When I worked in the corporate sector, I was a bit of a corporate identity expert. Today, we know that niche as BRANDING. Essentially, it’s a matter of making sure anything you put out (in the corporate world, that means mailers, brochures, letters, user manuals, etc.) is easily and immediately identifiable as belonging to you. You select a Pantone color or colors for your company and always use them. You have a set font and font size. You always use your logo.
It’s not much different now that I work in the fiction industry. I am my brand. Other than anthologies (and my very first novel), my name always appears in the same font on my book covers, that that’s the same way it appears across social media. My “logo” (if you want to say I have one) is my initials, also in that font, also offset so the first is higher than the last. I use the same color palate, and I don’t deviate from these things (unless I create a complete brand overhaul) because they are recognizable as me.
I read a lot of author advice blogs, and much of the advice says that part of your brand is the genre you write in. Much of it advises you not cross genres, because you’ll lose readers or have to maintain two brands. A well-known example of this is Nora Roberts, who writes romance under the name Nora Roberts but writes futuristic crime novels under the name J. D. Robb. (Lesser known pen names for her are Jill March and Sarah Hardesty.) Granted, she likely has an assistant (or an army of them) to maintain these separate identities, but most of us aren’t that lucky. (If you take the time to visit those sites, you’ll notice there’s not much crossover. Different colors, different fonts, even different author pics. Truly two differentiated brands.) And who among us wants to take time away from writing to maintain one platform, let alone two or more?
To those advice-givers who say to split their brands, I say NO FREAKING WAY. Not only do I not have the time to maintain multiple brands, I don’t find it necessary. In fact, I find it helpful to condense all my work under the multi-genre author umbrella.
When I don’t use my tagline “Writing Relationship Wrongs” on my marketing materials, I use “multi-genre author” or I list the genres I focus on. Most notably (but honestly, not limited to) Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Paranormal, and Mainstream.
I haven’t found this to be a hindrance. In fact, I see a lot of crossover in my readers. Fans of my mainstream work, the Cathedral Lake series, also tend to read my paranormal romance saga, the Medici Protectorate series, as well as my romance novellas and my various short story titles (I’ve written westerns, thrillers, romances, mainstream, a sci-fi, etc.).
I think, at least in my case but likely for many writers, it’s not about the genre as much as the writing itself.
It’s not a matter of having fans of a certain genre, but rather, having fans of a particular writer’s style. (Does that sentiment resonate with you? If so, click here to tweet it.)
Personally, I think when I write (and yes, I do outline, so don’t think it’s because I don’t plan properly), my work takes on aspects of many different genres. I don’t find being a multi-genre author difficult. I do find marketing my work as one particular genre can be complicated.
If you’re traditionally published, your publisher will determine what genre to list your work as. Of course, your submission to them should have told them what genre the work was, so maybe you do (in a roundabout way) determine your own genre. On the other hand, they may go a different way from what your query letter defined your work as.
If you’re self-published, you’re definitely on your own.
My latest release, Pride and Fall, is listed in my publisher’s catalog (Oghma Creative Media) as a mainstream title with their imprint, Foyle Press. But when I market it, I struggle with how to describe it. There are elements of mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, crime, and even medical drama genres in it. In fact, many of my teaser graphics reflect these different genres.
So what’s an author to do? Well, I suggest concentrating your marketing efforts for these cross-genre works where they’ll do the most good. I’d use my romantically-themed teaser for places that cater to romance readers, my thriller-themed teaser for sites that attract thriller readers, etc. (The slideshow below shows five different teasers for the novel, to give you an idea of the variety of promotion I can do with this title.) You get the idea.
These days, it’s pretty easy to establish a consistent brand. It’s even easy if your brand is as a multi-genre author. The hardest part is pigeon-holing your work on a site like Amazon, who limits the genres you can list as. But with a little keyword creativity, you can even narrow your scope there.
What about you? Do you write in multiple genres or one? Do you maintain multiple brands or not? Do you have a strong feeling either way about multiple genres? Let’s talk about it.
Oh! I almost forgot to mention it! (Sometimes I get carried away with things I want to discuss. Shocking, isn’t it? LOL) Today, you can find me at Angela Scavone’s site where I’ll be talking about two different works of mine—a steamy romance (When We Finally Kiss Goodnight) and a mainstream fiction work (Pride and Fall) that, as you know, actually falls into different genres. Consider showing Angela some love by visiting her site and sharing her post and/or leaving her a comment. Thanks!