Good morning, everyone! Welcome back to Writer Wednesday. Today I want to talk a little bit about cross genre writing since everyone seems to be dipping into different markets.
But there are a couple things I've been discussing with authors lately that have opened my eyes to a few hurdles that aren't always anticipated. And if you're able to make a plan for those hurdles you're far more apt to succeed than if you suddenly find yourself facing them unprepared.
Be sure you've done some research in the new market you're looking at. One of the biggest things I see as an editor is a writer switching into a genre that is completely unrelated to what they've been writing, and their voice won't fit. For instance: You can't very well write a thriller with a chick-lit voice. Or at least it wouldn't be very easy to do so. That would be some serious craftiness on an author's part! It's very easy to shift within the same core genre: historical romance to paranormal romance, for instance. It's not so easy to shift without a little extra leg work into something that is a 180 from what you've already learned, even though the core aspects of basic craft are pretty much the same.
So study the field you want to be in and train your voice into that established expectation. Sure, it's good to keep some of what makes you you, but keep your tone in line with what the genre expects. Readers have expectations, and if you fall short, that makes the next book that much harder to sell.
Another very common and often overlooked hurdle is your readership. Do not assume that because you have very strong sales as a fantasy author, that when you release a mystery your readers will follow you because they are devoted to you. The sad fact is most readers are devoted to the story(ies) you've written and will continue to gobble you up in your established genre. You can bank on losing about 50% of your readership, which means you'll need to make that up with more readers. The more you divide yourself between genres, that's fewer and fewer carry-over readers.
Which directly translates to:
If you're launching a new genre, you need to approach that first book like you approached your very first book published. You need to have a plan, you need to connect with that new readership, you need to sell yourself all over again. Then you may see more cross-over readers, but not likely on the initial out of the gates, unless you are already a NY Times or USA Today Bestseller--routinely. At that point, even then, your readership is going to drop, but in those sales numbers, it isn't as obvious or impacting--usually.
Once you've stuck your foot in the new pond and wow'd the spectators with your swan-like swimming ability, you have to keep coming back to swim in that pool. Meanwhile, you're swimming in the pool across town. You're bound to encounter the problem of needing to be in two places at once. Either because your self-publishing schedule demands releases hit close together, or because your publisher has said you will have x book done by y date, and y date is the same date as your other publisher wants something else.
Think this through. Particularly if you are in any position to discuss projected deadlines with an editor. Have a game plan for how you intend to be in two pools at once, and keep in mind many publishers will include in their contracts that you can't release a competing work for thirty days either side of what they are putting out.
Be prepared ahead of time; have an emergency action plan. And, even better, use your free time to get ahead of your deadlines as opposed to perhaps running off on a brand new idea. Get the idea down so you don't forget it, then finish up what you've already planned so deadline crunch doesn't end up kicking you in the rear. In short, know what you are capable of and be honest with that self evaluation.
Pen Names - Do I have to have a New One?
Claire is saving that discussion for the next blog post.
Sum it Up:
1. Make sure your voice matches your new project appropriately.
2. Readers dictate a book's expectations. Insure your new endeavor meets and exceeds those expected elements.
3. You can't count on the same numbers you're currently bringing in, and often, when launching into a new genre, you will lose readers. Create a marketing plan that is specific to your new genre.
4. Be prepared. Don't let deadlines take you by surprise--plan for them and give plenty of room to adjust.
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