Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Juggling Genres… Brilliance or Pure Folly?

Variety versus boredom

I love to write but don’t want to get boxed into one genre. Does that create problems? Absolutely! Does it keep things interesting? You bet!

I consider my specialized skill to be simply…. writing. Do some writers have a particular niche they focus on? Most do and many ‘experts’ warn not to switch about as it makes it difficult to market your services (or for book marketing). That’s probably the biggest downside to switching genres. For authors, once you have a following, switching genres can alienate your readers. But sometimes you just need a change, right? If you plan on juggling genres just promise you’ll be back. It’ll be part of your messaging. If you’re traditionally published you might have a battle on your hands with your publisher though. That’s when you might consider turning to self-publishing. 

Mental Pause book signing at Stayner's Wharf in Halifax, NS
For me I need the variety. After spending days on end writing Tweets or profiles for a client my eyes tend to glaze over and my mind wanders. Sometimes the screen even gets blurry. It’s amazing how invigorating it is to switch gears to a work of fiction. It’s almost as energizing as a brisk walk on the beach.

Switching genres may have its ups and downs but that doesn’t mean it’s not doable.

Before you make a switch, ask yourself these questions:
  1. Is there a genre you’ve been dying to explore?
  2. Do you have the skills for it? Some people are just more suited to or are more comfortable with a particular genre.
  3. As an author, have you truly found your voice? If so, think long and hard before switching. If not, what are you waiting for?
Tempering the Confusion

If you decide to write multiple genres, be ready to manage a complex communications strategy and author platform. I’m in the midst of fine-tuning mine to make sure that it speaks to both a potential client's needs as well as readers of my novels. My novelist persona is very new so I’m gently introducing that side of me, while maintaining the ‘bread and butter’ of my content writing side.

-       I have redesigned my website that I’ve had for more than five years. I’ve made it softer and changed the focus from hard-core business to more of a personal feel. My clients are either other authors or they're in the service or consulting industries and, therefore, more people centric, so it works well.
-       I’ve added a books tab and have created landing pages for my books (for @Home in Dubai it actually links to a whole different website).
-        I have a website builder package that includes unlimited pages so I can add as many books to it as I write. I create and manage my own websites using Go Daddy, which makes it easier and cheaper. I also use the same service for my email database and distribution as well as my online bookshop.

Social Media
-       Of course, I have a presence on Facebook, which I’ve been building for six years. I have a personal profile, which I keep for family and friends as well as several pages, one for me as a writer/author and a page for each book. There is some overlap but I try to post fresh content on each so those who are on all of the pages, don’t get annoyed.
-       I have chosen to only have one Twitter account @annethewriter. I rotate tweets between all my endeavours, including my volunteer work. I gamble that there’s enough commonality among my Tweeps that if I post a Tweet about my book launch, it’s not going to turn off my current or potential clients, fellow expats or social media buffs who are following.
-       I have two blogs, one for general writing (this one) and one for my novel, Mental Pause. I think blog subscribers are less forgiving if you switch gears on them too much. I know I’m walking a fine line with that and probably need to streamline this blog a bit more.
-       Like my website, my LinkedIn profile combines it all with a headline that reads, ‘Author, Freelance Writer, Editor and Social Media Consultant’ and sports the same photo that I have on the website. My status updates rotate in a similar way to my Twitter posts but are not duplicated.
-       I’ve just started playing around with Pinterest so don’t quite have a handle on it yet but do have my book covers pinned (but in different categories) as well as images that link to my blogs on writing and social media.

@Home in Dubai book launch and author chat, Central Perk, Dubai
These are the strategies I’m using where I’ve combined all of my genres but there are those that are specific to developing my author platform, promoting my writing/mentoring services, non-fiction books or launch of my novels as well.  For example, the blog tour for my first novel was totally different from the blog tour I did for @Home in Dubai. Book reviewers do focus on particular genres so once you have a list built, if you’re switching genres, you probably won’t be able to use much of it again.

When it all comes down to it, you’ve got to do what makes you happy and for the time being, juggling genres is what does it for me.

Note: This blog post first appeared on The Bookshelf Muse (now Writers Helping Writers) during the virtual book tour of the launch of my first novel, Mental Pause. This is a slightly different version with a few minor updates :)


JeriWB said...

I'm definitely inclined to juggle genres for now as I continue to test the waters of what writing I am most gravitating toward. Something in me want to write a novel or two, but I'm better at short stories. Deep down, I'm more of a memoir and creative nonfiction writer. It's fun be diverse!

Anne OConnell said...

Hi Jeri
I think that's becoming more common especially with us writers who began writing careers in the business arena. Being a multi-genre writer is not something I consciously decided to do. It's just as I explore other forms of writing I'm having a hard time letting go of the others... and I don't really have to until I'm ready :) My writers' group has decided to put together an anthology of short stories so I'll be entering (or re-entering) your realm over the next few months!

Happy Writing,

Anonymous said...

Interesting post Anne. You certainly are juggling a lot! Did you know that Central Perk is not there anymore? It's an Italian place now.

Anne OConnell said...

No way! Central Perk... gone? Say it isn't so. It was a landmark, just like the 'big flag'. How sad... except the parking was awful so it may have kept people from stopping.

Yes, I'm juggling a lot but loving it all. One of these days I'll let something go but not just yet :)