NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Friday, November 20, 2015

Confusing Times...

Traditional publishers and agents have been advising writers to specialize in one genre only for decades. Forever, really. The reasons are many, some maybe even valid:

1.    If publishers spend time and money marketing your science fiction book, they want to build on that, rather than start all over with your historical romance.
2.    You’ll confuse (and probably tick off) the reader who goes looking for your noir mystery only to find herself reading your latest slasher horror.
3.    You’ll spend longer trying to develop your writer “brand” if you split yourself among genres.

Indie publishing has placed all kinds of decisions in writers’ hands, including this one. Now that they don’t have to bow to a publisher’s will, they have to decide: Should they? Shouldn’t they?

As with any creative or business decision, you have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

For me, it boils down to the reason you write. Is it to make money? (A very valid reason.) Is it because you love writing so much you would do it whether or not it made money for you? (Also very valid.)

There’s another question you need to ask yourself: what’s the cost (creatively, emotionally, even physically) of NOT writing the story that’s in you to write?

I think you should write whatever damned book you want to write. While you owe your readers something, you also owe yourself. You have the right to challenge yourself, to experiment, to fill every little bit of your writer’s soul. After all, what’s the point of spending all that time and effort if you’re not having fun?

One caveat: Don’t mislead your reader. If you don’t use a pen name, be up front about your different genres (have different tabs on your web site for science fiction, romantic suspense, horror, etc.). Even an “open” pen name lets the reader know that these stories aren’t the same as the ones under your own name. Some readers will follow you across all your genres, while others will only read you in one genre. And that’s okay.

Remember: If you use a secret pen name, it can exacerbate the issue. You’ll be working to build two names (or three, or four), rather than just yours.

Here’s a mini-list of well-known writers who write in two or more genres:

Walter Mosley: Literary fiction, science fiction, political monographs, YA, mystery
Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb: Romance, romantic suspense, science fiction/police procedural
Joyce Carol Oates: Gothic, horror, suspense, mystery/crime, romance, historical, fantasy, realism, surrealism…
Ian Fleming: Spy novels (James Bond) and children’s (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)
Stephen King: What doesn’t he write?
Elmore Leonard: westerns, crime, suspense, screenplays
Nicola Griffith: science fiction, thrillers, historical
Kristine Kathryn Rusch: science fiction, romance, fantasy, mystery

Can you think of any others?

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9 comments:

Anne Marie Becker said...

Marcelle, this is something I've been thinking about a lot lately - whether to stick to romantic suspense or branch out into contemporary romance. There's been a contemporary story in me for about 6 years now, but I haven't had the time to develop it. I may have time in 2016, but then there's the question of whether to start a new pen name, build it up on social media. The thought is exhausting.

Anyway, you make great points, and I'll definitely be considering them. :)

Elise Warner said...

Loved the blog, Marcelle. To paraphrase: A writer's got to do what a writer's got to do.

jean harrington said...

Thanks, Marcelle, enjoyed your blog very much. My favorite line from it:
"I think you should write whatever damned book you want to write."
That deserves to be immortalized in needlepoint!

Marcelle Dubé said...

I hope you figure out what's the best road for you, Anne Marie. And I hope it includes a stop at contemporary...

Thanks, Elise!

Jean, I think it's going to be another saying for my bulletin board...

Rita said...

James Patterson writes YA. Supposedly he actually does write those books. I was told publishing contracts held authors to one book a year and no genre switching. But authors had to deal with all the people living in their heads and bills so they assumed other identities and went to other publishers. Of course that was before the internet.
Great post. Thanks.

Cathy Perkins said...

A friend of mine wrote Patterson's Maximum Ride series :)

Good points! I've wrestled (okay, not too hard since I jsut released it) with writing a light amateur sleuth after three darker, more police, multi-point of view ones. I think the things that make our voice - or our brand - will carry across genre or sub-genre. For me, it's always family. I suspect you know your "touch themes" as well - and those will follow your writing from RS/RM into contemporary. Enjoy writing it - and share with us when you're done!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Thanks, Rita.

I think you're right, Cathy. Our "voice" remains from story to story.

Lisa Q. Mathews said...

Great post! Think maybe readers are branching out more, too.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Lisa, I think so, too. It's so much easier now to try new genres, new authors -- even from other countries. Best time ever to be a reader... and a writer!

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