When it comes to successful book publishing, one thing that you need to decide is what genre your book falls under. This is something that you have to select when publishing on Amazon and getting this wrong could mislead readers and mean your book is not found by those who could be truly interested in it.
Which genre? can be one of the hardest questions for authors to answer. Unless it’s a die-hard romance or a hard-boiled detective story, it can be challenging for any writer to want to ‘pigeon-hole’ their work in such a way. Many stories have lots of different elements, after all. Yours may be set in a fantasy world, but is predominantly about two characters falling in love, does that make it fantasy or romance? Who knows?
Of course, many authors prefer to write across multiple genres, giving themselves more leeway for creativity and not to have to follow any set of genre-specific rules.
The trouble with that, however, is that it could make your novel less appealing to agents and publishers if you are trying to land a traditional deal, and could exclude readers if you decide to self-publish. It is harder to find an audience who loves explicitly cross-genre fiction. If you write very obviously and specifically for lovers of crime and thriller novels, the market is already there. However, if you are trying to find lovers of crime and thriller novels with a sci-fi twist – the numbers deplete significantl. This, unfortunately, could make your novel seem far less appealing.
There is, of course, plenty of scope for self-published authors to select several genres for their novel to sit under. A self-published author can write about whatever they want, after all. However, it does mean that they might have more work cut out for them when it comes to finding a readership.
Self-publishing allows any author to have a platform from which they can offer their work to the public. It does not, however, mean that you will find readers who want to read it. It is only by consistency and efficiently finding a path to readers who are likely to enjoy your work that you will keep sales figures high and reap the rewards of all your hard work.
Writing across multiple genres affects your author brand. If you are trying to market yourself as an author, remaining within the boundaries of one genre makes this process far more manageable, and the path much clearer in terms of the action you need to take to build a readership. The best authors are those who consistently deliver novels that their readers want to read and become known as the best writer within a specific genre. It can be as specialist or as niche as you like, but this is the way to achieve real success.
However, many writers feel that sticking to only one category can restrict creativity. The notion of having to promote their work to just one, already well-established audience is not so appealing. It’s true that every writer has a unique voice, their own style, and individual characteristics that only they display through their work. It is still possible to be unique and fresh and exciting while working within the confines of a single genre.
It’s important to note, however, that authors who can find themselves with a large, devoted fanbase are the ones who are then able to go on an entirely new tangent and take those readers with them. It’s about trust as much as it is about delivering what readers what to read and fulfilling expectations. However, most writers find themselves struggling to find readers who’ll sway from their tried and tested authors in one genre, let alone across many. If you do find yourself in the position where you have readers, do you want to risk losing them by writing across multiple genres?
Of course, one of the most beautiful parts of being a writer is the ability to express yourself creatively and freely. So it’s really up to the individual how comfortable they feel confining themselves to a specific genre and how willing they are to test and bend the rules of that genre to fit their creative vision. There are exceptions to every rule, and authors who break the mold and create genre-less, non-specific or multi-genre works that are massively successful. But the truth is, it does make life harder, and without a significant publisher backing you, you may find it tough to reach readers and sell your work.
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