Switching Genres – The Pros and Cons

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Sometimes the grass looks greener in another genre. Maybe it’s currently popular or it’s something you find yourself reading frequently. Maybe you just want to expand your creative horizons. Switching genres might be the boost of challenge and inspiration your writing career is calling for. So…should you switch genres? Here are the pros and cons as well as the considerations to weigh.

First, the Bad News

If you’re already a published author with an audience, you stand to lose that audience if you switch. People who read romance might also enjoy thrillers, but it’s not their go-to. You’ll need to attract a whole new readership, which means starting from scratch in a lot of ways. All of the branding, connections, and readers you’ve created might be lost. Also, you’ll have to teach yourself new tricks. Remember, you understand how to write successfully in your current genre, but you’ll need to learn how to do that in another. Need a refresher on building a successful author platform? Check out this article: Author Brand and Platform – Build Them Now!

Now the Good News

Switching genres is challenging, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. John Grisham is known for his legal thrillers, but he’s written other types of stories too. J.K. Rowling has famously switched from being the most popular and well-known writer of Middle Grade books to a successful adult fiction author. Yes, these are two of the most recognizable names in writing, but many writers make the switch. You’ll need to rebrand and potentially choose a pen name so your readers know what to expect, but it’s doable if it’s important to you.

Don’t forget that there’s basically no downside to switching if you’re unpublished. Yes, you’ll need to do your homework, but if you can’t get off the ground with one genre, why not try your hand at another?

The Key to Success in Other Genres

There’s one key to successful genre hopping, and it’s the same ingredient needed to become a successful author at all. That is voice. Once you have a distinctive storytelling voice that readers love, they will follow you into other creative projects. Speaking again of J.K. Rowling—she used a non de plume, Robert Galbraith, for her first adult book and wanted her true identity kept secret. She was outted by fans, however, who recognized her voice. You can’t hide great storytelling under a bushel.

Different Genres, Different Rules

In order to be successful in another genre, you’ve got to understand that genre. Readers have expectations that must be fulfilled (or subverted—but you gotta know them either way). You’ll need to understand the conventions of the genre in order to structure your book properly, and finally, you’ll need to read other authors who’ve nailed it. That reading is perhaps the most important way to teach yourself what works and what doesn’t. Why are you attracted to these books? What are they doing right? How can you do it yourself?

Just as our personal tastes change through time, so too might your writing interests. Don’t feel hamstrung by what you’ve done in the past. If you do your due diligence and let creativity be your guide, switching genres might be the boost of adrenaline your writing needs.

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About Author

Mary is a young adult writer and archaeologist. By day she teaches at a local college, and by night she writes about the adventures of adolescence.

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