I’d just finished reading a passage of my WIP to my writing group, and one member was like, “Wow, Dave, it’s amazing to see you write a book with no sex or swearing.”
And I was like, “Hell-o. My Fairy Dogmother.”
And then everyone in the group was like, “Oh, yeah.”
The experience illustrates a problem any writer who doesn’t stick strictly to one genre is likely to encounter. The previous four books I’d brought to my group were snarky novellas about a horny, potty-mouthed, screw-up witch. The WIP has all the snark, horniness and blue language of a Hallmark Christmas movie. But so did My Fairy Dogmother, which I wrote before The Incompetent Witch Series.
So what gives? Am I daring or just stupid? Is it wise to write spicy and sweet, Paranormal and Regency, Romantic Suspense and Romantic Fantasy?
Writing guru Kimberly Grabas says that exploring multiple genres “equals more work (and often) less income. It’s hard to build traction in one genre, let alone several. Switching or jumping genres leads to building multiple smaller audiences instead of steadily building a larger, more engaged fan base. Momentum is your friend, and sticking to one genre and writing books in a series (and releasing them back-to-back) is more lucrative, and builds a readership faster, than diversifying.”
New York Times Best-Selling Author Rebecca Zanetti kinda sorta disagrees, arguing that indie publishing has changed the game. “A few years ago, conventional wisdom dictated that an author should only write in one genre—at least until becoming well established. With the advent of ebooks, many authors have published across genres quite successfully. What’s fascinating is watching how readers committed to one genre will follow an author into another imaginary realm just because they enjoy that author’s work.”
The takeaway might be that writing in multiple genres could be either daring or dumb, but nobody knows until you do it.
My first series falls under the heading Contemporary Romance, the most popular genre when I wrote it. It’s set in Hollywood, so there’s plenty o’ carnality and cursing. The second series, listed as Humorous Supernatural Romance, was originally published in the Kindle Worlds program as a spinoff of books penned by a very successful Amazon author. The audience for those already existed, so I had expectations to meet.
Meanwhile, My Fairy Dogmother and my WIP are targeted toward much different readers and their expectations, and I intend to use both to test the trad publishing waters.
The marketing gurus—including Gabras, Zanetti and multi-platinum author HM Ward—say is that it’s not bad to write in different genres, but suggest a few things to keep in mind if you do.
In addition, keeping up on marketing trends can help. “Branding,” Grabas says, “isn’t nearly as corporate or commercial as it’s believed to be. It’s your style, your unique voice, and the combination of recurrent themes, character types, settings, and ideas that make up the familiar elements characteristic to your writing.” It includes things like your website colors, logo design and tagline and social media presence and the tone of your newsletter.
Zanetti notes that having the right cover design and book descriptions go a long way in telling readers what your books and series are about, lest they become confused and buy a book they’re likely to despise. On the other hand, Ward says that many readers might be willing to explore a genre they never considered just because they like you!
And then, there’s this: Tastes change. Contemporary Romance fell out of favor for a while, so it probably wouldn’t have been a great idea for me to keep flogging that horse. The supernatural Kindle Worlds books sold pretty well until Amazon killed the Kindle Worlds program—and I had a lot of fun writing them.
So, even if I’m being stupid, I have no regrets. And, who knows, maybe someday the discussion will be about genre-hoppers and niche-specialists, much in the way “outlining” and “pantsing” are now both recognized as legitimate approaches to writing a first draft. It may just come down to who you are and/or what you’re writing at the moment.
by: Dave Thome
Dave lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin, where he and his wife Mary Jo run a writing business. An automotive news writer by day, he’s penned several screenplays, including a few that came this close to being made into movies, and has indie-published several novels under the name DC Thome, including the Fast Lane Romance Series. He’s currently republishing The Incompetent Witch Series, which originally appeared as Kindle Worlds books
During the run of its 30th season premiere SEX WITH STRANGERS, Renaissance Theaterworks will shine a spotlight on Wisconsin authors. On Saturday, October 28th the company will host a Mini Book Fair in the Studio Theater lobby of the Broadway Theater Center from 3pm to 10pm featuring members of WisRWA. As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance asked them questions related to the various issues and conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason. Here is the fourth interview of the series.
DC (David) Thome lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He started writing as a newspaper reporter, then as a self-employed journalist and advertising writer. Now he writes feature stories and has a weekly column on automotive technology called “Gadgets & Gizmos” that runs in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
RTW: What attracts you most about writing romance novels or the romance genre in general?
DC: Women are more interesting to write about than men. Even books and screenplays I’ve written that are not romances tend to have female protagonists. I’ve fallen in love with four of my female leads, including the heroine of each Fast Lane book. I mean literally fallen in love. With fake people. That I made up. After I was done writing each book, I even went through the dopey, mopey withdrawal that comes after a relationship ends. By contrast, I never feel all that close to my male heroes.
RTW: Are you traditionally published or self-published? What do you think are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
DC: All of my novels are self-published, though The Incompetent Witch Series is part of the “Magic and Mayhem Kindle World” of best-selling author Robyn Peterman. She invited me to write novellas that use her books as a starting point and then Amazon publishes them. Experiences I had with Hollywood helped me decide to self-publish. I’d had two agents in L.A. and four of my scripts were optioned by production companies. But every time, the deal collapsed when one guy, the last stop on the way to a paycheck and a career knocked over the whole house of cards. No one can do that with my novels.
RTW: How heavily does “New York Times Best Seller” weigh in an author’s favor? Will that sell books?
DC: Stanford University’s Business School concluded that “the majority of book buyers seem to use the Times‘ list as a signal of what’s worth reading.” So even if it doesn’t make me a “legitimate author” in my own mind, it does in the minds of readers. And in that sense, it’s huge. It means you have a built-in audience interested in your next release.
WisRWA is teaming up with Renaissance Theaterworks in Milwaukee to host a mini book fair on October 28th in and around the performances of Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of Sex with Strangers.
From Renaissance Theaterworks website: “When frustrated forty-ish novelist, Olivia, meets fast-talking, twenty-something, blogger and memoirist, Ethan – known more for his sexual prowess than his prose – she worries that she will become just another chapter in his little black book. Their funny and passionate union blurs the lines between rewrites, romance and royalties – proving you can’t judge a book by its author. Sex with Strangers was one of America’s top ten most produced plays from 2014-2016. In addition to playwrighting, Laura Eason is also a producer/writer for the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series House of Cards.”
Eight WisRWA authors will take part in the signing, and we’ll have other WisRWA members on hand to answer any questions about WisRWA that we can. The authors participating are:
Starting tomorrow, each week, we will feature a Q&A with one of the authors.
Sex with Strangers runs October 20-November 12, 2017 but WisRWA will only be there on October 28th. Come support local theater and local authors! For more information, visit Renaissance Theaterworks.
Hope to see you there!
Each month, WisRWA will announce the new books our members have published. We call it New Release Tuesday.
Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases.
Glamour by Kayla Bain-Vrba
Angel Down by Lois Greiman
Demon Ember by M. J. Haag (with Becca Vincenza)
Captives of the Kratzen by S.C. Mitchell
The Incompetent Witch and the Missing Men by DC Thome
Home Field by Laurie Winter (DEBUT!!)