Writing Across Multiple Genres: AuthorToolBox

It’s time again for my contribution to this month’s #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop where dozens of experienced writers share their experiences.  I encourage you to check out their thoughts by clicking on the icon at the end of this post.  This month I ask the question: Can an author write across multiple genres and develop a following? 

My latest book, At the River’s Edge, is a murder mystery set current-day near my home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Prior to this novel, I’d written the Miles Stevens investigative suspense series. This three-book series is based on a CIA agent from a couple decades in the future sent back in time to stop global terrorism: Cyber One (cyber-attacks), Melting Sand (nuclear flare-up), and Gone Viral (viral contamination).  I’ve also written three short story collections of eclectic tales and two additional crime/suspense novels set a few years into the future: Better Late Than Ever and Corrupt Connection.

If there’s a common thread in all my novels, it’s suspense.  I attempt to build tension early in each novel and then dedicate the rest of the story to disclosing and resolving the conflict. I also include a male and female protagonist in each novel working as a team to thwart evil.

Collection 8

I’ve recently decided I prefer writing murder mysteries, and have already started my second, putting the Miles Stevens series temporarily “on hold.” But can an author write across genres and still build an identity and following with readers?

My short answer is probably not.

It’s tough enough for indie authors to develop a following when they focus on a single genre.  Most big-time authors narrow on a niche, and if they ever decide to divert course, they sometimes write under another name. Witness J.K. Rowling’s efforts to step away from YA/Fantasy as Robert Galbraith, crime novelist.

Admittedly, I’m no J.K. Rowling. My following numbers in the hundreds, not hundreds of thousands.  Nonetheless, my readers have expectations. And if I ever want to get to thousands of dedicated book buyers, I doubt I can do it writing in multiple genres.

So, where do I go from here?

My plan is to continue to market the Miles Stevens series.  I may even add to it if there’s continued interest, but my writing focus going forward will be on suspenseful mystery novels.  This is for several reasons:

  • At the River’s Edge has sold more copies in the first two months than any of my other titles.
  • I also believe mystery and suspense has a wider appeal to both men and women, whereas my Miles Stevens series leans more toward men.
  • And most of all, if I were to pick a genre in which to write, it would be mystery novels, and specifically murder mysteries.

Keep a lookout for Butcher Road, the next in what I hope to be a long line of murder mysteries.

To enjoy other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click HERE.  Thanks to Raimey Gallant for facilitating this year’s blog.  I look forward to 2019.   Happy blog hopping!Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

Butcher Road - 3D-Book-Template

20 thoughts on “Writing Across Multiple Genres: AuthorToolBox

  1. Can they all fall under the umbrella of “thriller”?
    Merriam-Webster defines thriller as:
    “a work of fiction or drama designed to hold the interest by the use of a high degree of intrigue, adventure, or suspense”

    Then you can still write what you’re interested in, but brand it in a slightly different way. All of our stories slip into other genres, which is made clear by the blurb. Maybe some of your readers of one series might enjoy other books not as closely related, but still a thriller.

    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ronel, thanks for the suggestion. They clearly can fit under the “thriller” umbrella. I describe the Miles Stevens series as packed with “investigative intrigue and suspense.” My latest novel is clearly a murder mystery, but also filled with intrigue and suspense. My other two novels are crime/suspense novels, but not murder mysteries. Slight differences, but all would fit under “thrillers.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I definitely agree that dabbling in different genres is often an obstacle to gaining a following, but I also can’t help but think that there is much one can learn from it. I feel like every story has at least a little horror, romance, and scifi/fantasy in it.

    Of course one can always dabble in other genres while also maintaining a steady release of the “tried and true” story style one is known for.

    But it is regrettable, I think, that it is so. And it’s also kindof funny, since many seem to complain about how authors keep writing the same story using different character names.

    There’s that way in which a story needs to be “just different enough” that audiences feel it is distinct from earlier works, while also delivering on the same core virtues that made audiences love the author’s earlier works.
    Storytelling is a funny business.


  3. I do believe success comes from following the genre we love to read the most. I have had some success with the cross over from YA Fantasy to Adult fantasy, but I prefer to stick with where my own heart strings pull. I also think one can never go wrong with suspense. It’s an art that keeps readers wanting to learn more 🙂


  4. This is a topic I’ve spent a lot of time with as well as I write various genres as well. I agree – it’s difficult to build a following while writing various genres. I do find that my cozy mysteries and romantic comedies have a lot of cross over readers. I can’t say the same for my historical fiction. I feel your struggle.


  5. I often take notice of multi-genre authors. My favorite writers stick to one genre and I buy everything in that genre. If they do tiptop outside of it, I skip those. So, it seems, I should stick to one genre, based on personal experience.

    But, like you, I now have series in two genres and I’m not sure what to do about that. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! This is a question I thought about significantly in the early days when I was trying to find my voice. I’ve since settled on Thriller as my genre and haven’t looked back – yet. Your question, of will the readers follow me across genres, is something I think we all consider/struggle with. Good for you for nailing down your route, and good luck moving forward!


  7. Sheree

    This is a really interesting take and gives something to think about; I’m still in the stage where I’m writing WIP’s in many different genres to see what feels most natural – I think I’ll have to pick my favourite genre and stick to it for a while until I can gather the strength to think of a pen-name!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Genre is tricky for me too. I have four projects I’m dabbling in: One sci-fi/fantasy, one fantasy, one supernatural romance, and the other I can’t define. I wish there was a better way to describe my work than genre. Putting things in boxes feels too rigid to me, and for me my work’s about the characters and their adventures more than anything else 🙂


  9. First, congrats on the At The River’s Edge, selling well. That’s wonderful. Second, contrast on the number of books. That a big accomplishment. You’ve made some good points about whether to write in multiple genres. I think authors grow, and what an author is interested in also changes. I like the idea of writing in multiple genres – although I have yet to try it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kristina. “Selling well” is relative to my other titles, although I have been encouraged by the initial response. You’re correct in that I was like most new authors in not knowing what genre I preferred at first. I still enjoy my Miles Stevens series, but am leaning toward old-fashioned murder mysteries.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Victoria Marie Lees

    Great post, D.R. I like how you have a male and female team investigating your mysteries. Bravo on your recent success with At the River’s Edge. All the luck with the new release. Writing across multiple genres seems difficult, I tell myself as I write short YA adventure stories and memoir. You have titles under your belt. You are way ahead of me. Thank you so much for sharing this with your fellow Toolbox writers. All the best to you, sir.


    Liked by 1 person

  11. Iola Goulton

    I have a friend currently struggling with this question. She calls herself a “genre butterfly” … which sounds cute, but I think you’re right. I think most indie authors are best off sticking to one genre.

    Liked by 1 person

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