From Writer Unboxed:
You may know me as Greer Macallister, bestselling author of historical fiction, but lately, I’ve taken on another identity. I have a new book out (you may have heard of it) and as the author of Scorpica, my identity has shifted in two key respects: my name on the book jacket is G.R. Macallister, and it’s not historical fiction, but epic fantasy.
All in all, the genre shift has been a pleasure. I wrote something ambitious, complex, and satisfying, proving to myself I was capable of something entirely new. As to the less-pleasant aspects, I went in with my eyes open. I knew that putting out a new book in a new genre, different from the one in which I’ve established myself, would require flexibility and patience. Of course that’s what’s needed as an author in general, but the genre switch put extra pressure on both of those character traits, to say the least.
Do I regret changing genres after four books (while reserving the right to switch back at any time)? Not at all. But do I have advice for those thinking about making the switch? You bet.
If you’re an author with an established readership in one genre looking to publish in another, here are three things to watch out for:
Don’t underestimate the time that it takes. Maybe if you’re shifting between subgenres this might not be an issue, but in my case, making the move from writing historical fiction to writing epic fantasy wasn’t just about writing a different book. It was about learning to write a different kind of book, almost from the ground up. Reading up on current fantasy was a fun task to assign myself, but it was a task nonetheless — hours and hours of reading, to fit in among all the other reading I do for work and for fun. So that’s a bunch of time up front. Plus there’s…
You might need to shake up your team, which takes even more time. The agent who has sold all of my historical novels is fabulous and wonderful, but she doesn’t represent epic fantasy, and the publisher who published those books doesn’t really do adult fantasy either. Which meant it wasn’t just the writing itself that was different, but every other aspect of managing and selling this new book. My incredibly kind agent gave me the go-ahead to connect with a separate agent just for my fantasy work, and my agreements with both were written to accommodate the other, and it’s been a dream so far. But making that dream happen through querying and negotiation took an extra half-year on top of the writing work, and without extraordinary luck it could have been much worse. Other friends shifting genres have had to leave old agents and find new ones, or strike out on their own with self-publishing ventures, and both of those are even more time-consuming. And on top of that…
Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed
1 thought on “The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Changing Genres”
it was about learning to write a different kind of book, almost from the ground up. Reading up on current fantasy was a fun task to assign myself, but it was a task nonetheless — hours and hours of reading, to fit in among all the other reading I do for work and for fun.
What drew her to fantasy if she hasn’t been reading it all along? I’m curious about that, because it sounds as if she just discovered fantasy “yesterday.” Also, I hope she read the classics and not just the current stuff. At least, though, she did set out to read in the genre she’s writing in, which is important.
That said, I always thought most writers who write in more than one genre were already fans of the genre they were writing in. It’s just that if they were tradpub they had to restrict themselves to one at a time, or use a pen name. I wasn’t surprised Rowling branched into mystery, because she wove mysteries into Harry Potter. If Lois McMaster Bujold turns out to write mysteries under a pen name I wouldn’t be shocked, either. Curious what advice a Nora Roberts would give in this situation, or any other author who always wrote in more than one genre and didn’t have to give herself a crash course in it.
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