Stick to One Genre, Or, Ignoring Perfectly Good Writing Advice

Original Cover-sBack when I was starting out as a novelist and I was flitting around from genre to genre, I was told to pick one and stick to it. I was told I shouldn’t write one book that’s romance, another that’s science fiction, or God forbid, a romance science fiction novel (which, sigh, I did write). I found that advice irritating because I wanted to write all over the place. In fact, I wanted to write not only novels, but also screenplays and the occasional article and short story.

Eventually I did settle on romance novels, and then narrowed that down even more to category romances. I still wrote the occasional screenplay in between book contracts, but those scripts didn’t go anywhere (the movie business is really, really hard to break into), so I felt I could really only call myself a romance novelist.

Awakening Final cover-sAfter 17 romance novels, I got kind of burnt out. I decided to try my hand at young adult fiction. Since I’m not one to waste good material, I decided to take one of my screenplays (a sci-fi thriller) and adapt the story into a YA novel. This eventually became the Tankborn trilogy (I got a lot of mileage out of that one script).

This is all fine and dandy, you’re probably thinking. I wrote in one genre for a while (romance), then switched to another (YA science fiction).

Well, yes, except…I got the rights back to 7 of my romance novels. And with the brave new world of indie publishing, I started re-releasing my romances as e-books, under the pen name, Kayla Russo.

This all worked fairly well. My sexy romances were published as Kayla Russo books, and the YA as Karen Sandler books. There was a squidge of confusion there, what with my Harlequin books still published under Karen Sandler. But since I’m letting Harlequin do the work of promoting those, I didn’t worry my pretty little writer head about it.

Then I sold Clean Burn to Exhibit A Books. Clean Burn is not a romance and not a YA SF. It’s an adult mystery. It’s–ack!–a third genre. So how was I supposed to market three genres worth of books?

ARe Sweet Dream LoverFirst, I dropped the pen name. That’s the miracle of indie publishing for you. I had my cover artist revamp the covers with Karen Sandler as author, touched up the files and re-published them. I created another Twitter identity, @karensandler, for the adult stuff and continued using @karensandlerYA for my YA stuff. I am now in the process of splitting out my website (which currently only promotes my YA books) into three choices–YA, Romance, Mystery.

So, do I regret ignoring the “Stick to One Genre” advice? No. I really wanted to write all the books I’ve written, genre be damned. I do wish it wasn’t so hard to keep all those balls (books?) in the air at one time. I wish every reader loved reading all three genres I’m published in (side note: I recently found out it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition).

So, what about you? If you’re a writer, are you doing the genre-flit like me? If you’re a reader, to you love reading a multitude of genres? If you do, thank you from the bottom of my genre-confused heart. You are my kind of reader.

About karensandler

Lover of chocolate. A couple felines short of full-fledged Cat Lady. Author of the YA Tankborn Trilogy (TANKBORN, AWAKENING, and REBELLION), from Tu Books. Founding team member of We Need Diverse Books. Opinions expressed here are my own.
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