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The Career Author Podcast: Episode 142 – Genre Hopping

Genre Hopping

Genre Hopping

Most people don’t enjoy watching only one kind of movie, eating one type of food, or wearing the same clothes every day. Okay, maybe Zach likes that last one, but either way, it’s not uncommon for writers to want to explore writing in different genres. But should you?

On this ‘landmark’ episode, the guys discuss the pros and cons of genre hopping. Does it make sense to write in other genres, and if so, when? Genre hopping is one of the most debated topics in the indie publishing community. Join Zach and J. as they discuss and give their opinions on this controversial topic.

The Career Author Podcast is a podcast where co-authors J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon share their struggles and successes as full-time authors, advice for improving your writing craft, and honest discussions of what it takes to build a successful career as an author.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • The big questions to ask when deciding whether to hop genres
  • How genre hopping can prevent burnout
  • What you can do to scratch your creative itch without investing too much time
  • How switching genres can hurt your pursuit to earning more money as an author
  • How to decide whether writing in another genre is right for you

Also, Zach recommends a book from friend of the show, Jim Kukral.

Send us your ways and hacks – https://thecareerauthor.com/waysandhacks/ 

Leave us a comment: Do you write in multiple genres or do you aspire to? What has been your experience, or what do you hope to accomplish?

Thanks to all of our patrons! 

Podcast sponsored by Kobo Writing Life – https://writinglife.kobobooks.com 

Get exclusive bonus content by supporting The Career Author Podcast on Patreon at www.patreon.com/thecareerauthor

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Links:

Unskippable® by Jim Kukral – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Q4YJ94Q

The Career Author Podcast: Episode 85 – Using Pen Names – https://thecareerauthor.com/the-career-author-podcast-episode-85-using-pen-names/

2021 Events – https://thecareerauthor.com/events/ 

Chapter Check service – https://chaptercheck.com/ 

The Career Author YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/thecareerauthor

Three Story Methodhttps://books2read.com/threestorymethod 

Three Story Method Workbookhttps://amzn.to/37SAR1a 

Molten Universe Media – http://www.moltenuniversemedia.com

23 thoughts on “The Career Author Podcast: Episode 142 – Genre Hopping

  • Great show guys, loved it!

    I have actually written in multiple genres, and you can still see it in my back catalog. I also aspire to do more genre-hopping. And, there is this debate going on in my brain of, pen name or no pen name? There is much to consider with each idea. But, I have so much more to tell than just this one series I am writing now. Heck, you guys have both seen a piece of what I am working on after I finish the third of the series I have out right now. It is in the same genre as the first series, but I know it is going to be at least kissing another niche. Plus, I want to try and get that series done and out before I finish up the first series…I just need a break from it. I know that is also a really bad idea as well. But, it is the course I have set for myself as of this moment.

    I do know that it is one big experiment for me, and I will see how things go.

    • And, as a quick P.S.
      I hope to acheive success. I know that I would love to be able to publish in all of the myriad genres and niche categories that I love to write in. At some point, I think I will make it work. However, I won’t know that until I get it out there and see how things work.

  • Morning guys. Love the topic today.
    Interesting conversation. I dislike the term genre-hopping because to me it suggests negativity and a lack of commitment. I prefer ‘diversification’ which immediately makes me think positively; it’s hard to argue against diversification in any business. Dylan might not have agreed in 1965 after taking his electric guitar onstage at the Newport Folk Festival because his fans booed him; but that is an outlier.
    A good reason to diversify, in addition to those you mentioned, is to discover if one’s writing style has a better fit in a different genre. Writers grow by writing. They learn new skills and gain new knowledge and develop as a writer. Diversification could be a route to more success.
    There is a danger in digging oneself into one genre; what if the bottom falls out of that market? Imagine if a postapoc career was based on viruses and pandemics; are those books selling now? Imagine if a real zombie plague swept the world killing millions, would zombie books sell as well? 🙂 Imagine if a leading writer in a genre turned out to be a bad person castigated by the media for something horrible, could that affect sales? Diversification could be an insurance policy.
    An answer to your question can be found in the music industry. Some artists and bands perform in different genres and do well, some don’t. My favourite band of all time played folk music, blues music and heavy rock music on the same albums and at concerts and they are the best band ever…
    Clearly if one is earning an income in a genre they would be unwise to genre-hop, but diversification could be useful as an insurance policy.
    To answer your question. I am going to diversify because I don’t have a big audience in my current genre. I suspect I could grow one through marketing and advertising but I don’t want to tie myself to that railtrack yet. I love writing and I am excited about the range of new stories I can write in a new genre.
    So my word of the day is diversification. I think it is worth considering. Most good businesses do it and I suspect our mutual friend in Bath might agree with me.
    Great show guys and my best wishes go to Jim Kukral. I have ‘Unskippable’ and it is a great read. Well worth a look.

    • i agree on the diversification, but I think many authors do it too early and too often, not thinking it (and the long game) through.

      I want to look back and see that I diversified. Right now I’m going to focus on NOT diversifying until my series and related writing in this genre have had a fair shot.

      In 10 years I want to have urban fantasy, space opera, and non-fiction in my portfolio but today I’m forcing myself to stay the course.

      • Totally agree! I think when done too early, if you’re trying to really build an audience and a brand, it can be hurtful. Of course, there are outliers, but that’s an uphill battle, IMO.

  • Good show, guys–I especially like the advice to see if you “scratch the itch” to genre hop within your own genre, or by writing a piece of short fiction. I write both romance and mysteries, but for me, the element that bridges the two genres is the tone–all of my books are comedic, and I think that helps my readers go back and forth. A time period could be another unifying element for genre-hopping. I write under one name, BUT I put on the cover of each book “a romantic comedy” or “a comedic mystery,” etc, so the reader knows exactly what they’re getting. And by putting the genre/subgenre on the cover, I can use it as a subtitle to increase the book’s discoverability. Really enjoyed this topic–it’s not discussed enough. Sadly, hopping to a new genre (with a new name) is a standard strategy for trad houses when an author’s numbers begin to fade.

  • I wanted to comment on K-Lytics genre reports. Personally, I used one to see that my work in a particular genre wasn’t likely to sell. I wan’t writing what people wanted. I feel like it saved my from writing a series that would have wasted a year of my writing life.

    I bought two, I think, and they helped me decide not what tropes to use, but to check my work.

    • Also, the part where you suggested being able to scratch a genre’s itch in your current genre was what sent me here to comment.

      I wanted to tell a particular set of relationship stories, but that original genre is not popular AND I wasn’t hitting the tropes. However, I am able to tell that same story with the same characters in my urban fantasy world.

      Sure, one’s a vampire instead of the girl next door, but tomato tomato.

  • Without thinking about it, I started a series in a slightly different genre than my other books. My main series is historical fiction, but I ended up starting a trilogy in historical fantasy. It was supposed to be a short story…just to scratch an itch! It turned out to be a short novel, my beta readers loved it, and then they asked for two more books. I’ll probably write them. The historical fantasy is set in the same time period as the historical fiction and doesn’t get too crazy in the fantasy arena. It might cross over with readers.

    I will follow an author to other genres if I like their writing style and voice, but only if the other genre is something I like. If a paranormal romance writer I like decided to write fantasy or literary fiction or a thriller, I’d be right there with her. If she wrote a contemporary cowboy or sweet romance, I wouldn’t read it.

    I think YA is a completely different issue. Many readers won’t read YA and don’t like young protagonists, so even if you are writing in the same genre, like fantasy, some readers won’t follow you from adult to YA.

  • I started off wanting to write Private Investigator mysteries, but I had a bruising ride with some beta readers on my first mystery. So, on a lark, I wrote a zombie novella, and then followed it up by writing 13 more zombie novels and 12 zombie short stories. So, you tell I that deiced to create a brand. I believe it’s helped me sell books.

    That said, I’ve dabbled with a thriller in a collaboration which was supposed to become a series, but my collaborator bailed on me.

    In the long run, I have plans to diversify into more post-apocalyptic fiction and maybe even thrillers. For now, I want build up my backlist to provide a steady income from it.

  • I like Chris’ comment about diversification. But I think I will take Warren Buffet’s take on it. Put all your eggs into one basket and watch the basket closely.

    Then again, like most authors I like reading a lot of different genres. I think letting myself experiment will be a good way of figuring out which one I like writing in most. Like most first time authors I am working on that first book that has been kicking around in my head since I was thinking of writing a book. Once this is done I am definitely going to pick my head up and see what else interests me or if I want to double down and keep working in this genre.

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