A long time ago someone told me that if I started as a fantasy author, I would always be a fantasy author. It was stressed that I had to pick one field to master and then go with it, limiting myself to that field.
Being the young, easily swayed person I was back then, I believed them … for about a minute and a half.
My current list of titles includes science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. While it could be argued that science fiction and fantasy are the same genres (they’re often in the same section of a bookstore) we’re going to go ahead and draw a big dividing line between them.
I’m sorry, but science fiction is NOT fantasy. Some books might cross the borders between the two, but when push comes to shove you know the difference when you’re reading them.
So it’s safe to say that I dabble in several different genres at this point.
Now, the argument still stands that if you stick with one genre you will eventually “master” it. I use the word “master” lightly because writing is a craft that very few people
master. We all just work hard at pretending like we’ve got it down.
What I mean by “master” in this situation is that you will have written so many that you’ve trained your writing brain to create new and enticing material precisely because you have written so much of it. Your mind stretches harder for newer, fresher plot twists and characters and worlds because you’ve already used many of the tropes before.
However, the same can be said even if you cross genre borders. Just because I used a trick in a fantasy novel does not make it free to use in one of my science fiction books. So I still end up stretching my creativity in any given book and that “mastery” is still being developed.
Now then …
There is the issue of “brand.”
If you’ve been in this business for any amount of time, you’ve heard that an author has to have a particular “brand” to sell. James Patterson sells fast-paced thrillers and mysteries. Stephen King sells intricate horror stories. Jennifer Crusie sells quirky romances.
How then, do you have a “brand” when you sell books in different genres? I addressed the issue of a brand in another blog post but didn’t really answer how I meant to brand myself.
I have admitted to being awful about marketing. It feels so pretentious to wave my books around. My marketing tends to sound more like; “Hey! I wrote this book and I think it’s kinda decent so maybe you could read it? Maybe? I mean, only if you want to. Or if you have the time. Or … whatever.”
Super wimpy, I know. My only defense is that I’d rather be writing.
You know … “mastering” my craft. Trying to get better.
Trying to tell a good story. The sort of story that will hit you in the gut and stick with you for a while. The kind that challenges your point of view and makes you think about how other people live and how you might be able to help those who need it.
I want positive relevance with my books.
For the record, I actually had to hunt for what I wanted my books to be and pinpoint why it is I bother with all the work writing is to figure this out. But in the end, once I had answered the question of “why do I write?” I was able to find my so-called brand.
“Positive Relevance” is what I’m striving for here and what I want my books to represent and be. So … I believe that is what my brand is. And it should reach across all genres that I write in.