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Can't Stop The Hop: Why Genre Hopping Is Good For Authors

posted by Lucy V Morgan on ,


My name is Lucy, and I'm a genre-hopping addict.

There's a lot of pressure these days to stick to one little bracket of fiction. Your readers need to know what to expect, after all. It's all about building up a brand name. There's also a fair amount of pressure (especially in e-publishing) to publish a lot of work in a short space of time.

If I had to write in the same little genre for three or four titles in a row, I'd feel very trapped. I suspect I'd also end up doing what a lot of authors do: I'd write the same frickin' book, three times over. There are authors who manage to churn out fresh narrative after fresh narrative in the same area of fiction, and I have a lot of respect for them. They're brave and clever. But equally, some of my favourite authors have disappointed me more than once by selling me the same book in new packaging. Same conflict, same characters, same twists...when you get burned out or uninspired, it's all too easy for this to happen (and you just have to hope your editor is sharp enough to say, "why have you delivered this steaming heap?").

So...I genre-hop. It's like a palette cleanser. I have four confirmed releases this year: two are light-hearted romantic chick lit style books, and two are dark erotica. My current work in progress is science fiction; then I hope to move on to a thriller, then more erotica and more sci fi. (I don't expect to publish it all under the same name for marketing reasons, but it's still me that writes them).

I'm an eclectic reader. I love everything from thrillers to lit fic to filth. I'm lucky in that I have a lot of time to write, so there's a little flexibility in terms of getting things out there at a decent rate (though I'm hardly a fast writer). I currently publish with a small press, and self-publish; I guess I'm lucky there too in that I have a lot of freedom. If I were to land a bigger three-book contract, I'd probably need to stick with those three same-genre books and concentrate on just making them awesome. My next three books would probably be quite different, though. If I could pump out a novel a year in two different names/genres, I think that would be my ideal.

I used to worry about my genre-hopping. I thought it was a flaw; I could never label my books. Now I've realised instead of cramming about four genres into one novel, I need to write those separate novels, and so long as they're good, that's okay. I also used to worry that readers wouldn't know what to expect, but since the books will appear in different categories with descriptive blurbs, I suspect that's a rather patronising assumption. I've made peace with my genre-amorous self, and it's a nice place to be.

Some writers only feel competent or content in one genre. That's okay (and hell, some of them have no reason to switch). But more people--curious people-- should genre-hop, time and space permitting. Come on. You know you want to...


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