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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Do Writers Sell More Books if they Cross Genres?

I've been browsing many best selling authors on Amazon this week after finally finishing my third book. I've been a little high when thinking that one day I might achieve this same status.

But despite these authors writing different categories of books, they all seem to have one thing in common: they write in different genres.

If you look for information regarding how to sell books on the internet, you're more than likely to discover discussions on author brands, and how it's crucial for writers to build their brand name on their platform to entice their readers. This advice is given so your readers will begin to trust what sort of books you produce. For example, everyone on this planet knows what books Stephen King writes and on his books you'll notice he'll have his name on the top of his book rather than the title. Not only is this more eye catching as usually it's the first thing you see, but the title on the bottom of the book will almost seem insignificant. The reader knows who the author is so therefore even without glancing at the title they'll know roughly what the book is about.

But what happens when writers do decide to cross genres? Will their existing brand be ruined if they decide to hop about all over the place?

I've often worried this myself because this question is going to affect me very soon. My first two books have been about travel, adventure and excitement with a little steam thrown in there too. Most people know me as a citizen of the world because I am open about the fact that I've been around it three times.

But what will happen when my third book is released and people discover it's not related to wild backpacking stories, and that it's just another chick lit book in an overcrowded market? Can I expect my current fans to have the same enthusiasm if I dare ask them to read it?

Then I stop to think a while.

Yes, I have fans for my two current books but I'm sure these people just don't like to stick to one particular genre, do they? Okay, some might but I'll probably discover readers like myself who like to read all sorts of different books. I like to read non fiction, biographies and memoirs. Books by Belle de Jour and real life stories of serial killers. That's the crime reader in me. I also like to read light hearted chick lit and comedy books by Sibel Hodge. Her Amazon author page is here:

So then I wonder do these writers sell more books overall because they've branched out and attempted to reach a different audience?

A lot of successful writers will tell you more books will equal more sales because every book has the potential to find more readers. I blogged about this topic last week:

You might be wondering why a photo of Terry Fox is on my blog. I posted this picture in an effort to inspire fellow writers. Terry was an athlete of great tenacity. He had determination and great courage. Terry died in his early twenties from cancer after nearly running the entire width of Canada on a false leg. Although he was ill he was determined to achieve his goal. He had qualities shared with successful writers. He didn't give up but continued his marathon, however much of a struggle it was.

So what do you think? Do writers brave enough to venture into a different genre sell more books overall? Please share your experiences with us.


  1. I'm far from best-selling but I also write cross-genre. My current 5 novels are in the historical fiction category but I have others in military, thrillers, YA fantasy, and Cold War.

    But, as you point out, if you don't go beyond a limited audience, you're missing out on better opportunities by expanding your horizons.

  2. I don’t think I’m brave. Not by a long chalk. But we write what we write. My first two novels didn’t fit into any neat category but let’s just say they’re General Fiction. I then published a collection of poetry. Then a literary novel. Then a collection of contemporary fiction. And every time I found myself looking for a new group to pitch to. Because the poets don’t review novels and the novelists don’t review short stories. Christ knows if I ever publish the plays in print form who I’ll get to review them! History proves that when a musician stops doing what people expect him or her to do they lose a chunk of their fan base. Just look at the kerfuffle when Dylan went electric. The thing is unless you’re a fan of me as a person (and those who meet that criterion are few and far between—my wife, daughter and a handful of others) then people who enjoy my poetry might not enjoy my novels and those who enjoyed the light-hearted Truth novels might not see the humour in the literary novel and I’m pretty sure everyone will wonder what I’m all about in the short stories especially the four in dialect. We write what we write. I’m dreading—dreading—bringing out my next novel because it really is a literary novel with sentences half a page long and twice as long as any of my other novels. But it needed written. It needed got over so I could clear my head for whatever came next.

    So basically what I’m saying is that if you can keep churning out what Joe Public wants you might find you can build up an audience who actually looks forward to whatever you’re going to bring out next because they imagine it to meet certain expectations. But that’s not what being an artist’s all about. You need to evolve. And if that means going back to the bottom of the hill every book then so be it. We’re not in this for the money. If we are we need our heads seeing to.

  3. Thanks so much for mentioning me, Laura, I'm honoured! I write in many different genres because I write what I like to read and my taste is eclectic. As long as you make it clear in the description that it's a chick lit book or a psychological thriller, I think that's fine, because readers who like your work may also read different genres and want to read something by the same author because they already know they like their writing.

    I think the bottom line is to write from the heart. Write with passion and it shines through in your work. So write the story you need to tell, regardless of which genre it falls into. :) xx

  4. Hi there, I started writing adventure and romance, then quickly followed with mystery suspense. I now write in both genre, (6 mystery suspense and 5 romance/drama/suspense) and I see success on both platforms. I think the key is not to be afraid. If you need to write in a different genre
    and know your subject then do it! As Sibel says write from the heart. Thanks for good blog post, Laura.

  5. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject. I have often wondered if it was a smart decision to wander from my normal genre, but sometimes we must take the chance. As you said, there are many people who love different types of books, so if they enjoy your writing style they should enjoy something new and completely different from you, right? **grinning**

  6. Oops… I immediately mis-read your headline because I write across two or three genres. Comedy Mystery and Comedy Adventures… always with a little romance on the side. Thank you for the post, it was quite interesting. I think I will stay the course. :) For now, anyway. :)

  7. Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and opinions. It seems like a lot of writers cross genres.

    And Sibel, you are very welcome indeed. Thank you for taking the time to comment :)

  8. When I took a workshop with an author who was successful and established as a writer of legal thrillers (that had become his "brand"), when he wanted to write something in a completely different genre, he did it under a pen name. So, I guess that's another option.