Monday, February 21, 2011

Genre Surfing

Draft #7 is off to AA (cue party music and drop the confetti), and I'm about to dig into a brand new story.

Draft #7 is YA, and my new project is women's fiction. There is sometimes controversy surrounding writing in different genres:

1) If the first book you sell is a certain genre, can you then dive into another? Or, is that like being a debut author all over again?

2) How does your agent feel? Does he/she specialize in a particular genre? (In which case, is it kosher to have more than one agent?)*

3) Would your agent prefer you stick to "what works?"

4) If you write in different genres, do you use different pen names/pseudonyms?

5) Will your publisher expect you to pump out books in only one genre?

*If you don't have an agent yet and you write in more than one genre, this is an important topic to discuss when you receive an offer of representation.

These questions are vital, especially since, unless you're James Patterson with a staff of a gazillion writers, how many books can you write in a year?

So far, I've written nearly five full novels (I'm a little over halfway done with one of them.) Two are women's fiction, two fun murder mysteries, and one is YA. The YA novel is the one I hope AA will be shopping around soon.

As I said, I'm about to begin another book, a women's fiction story I scribbled out the first few pages to on my cruise last month. I'm looking forward to the change of pace and the ability to tackle "adult" topics. I've concentrated on nothing but my YA novel for nearly a year and a half, and as much as I ADORE this book (yes, I'm still madly in love with it!), my artistic muscles are aching to shift gears.

What about you? Do you write in different genres? If so, what have your experiences been? What are your thoughts on the subject?

19 comments:

Ruthanne said...

I do write in different genres, and they're vastly different, at that. I've considered another name, but what I finally decided was to listen to my agent's advice when I finally manage to snag one. I may not even end up with one who represents all my genres. Definitely a wee concern.

But I also know this; I have numerous stories in me. I'm not going to stifle or ignore any of them, regardless of convention, and if that means fake names, it means fake names. :)

LM Preston said...

When writers write separate genre it opens up the possibilities of having to query again for the new work of which your current agent doesn't sell. I tend to stick in MG/YA and scifi up until my current work which is paranormal. I do love authors that have the versatility to hop genres.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Ruthanne, Best to not stifle or ignore your stories. They will no doubt come back to haunt you. ;-))

Debra L. Schubert said...

LM, Good point. It's definitely easier to stick with one genre. It's just that the muse doesn't always allow that!

Sharla Scroggs said...

I've written two novels, one romantic womens fiction, and one paranormal women's fiction. The second one is what snagged me my own awesome agent and is now on submission. When I told her about the first one, she asked me what I enjoyed the most, will likely do the most....I had to go with the paranormal twist because I love that. So she said to keep going with that. I'm hoping maybe one day I can still throw it out there though...

Debra L. Schubert said...

Sharla, Congrats to you! I love Jessica. She'd requested partials on two of my projects before I signed with Bernadette. I wish you the best, and can't wait to hear how things go w/your book!

$andra Murphy said...

I'd love to say I was in that place where I have to make a decision, but unrepresented and while still working on several projects, it'll be what gets finished first that may influence where I eventually place myself.

It's definitely more of an issue if you are hoping for a traditional route to publishing a novel. I do think things are changing with YA. To the extent where the physicality of what a novel materializes as (either hard copy or digital)will either set it in one form or allow it fluidity. Have read heaps on how online works are constantly metamorphosizing and that this is part of the charm for YA readerships who are highly digitalized. They like to have a say and maybe even some input. Shakey ground for trying to make a profit for us as writers, however.

Great blog topic!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Sandra, Thanks for your comment. The book industry is going through upheaval and transformation. No matter what, I believe we writers need to write what we love. Being creative and self-expressed is one of the main reasons we're here. Love your life and express your passions!

Jemi Fraser said...

I love writing in different genres. Right now I'm working on an adult romantic suspense and a YA steampunk. And I've got an idea for a MG sci fi adventure floating around in my head!

Robin said...

Debra, I think that if a story is dying to make its way out of you, you have to write it. There are some stories that just must come out. Period. It will drive you insane to not write it. I would worry about what name to pen it under last. Everyone knows that Nora Roberts and JD Robb are the same person and they don't care. The thing is that when they buy a JD Robb book, they know they are getting an installment in the Eve/Roarke futuristic murder mystery series. And he is delicious. Reason enough right there to spend $6. That is at least three hours of drooling. Plus a cool murder and futuristic "toys." I've yammered enough, but I think you get my point. Anyway, so happy for you that the YA book is DONE!!!

Fragrant Liar said...

I've decided to use a pseudonym for my erotic urban fantasy series and my real name for just about everything else. Mostly, I'm following JD Robb/Nora Roberts and some advice I've heard over the years from different successful authors. Unless my as-yet-unprocured agent advises me otherwise, that's the plan.

Debra L. Schubert said...

FL, Sounds like a great plan - erotic urban fantasy sounds interesting. Best of luck on the agent search!

Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities said...

An interesting and tricky topic. I try not to think too much about genres, but I guess you really have to as a women's fiction story is fundamentally different than a mystery or a YA novel. For now, I am trying to focus on telling a good story within the genre into which I have plunged, but I do hope down the line to mix it up a bit. As always, a thoughtful and intriguing post which has me thinking...

Debra L. Schubert said...

Aidan, Love your comment. I never thought I'd write anything but women's fiction until this YA idea found me and wrestled my muse to the ground for the past year and a half. Now that I'm brushing myself off, I'm diving back into another women's fiction book. It feels good, especially after all I've been through this past year. Time to get some of what I've learned and suffered through onto the page!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I haven't done it yet, but if I do...I think I'll likely use a pen name. I don't want to confuse a reader who might buy a book with my name on it, expecting a mystery, and then be disappointed by discovering it's not.

Great post!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Elizabeth, Great point. The last thing we want to do is confuse our readers!

Dorte H said...

I do write in different crime genres (police procedural, amateur detective, cosy mystery), and speaking of cosy mysteries I found your blog because I was looking for writers of that genre. I can see you mention your agent, and now I wonder if she took you on because you wrote YA or if it was for the cosies.

You see, I have just begun to look for an agent for my own cosy manuscript, and I don´t want to spend days trying to ´trap´ someone who doesn´t really like that subgenre.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Dorte, That's why researching agents is vitally important. Here are a couple of websites I used in my agent search: agentquery.com and querytracker.net.

And, btw, my agent signed me for my YA novel. Best of luck!

Lemur said...

I've written a non-fiction book (metaphysics) and I won't be using that pen name for my novels, but I've been thinking on this question a lot.

I've got a YA paranormal almost finished, and a couple of romances plus a paranormal/horror in the works. I write the stories that come to me, and sorry, but they don't want to stick to one genre.

Think I'll be using the same name for all my fiction, and cross my fingers that the publishers will behave nice. If someone likes one of my books they still might like another, even if it has a different genre.

The CRITTER Project and Naked Without A Pen

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