One of the basic rules for new authors is to stick to your genre.
That’s good advice. When we’re just breaking into publishing there is very little that is more important than building a relationship of trust between you and your readers. Establishing your “brand” and sticking to it is key to acquiring a loyal readership.
As we publish more stories, we can start broadening our brand. Many authors are able to wiggle to the right a bit or wiggle to the left and publish books that are almost like the stories their readers expect. They’re staying true to their brand, though. A Ruthy book is still a Ruthy book. A Mary Connealy book is still a Mary Connealy book. Erica’s new regency romance series is still all Erica.
We love that, don’t we? We know what to expect from our favorite authors. It’s like going to our stand-by restaurant and ordering something we’ve never tried before. We can do that because we trust the source. We’re pretty sure we’ll enjoy something new from them.
But what if an author wants to completely change genres?
Let’s explore this a bit.
All but two of the twelve books (soon to be thirteen) that I’ve published have been in the genre niche of Amish Historical Romance.
One of the two exceptions was “A Home for His Family,” but it didn’t wiggle too far away from my original niche – it was still Historical Romance. I call that a one-degree difference.
|This book is available here!|
In the novella that was published in a collection by Bethany House in 2019, “An Amish Christmas Recipe Box,” I went one degree in a different direction, to Contemporary Amish Romance.
|This story is available here!|
My readers followed me to those side-steps, but Amish story fans are a little different than other fans in that their loyalty tends to follow the genre rather than the author. So if I try to go very far afield, I risk losing them.
For example, what if I tried a story with a two-degree difference? Instead of Amish Historical Romance, I wrote Contemporary Western Romance? Do you see the two degrees?
If I did that, I would need to market my new story heavily because I’m not sure all my readers would follow me. Some would. After all, I would still be writing for the Christian market, and I would still be writing Romance.
But what if I took a completely different track?
Right now, I’m working on a Cozy Mystery aimed at the secular market.
What??? No Amish! No Romance! No Historical!
Doing something like that takes a LOT of deep thought and planning, and even more prayer.
I had to ask myself a big question: How committed am I to this change?
When the idea first hit me a couple years ago, it sounded like fun. I’m a true Agatha Christie fan, both in print and on video. Some of my favorite authors are Dorothy Sayers and Arthur Conan Doyle. My favorite television shows include Murdoch Mysteries, Monk, and Midsomer Murders. I love picking up a new cozy mystery and curling up with it for an evening or two. Maybe I could try writing one!
That fun idea turned into an obsession. I’ve researched how to write mysteries, and cozies in particular. I’ve read every new title I could get my hands on. I even started planning my own cozy mystery series.
That’s when I knew I was hooked. Somehow, some-when, I would write this story.
But was I committed to starting my career over from scratch? That’s a scary proposition.
Then I realized I wasn’t going to start MY career over. Jan Drexler would still write Amish Romances. Someone else was going to be the cozy mystery writer…I would need to adopt a pen name for this new genre.
Do you see how I skirted the problem of trying to take my readers with me from one genre to the next? My Amish romance readers will still be happy with my installments of Amish stories, either contemporary or historical. (I love those readers and don’t want to risk losing them!)
And this other person – I haven’t settled on a pen name yet – will be my alter-ego, happily murdering people in light-hearted stories.
By the way, that is the very weird thing about cozy mysteries – they are light-hearted stories with murder on the side.
So, how do I market this new author?
First, I need a pen name (still in progress.)
Then a new website, Facebook page, Goodreads page, Amazon page, Bookbub… you’ve got it. All the marketing tools need to be re-done for this new author name.
Finally, a new marketing strategy. Breaking into the secular market is different than the homey world of Inspirational publishing I’ve enjoyed for the past nine years. I’ll have to learn the ropes in this sometimes cold, sometimes friendly world of secular publishing.
But before all that can even start, I must finish writing the first book.
And no, I’m not going to tell you who-done-it.
So, I have to ask myself the big question again – how committed am I to taking on a new genre?
I knew I was going to follow the first story to the end when a plotting tangle kept me awake one night.
I was even more convinced I was sticking with it when I started writing the story and realized I was hiding details from my sleuth that I already knew – like the murderer’s name, method, and motivation – and thinking she would never guess.
When the setting and side characters became real in my mind, I knew I was ready.
Yes, I’m committed to giving this a try.
What about you? Have you ever changed genres, or thought about it?
Or if you are pre-published, have you decided which genre your stories fit in?
And let’s have a bit of fun in the comments! Every commenter will have their name in the drawing for a copy of “Convenient Amish Proposal.”
If you include a suggestion for my new pen name in your comment, you’ll also be in the drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card. So suggest away!