|It sounded like a great idea to |
go out of my world at the time....
Well, aside from the fact that people telling me what I can’t do is like nails on a chalkboard for me, I wilted at that advice because I have so many stories in me. So I glibly ignored it, and in the summer of 2014, I published the first two books in what was supposed to be a straight-out Science Fiction series. I went otherworldly, all right, straight onto the other world of a different planet. The premise of the series is that a group of colonists from Earth crash on a habitable moon, no one will ever be able to find them, and they have to start a new civilization from scratch.
Yeah. Not Historical Romance, which is what I am primarily known for. “But it’s sort of historical-y,” I argued. “The civilization they create ends up at about a medieval level. And there are romantic elements, so it counts, right? RIGHT?”
It turns out that the advice I was given was correct. More than a year later, I can count the number of copies of those books that I’ve sold on my fingers and toes with a few toes left over.
So why did this happen? I’m a pretty good writer. People buy my Historical Romance by the cartload. So why didn’t it work to jump so far outside of my genre and into another writing world?
It’s all about audience. Readers of Historical Romance are an entirely different demographic than readers of Science Fiction. I’m one of the cross-overs who likes both, but there aren’t very many of us. And of course I got frustrated and discouraged when this all went down and lamented that I should be able to reach Science Fiction readers too. I insisted that it shouldn’t matter that I used the same name, readers are readers, even if they know me in different lights.
|If I'd only used a pen name and |
written more in the series...
However, I think writing in vastly different genres CAN actually work…if you do it right. And by right, I would argue under different pen names. Many well-known authors have written very different genres under different pen names and been successful: J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Anne Rice/A.N. Roquelaure/Anne Rampling, and I’m sure you can think of a lot more. Writing under different pen names can give you just the sort of separation that you need to explore a different genre in depth.
That being said, the other mistake I made was not so much a mistake, but disregarding the realities of self-publishing. I only published two books in the series. One of the things I’ve seen time and again with people newly entering publishing as indie authors is that it takes around 7-10 books before you start to see real traction. The same thing goes for a different genre. If I had had a little more time and patience and was able to put out more books in that series, I might have seen it take off at a certain point. I still might write those books (I actually have 64k words of the third book in the series…but discovered that part of my central plot action is physically impossible, so back to the drawing board).
So go for broke and venture into another world with your writing if you feel the spirit move you. But be aware of the possible pitfalls you might face. Writing in a different genre is like starting over. If you have the mettle for it, then by all means, do it!
|Merry Farmer is a history nerd, a hopeless romantic, and an award-winning author of thirteen novels. She is passionate about blogging and knitting, and lives in suburban Philadelphia with her two cats, Butterfly and Torpedo. Connect with Merry at her Facebook Author Page and Twitter.|