of the authors I know who write in multiple genres do so under different pen names. I’m easily bored, have ADD and a lot of ideas – from all genres – running through my head so I write the stories I want to write. Yes, some readers who like my romance-suspense don’t get the science fiction, but I just have to live with that. I attract another kind of reader with the science fiction and paranormal stuff.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      October 27, 2010 at 10:54 am

      Julia, the authors at the panel noted voice as a consideration in deciding whether or not to use pen names. If your worlds have a similar voice, then maybe it’s best to stick with one name. If not, perhaps different pen names are best. I found this to be an interesting consideration. After all, it’s all about reader expectations.

    Danielle Monsch said:
    October 27, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I always like to think of ‘old-skool’ Anne Rice when the talk of crossing genres comes up. Sure, she is most known for the vampires (and in her later career that is what she focused on) but in the beginning, it didn’t matter if she wrote about vampires, castrated opera singers, free blacks in New Orleans after the civil war, or an erotic retelling of Sleeping Beauty – I followed her. Her writing was amazing, and I just wanted to see how she would tell the story.

    With the rise of epubs, I think it will be easier for authors to write in multiple genres. Epubs don’t have the fear that NY has about letting their authors break outside genre constraints.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      October 27, 2010 at 11:00 am

      I agree, Danielle. E-pubs seem to free things up for authors. I think this will bleed over to NY publishing too. As an example, I know that Anya Bast publishes paranormal romance, but is also e-pubbed in erotic romance (a lot of menage, if I’m not mistaken). I found it interesting that her latest trade release is actually an erotic romance, a menage.

    Ciara Knight said:
    October 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I write all fantasy and paranormal stories but for all age groups. I find each age group to be a completely different writing experience.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      October 27, 2010 at 2:54 pm

      How do you do it, Ciara? 🙂

        Ciara Knight said:
        October 27, 2010 at 3:56 pm

        I have three boys. All different ages. Also, I worked with youth at risk for years. I love to read YA and share it with my boys.

    Julianne said:
    October 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I write cross-genres, and why? It’s organic for me, I guess. I tend to write mostly Fantasy/SF flavored stories (romance and non-romance) but I recently discovered a set of characters that didn’t want much to do with paranormal/fantasy elements, and to my surprise, they didn’t stop talking after the third chapter. 🙂 So, though I never intended to, I never say I won’t write in another genre, because you never know.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      October 27, 2010 at 6:48 pm

      That’s so true, Julianne. I remember thinking some time ago that I would never write YA. Why? Because my writing is chock full of expletives and lots of hot sex. 🙂 But lo and behold, now I’ve got this YA story kicking around my head, and my MC refuses to shut up. 🙂

    Amber LaShell said:
    August 2, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I was thinking of writing for both Contemporary Romance and Paranormal Romance, but wasn’t sure if I could, or if I needed to have a pen name for one of them. This article has helped a lot on that decision.

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