Saturday, 29 March 2014

Is making up a genre allowed?

Random picture of the Celtic Cross in my
town, for no reason whatsoever
I've been thinking about my books recently, not so much my published stuff, but all the many half-written things still to come.

I've been considering my business plan - you know, that whole five year plan thing that managers in your day job talk about all the time? Well, it's not such a bad idea for us flighty writers either.

Should you try placing some more short stories to advertise your novels? Should you write articles to get your name out there? Should you publish your books in a different order to maximise your wow factor?

While I was thinking about these questions, I realised that my books are all different. I don't write the same genre from one project to the next. And this makes deciding what to publish/query next a little confusing - my 'fan base' would get used to my vaguely NA book, then be confronted with a contemporary romance, a psychological thriller, back to NA...

My website states that I'm an 'author of contemporary short stories and novellas', because it's a catch-all term, but it doesn't really mean that much. It doesn't help with the whole marketing thing, because it encompasses a lot of predetermined ideas on the part of the person scanning Amazon.

Do I need a genre? Am I allowed to make one up?
How did you decide what genre to write in, or did it choose you?


37 comments:

  1. I don't like writers being slotted into pigeon-holes and boxes. It's very restrictive, and I can understand how actors feel when they're trying to break free from the role-types they're always designated.
    Life encompasses many aspects, and so should writing.
    I hope we can find a new word for 'non-genre' - how about 'random'? Perhaps not, because it doesn't portray anything, either. I like the picture, and it's got nothing to do with it being phallic!

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    1. I agree. I don't necessarily want to be slotted in, but when I look around, the most successful authors have this brand/theme that follows them.

      I'll never look at the cross in the same way again, Fanny :-)

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  2. I don't see why you shouldn't make up a genre.

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    1. Early thoughts are death-lit and psycho-lit :-D

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  3. I agree with Fanny. I don't think we should have to try to fit into any particular box.

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    1. It's just everyone else seems to be warm and fuzzy in their boxes... I do understand though, despite my facetiousness :-)

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  4. I've heard a lot about "branding" but when I turned a MG fantasy in to my agent, after writing only YA historical mysteries before that -- and she sold it! -- neither my agent or editors suggested I change my name or do anything to differentiate myself as a writer of different genres and for different age groups.

    A more famous example than me is Victoria Schwab, who writes adult, YA, and MG.

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    1. That's cool. I know it works for many author who have agents backing them, but I think it might be a different story for smaller authors who hop around between small publishers and self-publishing, it might be more important. I'm only guessing - I've been writing for a long time, but only publishing books for a relatively short period.

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  5. I feel like new genres come about because writers are brazen and confident enough to write them-- then everyone else jumps on the bandwagon.

    There was a great article today over at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer's blog (www.rmfw.org) about how fiction writers should write nonfiction and why. :)

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    1. I definitely would love to be ahead of the game, driving the bandwagon rather than clinging on to it :-) I'll check out the link, thanks.

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  6. I started out on my writing journey feeling sure I was going down the chick lit route. No sooner had I finished my first draft than I was pulled in another direction. I have been writing early reader and MG ever since. Genre can be confusing and I see no reason why there shouldn't be room for more in the future. Look at NA, a couple years ago I hadn't heard of it, now it seems to be really taking off. It's good to try new things, you never know where it may take you.

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    1. That's quite a switch, Suzanne, but you were obviously drawn in that direction.

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  7. Hi Annalisa .. it's good to use your name - then you can 'move around' ... have you seen Elizabeth Spann Craig's site: http://elizabethspanncraig.com/ - here's her intro page .. and she writes different series.

    I went back to her blogspot blog for articles on branding as I couldn't search on her new one:
    I came up with this ... : http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/building-brand-guest-post-by-beate.html

    She also has a Writer's Kowledge Base .. set up with a friend .. link on RH side of the WP blog - first one ..

    I hope this helps .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks for those thinks, Hilary, that's really kind of you. I'll check them out in a minute.

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  8. Make up a genre and maybe I could fit in it. I understand your problem - am I a poet, a flash fiction author, a memoir writer, or a humorist? It truly is easier to promote if you have a slot. Good luck and I shall enjoy seeing your business plan develop. Is "flighty writer" a genre?

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    1. Oh, yes, I think 'flighty' would make a great genre.

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  9. I don't know much about this stuff, but I'd say forget the genre and just be you. Plenty of writers don't always stick to the same genre but it's their distinctive writing style that people love - and that's what makes them so great.
    Obviously, I know nothing about the reality of publishing, but that's my 10p worth anyway. :-)

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    1. I would love to be the kind of writer that when people see my name on a book, they want to read it no matter what I've written - that's the aim, anyway! I think readers are much happier to browse, it is the publishers who like labels.

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  10. Hi Annalisa,

    Make up as many genres as you like. Keep the mind inspired. I love somebody who dares to be different. Penny the Jack Russell created a genre about a dog talking about a fictional character she created when her mind got inspired whilst sniffing in the garden.

    Penny's fictional character,

    Gary :)

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    1. Penny's imagination holds no bounds - which is brilliant for all of us, because we get to associate with her imaginary friend!

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  11. I'm with you... I like to write across different genres too, but if I had to group it, it would fall under romance... that's a common thread through the stories. Maybe that's all you need to identify in your stories.

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    1. At least 'romance' is an easier thread than 'people in comas' which seems to be my direction at the moment :-)

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  12. Hey Annalisa,

    Whew! I finally made it by...only took me about a week from the time I thought to myself "I need to see what Annalisa's up to" to actually making it over to see what you're up to.

    Soo...whatcha up to? :)

    Anyway—genres. Ugh. I don't feel a fit anywhere, either. That's why I just say "literary fiction." It seems to cover it all for me, too. We'll see. I write the stories as they want to be told and how they fit into the world is a bridge to cross later. Good to see you.

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    1. I'd love to call myself 'literary', but something stops me. It's what all my writing heroes write, and I don't think I fit up there yet.

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    2. And, thanks for dropping in. I'm up to nothing - just a lot of procrastinating and not writing at the moment :-/

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  13. I don't fit in any genre either and really the whole idea of genre causes total anxiety on my part. I'm honestly envious sometimes of those authors who write in a specific genre and are able to really take that and run with it. I like your idea of "death lit" LOL.

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    1. I know, I feel a bit of envy too. Sometimes I have no idea what I've written until I'm finished! I'm sure we can make death lit work, if we really try :-)

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  14. You don't need a specific genre unless that's what you really, really want. My short stories cover the entire board. You can say you write Speculative Fiction. That covers a lot!

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    1. I've written a couple of speculative stories, but I couldn't get away with that genre for many!

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  15. I don't know. I think as a new writer you may want to establish yourself "somewhere" but you are then free to to move around. Many well know authors have moved from genre to genre. But as a new writer, I think it may look as though you don't know what you want.

    I do have another genre I want to write in, but I'm setting my crime fiction basis up first, making it solid before I show another side to me.

    Just my thoughts, and I think some of those have come from things I've read from "traditional" places, so feel free to completely ignore. :)

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    1. Luckily, after 20 years, I don't have to be a new writer! Perhaps I could describe myself as a genre-hopper!

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  16. I have always considered you literary fiction, or book club fiction. The need to pay attention to your stories and possibly taking some notes while reading...that's what each of your books have in common.

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    1. Note-taking? No offence, but I probably won't mention that in any promotional material LOL! But, I am honoured that you consider me literary :-)

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  17. I worked on a short story and it's still out getting a good proof and edit and is more an inspirational type story and definitely far from humor. My post for ISWG is asking others about writing in a different genre. :)

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    1. I find my fiction voice is far removed from my real/blog voice - it's very strange. I couldn't write fictional humour to save my life!!

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  18. I am a genre-bender as well. So far, I don't have any big book deals, so I'm not the one to ask advice from.

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  19. I don't believe that authors should fit a category or change based on expectations or the current market.

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Please comment - I love a good chat!