Did I screw my writing career by switching genres? #MondayBlogs #AmWriting

The title is a bit harsh, but I’m feeling somewhat raw this morning. Let me explain. I recently published Searching for Gertrude, a historical romance. My previous eight books were either romantic comedies or funny, cozy mysteries. With six of those novels being part of two series, I’d built up a teensy-weensy following. But then I decided to write a novel about wartime Istanbul. There isn’t a joke to be found in Searching for Gertrude – even though being funny is the reason I’d finally started selling a book or two.

What happened when I switched genres? The first backlash occurred when I approached my list of readers and bloggers who normally agree to read and review my novels. A good portion weren’t interested in this novel. They wanted another romantic comedy or light mystery – not something serious and even somewhat depressing at times.

And then there are those reviewers who decided to give Searching for Gertrude a try as they normally like my writing. Unfortunately, several of them gave the book a big ‘ol DNF. Although they were sweet about it, saying the book just wasn’t their thing, it’s still upsetting when a reader you like and have worked with cannot finish your book (because you know they gave it more than a cursory try).

Considering the above, why in the world did I abandon a genre (well, two genres) in which I was finally gaining some momentum to write an historical novel? The first (and for us writers most obvious) answer is because I had to write this story. The story had been rolling around in my head, waking me up at inappropriate times, for more than two years. It simply demanded I wrote it! Despite all the problems I endured while writing Searching for Gertrude, I did enjoy writing it. I loved the research – especially the events vastly unknown by the West making me feel like I was ‘discovering’ new facts.

And also, let’s be perfectly honest here, I don’t make a bunch of money from selling my novels. Sure, I make some and that amount was growing at a steady rate with my romcoms and funny, cozy mysteries. But the amount is not enough (at least as long as the hubby has a good job!) for me to abandon a book idea that I absolutely loved and felt compelled to research and then write.

Although some of my steady reviewers have abandoned me, most have not. In fact, one reviewer wrote this:

Switching genres

As I’ve been forced to search for new readers, I’ve also found new bloggers and readers for my novels. Granted, I should be searching for new readers to review my books all the time, but there are only so many hours in a day. In the end, the overall reviews for the novel are good (currently averaging 4.6), and that’s what is important. (I know I shouldn’t care too much about reviews, but I’m human. Of course, I care!)

I’ve also been pushed into finding new ways to advertise the novel. Considering how fluid the market is – pushing indie writers to constantly search for new promotion possibilities – that’s not a bad thing, although it is time consuming. I’m currently working on a few different ideas. I’ll let you know how that goes.

What about other writers? Have you experienced any backlash from switching genres? Or are you too afraid to try? (Yes, that’s me daring you.)

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  1. Reblogged this on anita dawes and jaye marie and commented:
    I have been contemplating a change of genre lately. (I’m still not sure how I stumbled into writing mystery thrillers) I always like spooky supernatural stories, and a good part of me wants to write one, but maybe, after reading your post, I will wait a while!

  2. I have five historicals and one contemporary. It was a change, but I found that people really didn’t mind. They actually loved the story. I’m back to historicals now. Down the road I’ll do another one. They are a nice break to the research it takes for a historical. The contemporary is doing better right now, but that’s because I found the perfect picture/blurb combo for it in a Facebook ad that has taken off. I haven’t had such luck with the historicals. Not to mention, even though I’m making the cost of the ad in royalties (plus a little extra), to get to that point you have to spend some money tweaking the ad to find the right one and right now, adding several hundred to my ad costs just isn’t in the cards.

  3. Interesting thoughts. I am keen on writing in a few different genres, so this gives a lot to think about. My plan is to write thrillers/mysteries as I am now, but write children’s fantasy under a different name. Should I aim to publish either way, I can do so under a different alias. If only there were enough hours in the day for all this ideas to blossom!
    Thank you for your insight here – very good blog post x

  4. I’ve written books in 3 different genres, memoirs, a comedy and a 4 book action adventure series. I suspect that the small following I have think I am bipolar, or schizophrenic at the very least – to make more money I think I should have stuck to one. But you need to write what you want to write, the passion shines through.

  5. I think the trick is, to write each genre under a different name. Relatively few readers are non-monogamous, most are quite happy to trundle along in their genre of choice, so when their favourite author writes something completely out of ‘character’ they tend to get a little pouty. 🙂

    Nora Roberts is a perfect and well known example. She writes in one genre and ‘JD Robb’ in another, and their readers expect different things from them, even though the fact that they’re the same person is fairly common knowledge.

    It’s all about perception.

    1. I agree using different names is a good idea, but I’m reluctant to do so as I’ve spent a lot of time building my ‘author platform’.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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