GENRE HOPPING - WHAT'S A WRITER TO DO?
A well known NYT bestseller spoke to our RWA chapter about what happened to her career when she switched genres. She had a well established brand writing historicals, which she did successfully for a lot of years. She wanted to expand, grow as a writer and try something new, so she wrote a few contemporary women's fiction novels. Her sales plummeted, and her fans went elsewhere for their historical fix. She says now that if she had it to do over, she'd have published the contemporaries under a different name. Hmmm.
Then there are authors like Christina Dodd, who successfully hops from historical, to romantic suspense, then paranormal, and everything sells. There are well known authors who write different genres under different names. Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick and Jane Castle) come to mind, so does Nora Roberts. But, hey, we all know who they are no matter what name they use, right?
I don't know about you, but I don't read just one genre. I also want to write more than one. I have ideas for historicals, contemporaries, westerns, and yes, more paranormals. What's a writer to do? Why can one author, like Christina Dodd or Julie Garwood, be successful with the jump, while genre hopping puts other's careers in a slump? I know Susan Elizabeth Phillips had to reinvent herself after a few of her books didn't sell well, but she kept her name the same throughout. Yikes! What's a writer to do?
Should a writer create a different brand for each genre? Is it better to write under different names, or is it better to stick to one name fits all? I don't want to be limited, so can a brand be all encompassing? I spend hours coming up with pseudonyms for my contemporaries, historicals and westerns. What if I'm at a book signing, and I forget who I am at the moment? (Sadly, it could happen.)
Then there's this tiny little ego thing inside me whispering, "Hey, I want credit for all of my books! Why would I change my name to one nobody knows is me?" Yeah, yeah, it's a business, but still, my blood sweat and tears went into creating the characters and their story. It takes a bit of ego to put your work out there, right?
Do you genre jump? Do you use the one-name-fits-all approach, or do you feel it's better to suit-up under a different nom de plume for each? Enquiring minds want to know . . .
-Barbara Longley, aka Kailyn Reilly, aka Noell LaPrairie, aka Bunny Hopsalot.