Genre Hopping: Do You Dare?

Genre Hopping ThumbnailIn general, people stick with the familiar. We like routines and predictability. A little excitement from time to time is a good thing, but too much change sends most of us running for the hills, right? What I’m wondering if the same is true in your reading or writing life? Are you a genre hopper?

Personally, I love to read almost everything and, most of all, I love to think about new ideas. Typically I’m drawn to Science Fiction and Fantasy, probably because (in my opinion) there is the greatest potential for new ideas within this genre, but honestly, if a story is good, I couldn’t care less about where it’s shelved in the bookstore.

As far as my writing goes, I do my best processing when I write out what I’m thinking. I write to express my own ideas, to tell my own stories, so I think it’s only natural that some would be fiction, others non-fiction, and for me a healthy dose of science fiction and fantasy because I like to write about possibilities. All of that is well and good, except that I’ve never thought about selling any of those stories before.

When branding, marketing, building an audience, and finding a publisher all come into play it’s much more difficult to be a genre hopper, or so I’m told. Readers have certain expectations, publishers have certain expectations, and too much change will send them running, right?

I don’t know.

If you take a look at what’s happening with music, a lot of artists are now considered “cross-over” musicians. With iTunes, listeners tend to choose individual songs over entire albums or specific artists. Also, musicians are able to reach a much larger audience when their songs are played on a variety of stations.

Could the same happen with books and authors?

I’m curious to know what you think, or what you’ve observed in the changing market.

As a reader, are you vehemently loyal to one genre? Are you irritated when your favorite author writes something outside his/her typical style? Or do you read everything and enjoy a change of pace?

How about as a writer? Do you tend to stay within one genre or do you like to branch out?

This entry was posted in News and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Genre Hopping: Do You Dare?

  1. ddfalvo says:

    I’m with you, Nicole. As a reader, if a story is good, I’ll even brave a war novel (and that’s not typically my first reach off the shelf). But as a writer, I would like to break those limitations the current pub world has in place.
    As long as the writing is consistent, why does the genre matter? Perhaps the older generation would like their authors kept in the box, b/c they like the familiar comfort of things staying the same, knowing what to expect–but the newer generations love to change things up. Maybe it depends on who we are writing for.

    For my part, my series is solid fantasy but I’ve also wrapped it around a very real modern culture that peeps will relate to (just like you did with Jahir’s culture–which was very familiar). My prequel will be Macabre/Horror when I have time to write it. Real life has all of these genres in it, so if, as a storyteller, we want to give our readers the full ride, then they have to be willing to stay in the wagon and hold on tight. Honestly? If we give them the experience they want–why wouldn’t they stay?

    • Nicole says:

      I completely agree, Denise! I also think that just as readers will connect with different stories or take different things away from a story based on what they’re going through personally, writers will have experiences and emotions that they’ll want to express in a variety of ways. One thing I’m afraid of is becoming a formulaic rather than a creative writer. You know, change the character names, put them in a different setting, keep the plot just to crank out more books. I don’t ever want to do that. I want to challenge myself and I think writing in a variety of genres will force me to keep learning and growing, even if I’m the only one who ever reads them!

  2. Donna says:

    It’s an interesting topic that I’ve recently been thinking about too, mostly because I was with a few friends who talked about their likes and dislikes in the book and TV/movie areas. I discovered that I’m a little odd (in that group/maybe my age group) as I like several different genres too-science fiction, fantasy, drama, mystery, young adult, historical, Christian non-fiction and some fiction to name a few. I guess I just enjoy good writing wherever I find it (not much patience for poor writing or weak plots though). Thanks for stirring my thoughts!

    • Nicole says:

      Yes, I think good writing and a great story are the keys! There are certainly people who cling tightly to certain genres, or even specific topics, but I think there might be more and more who are willing to experience something new. Glad to know I’m not alone. ;) Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Great, thought-provoking post.

    I don’t care for labels on principle. We (society) use them as a sort of division and I want to see all barriers broken down, in life and writing. I let it bother me and box me at first, particularly in writing my current book. Was there too much horror for a YA paranormal, were some parts too fantasitical? Was I writing a love story or a Gothic novel? It really hurt my writing. Then, there’s the fact that I write poetry. How would I make that fit into my career and marketability?

    My husband, bless him, told me to stop. I would never fit in a box, so be it. After several more months, I came to the same conclusion. (Can you imagine living with someone as stubborn as I am? LOL)

    I don’t know what this means for my career- I always saw myself in the traditional market, but for now, I’m just doing what I love- telling stories, creating, and keeping my ear to the ground. I do see big changes in the marketplace, and not just in the Indie market. And right now, there are some really amazing small publishers completely open to all kinds of creativity. It means more research, but I feel confident my work will find a home with readers. And that’s my end game- readership. It’s that easy- and that hard. It just takes a lot of work, but as writers, hard work and dedication is nothing new to us.

    I think there’s hope for us genre-hoppers yet.

    • Nicole says:

      I can completely relate, Tonia. When I first started my blog I had absolutely no idea what to do. I had (still have) poems, stories about our farm, recipes for my favorite foods, fantasy short stories, and my novel is science fiction. It was really…eclectic. :) But that’s real life, right! I love your point that all those divisions set up barriers. I can see why they started, if only to help out the librarians, but I think it’s starting to get a little carried away. I mean, YA dystopian paranormal romantic thrillers? Who knows what that means except authors and publishers? I thinks it’s fantastic that you’re following your creative instincts and writing what you love. Let’s break some barriers together!

  4. I’ve been hoping the market is getting more accepting of this type of thing and I think it is. I see more and more authors doing this. I, too, read many different genres and have story ideas within each! From a marketing standpoint, I think it could make it harder, but as others have said, readers will be ready in every genre for a great story.

    • Nicole says:

      I hope it’s changing too, Jamie, and I agree that readers seem to be more open than ever to great stories. Word of mouth takes on a whole new scope with social media so there’s no telling how far a story could go with a few loyal readers carrying it along. Marketing would be a bit tricky, or setting up sites that would appeal to all those different audiences, but it’s a challenge I’m willing to take on if the need ever arises!

  5. This really got me thinking. I definitely tend to stick to particular genres when reading and shy away from others. I wonder what I’ve been missing out on….thanks for the food for thought, Nicole!

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks for reading, Rashad. I’m glad it was thought-provoking. I have actually gone through phases over the years. I used to read all historical fiction and non-fiction, then all fiction, then all science fiction, so now I kind of like them all. I do tend to go with books that are recommended by someone I trust or that are popular unless I’m familiar with the author. I love that I can read samples now on the kindle, that has led me to try some books I’m sure I wouldn’t have otherwise. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to a genre though! You may not have as much trouble with your work “fitting in” or being more marketable that way also. Good luck with your travel e-books!!

I would love to hear from you!