Is One Genre Enough? by Melissa Pearl

Author Melissa Pearl
Author Melissa Pearl

Ever since I was a child, my head has been buzzing with stories. I couldn’t help it. No matter where I was, no matter what I was doing, I always had characters jumping around the back of my mind, getting in to trouble, falling in love, fighting their way to freedom. It was fun and to be honest, got me through some tough times. The imagination is a magical thing. I don’t know where I’d be without mine.

Now that we’ve all established I’m just a little crazy 🙂 I’ll get to my point.

With new stories arriving in my brain on a constant basis, it is really hard to narrow myself to one genre. I know they say you should build your platform so as not to confuse your readers, but are we underestimating our readers by doing this?

I get it. I have certain expectations when I reach for particular authors, but those expectations are not always based on specific genre. I like authors that can write a decent love story, include a ton of conflict and give me enough emotion and tension that my knuckles are turning just a little white and my eyes are slightly rounder than normal.

As a reader, I like experimenting with different genres, so as a writer, should I be allowed to do the same thing without having to write under a pen name? If I can guarantee that my readers will always get a story with certain elements, like the ones I listed above, then shouldn’t that be enough?

I am fascinated to see what other people think, because I am standing on that line right now, deciding what to do. The last book of my Time Spirit Trilogy is due for release February 16, 2012. This trilogy is a YA paranormal romance packed full of fast paced action, a ton of kissing and enough teen angst to keep readers interested… hopefully.

The next book that I want to release later this year is another YA, but it is not paranormal. It is an action/thriller romance packed full of fast paced action, a ton of kissing and enough teen angst to keep readers interested… hopefully.

I do worry that the people who enjoyed my trilogy will be disappointed that I am not sticking with the paranormal genre, but like I said earlier, with so many stories coming at me, I don’t want to be restricted to only writing paranormal.

Fred Limberg’s guest post (excellent post by the way) talked about experimenting with different genres and discovering what your fans want that way. I guess that is the beauty of self-publishing. We have the freedom to do this. This is our chance to change the rules just a little bit and see if readers will follow us.

I could be making a huge mistake by releasing in a slightly different genre, but I think it is a risk worth taking. If it’s an epic fail, then I guess I’ll just jump back on the paranormal wagon and stick with that for a while. I’m actually in the planning stages of another paranormal, so my readers won’t have to wait too long.

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Melissa Pearl was born in Auckland, New Zealand, but has spent much of her life abroad, living in countries such as Jordan, Cyprus and Pakistan… not to mention a nine month road trip around North America with her husband. She is now back in NZ and lives with her husband and two sons. She is a trained elementary teacher, but writing is her passion. Since becoming a full time mother she has had the opportunity to pursue this dream and her debut novel hit the internet in November, 2011. She loves learning about the craft of writing and endeavours to make each new book better than the last.  You can find her Time Spirit Trilogy on Smashwords and, and you can find out more about Melissa at her blog.[subscribe2]


Author: Melissa Pearl

Melissa Pearl is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of multiple novels spanning a variety of genres, from YA fantasy and paranormal to romantic suspense, including award-winning novel, BETWIXT. For more on Melissa, visit her blog or her Amazon author page.

47 thoughts on “Is One Genre Enough? by Melissa Pearl”

  1. I currently write 3 genres under my name. Oops. 4. LOL. When I try my hand at horror I'll do that under a pseudonym, only because I write children's books and I'm concerned some folks won't be able to "appreciate" that I can write something freaky and not try to corrupt their children. 🙂

    1. I agree. I think if you're going to write something that is totally different to what you are doing, a pseudonym is a good idea. If I ever write any adult stories as opposed to young adult, I will probably use a different name. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. I try not to think of my genre as my platform, but the purpose of my writing, which is to smash stereotypes and expectations. I do this in a variety of genres though there is normally a touch of the supernatural and plenty of humour. I love fantasy, but I don't want to write it all the time. Sometimes I have great ideas for SF or Horror or a contemporary drama with a twist. I think if readers turn to indie writers it shows that they are bored of the normal stuff that traditional publishing houses offer, right? It's our job to be different.

    1. I love that statement – "It's our job to be different."

      I really love being an indie author for that reason. We can make our own rules to some degree and as long as our writing is consistently good then hopefully our readers won't mind a change in genre.

      Thanks so much for sharing, Matthew 🙂

      1. It's a pleasure. It's scary being indie, because we are swimming in the deep shark infested waters with no life jacket, so of course there is temptation to do things as the mainstream do, but we shouldn't give in to panic. I may change genres and other things but there are two key points I will always stick to.

        1. I'll always charge enough money for my work to keep my self respect and pay my overheads.

        2. I'll write whatever the hell I want to!

        1. LOL. I really like your attitude. It's refreshing and fantastic 🙂

          I think I sometimes worry that I'll never make a dime, but then I get an excellent review and I realize the real reason I write is because I love gifting people that escape from reality. There's nothing better than burying your head in a good book.

          I just need my stuff to viral – right?


          1. In order to make money, you have to accept you aren't going to. Then in 10 years or so when you have dozens of books out and a healthy bank account you'll look back at this comment and realise I was speaking crap. Don't worry, I wasn't doing it to fool you. I was doing it to fool the universe. It never gives you exactly what you want so you have to trick it.

            I didn't want to be old by the time I was successful, but that's what is happening. So I just accept it, and write, and I'm confident I'll be a success because I know I have talent and a unique voice. I just need people to find me. No one can predict what will go viral, but you just get your stuff out there and it increases the chances.

  3. If I'm a fan of a writer — or a singer — I'll branch out with him or her, because there's trust there. I don't always like the branch, but that's not disappointment, it's just taste. The only times I've been truly disappointed with writers I liked were when they kept writing the same book over and over to "satisfy their fans", but I could tell there was no heart in it any more.

    1. I so agree. I have given up on author's before because I feel like I'm reading the same story with different character names. It's almost like the longer the write, the more they can get away with.

      On the other hand, I have followed some authors all the way through because they've kept entertaining me with good stories that are compelling and enjoyable. That's the kind of writer I want to be.

  4. Being a YA Author and knowing many…I have found that the best way to stay fresh is to move around a little in the genre world. This is of course, unless you are doing a series. I have seen things go both ways. I, personally, have way too many stories to tell to be married to only one genre!

    Love the Post!!!!!

    Mark Levine

  5. Hi Melissa,

    Crossing genres is good for a writer and good for the reader. Go for it!

    The only thing I've had to consider is that several people have told me, not asked, that a certain woman from my first novel needs to be in second of the series. People get attached to characters, and I guess that is a good thing.

    The first book is a sexy murder mystery, and now I'm on rewrites of a vampire/satire second draft. So, I'm doing exactly what you are! Isn't this fun? 🙂

    1. I love it. It's so fun to try out different things and I actually think it's really good for my writing. I think it keeps us from getting stale.

      I do agree about having characters reappearing in a series. As a reader, I get attached and I do like to find out what will happen to them.

  6. Great post Mel.

    I definitely agree with you that the great thing about Indie is that you can experiment a bit with genre. For me I have many types of stories within me, they have similar styles but are not necessarily all the same genre.

    I think readers are drawn to good writing and if you hooked them in one genre and they love your writing style, they will follow you to your next book even if it is a different genre. 🙂

    1. I agree, Kim. It comes down to the quality of the writing. Like I said, if authors can provide certain elements that you're looking for in a story, the genre shouldn't matter too much 🙂

  7. Great post, Melissa. I write in several genres and enjoy it. I think before indie publishing came on the scene it was difficult for authors to do this because it would probably mean they would need several publishers. But when you self-publish, there is no one to tell you they don't do that genre. It's you and you alone who make the decisions. I also think it helps to increase creativity and prevent boredom. When you get stuck in one genre, it can become a rut. Trying new things keeps you on your toes. And it probably keeps your readers on their toes as well.

      1. I think also that having books in different genres could help create several different groups of readers. If I write in only one, only certain people will read those books. But, technically speaking at least, we should be able to increase our readership, or hopefully even multiply it eventually, on that basis.

  8. I can so relate to this. I like to write about things I like to read, and that crosses several genres. I've never understood the urban legend that a writer should restrict him or herself to a single genre, and have ignored it. Thanks for a great article.

  9. As a reader, I find that an author can get stuck in a rut, so I would embrace an author's venture into different genres. John Grisham or Wilbur Smith spring to mind – I enjoy their books, but they are predictable. So I applaud you, Melissa, go for it!

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I know what you mean. I think it is way too easy to fall into the trap of writing the same thing over and over. I really want to avoid that if I can.

  10. Ah, we sound a lot alike. I'm published in 4 genres right now, and another will be out soon. It's fun, and like you, I have characters running through my head so much that it can become distracting. But I love what I do, and love the support I get from my fans. Not everything appeals to them, but if I can find something they like, and give it to them in a great story, that makes my day.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. I think when we make a reader fall in love with our characters and give them a great, emotional ride through a book, we are hitting the mark, no matter what the genre.

      I really like that you have managed to do this and keep such great support from your fans. That's awesome 🙂

  11. Wearing lots of genre hats has been fulfilling for me as an author, but it makes the first 10 seconds of marketing, of listen-or-leave introduction, more awkward. Consumers need either a tried and true label or a radically cool new hook that instantly grabs them. What's gonna cut through the clamor for the buyer's ever decreasing attention span? I've had a bear of a time coming up with an adequate 'umbrella description' that pulls together all the varied works in my own e-bookstore. And I am quite aware that an umbrella description is nowhere as effective as a great hook when fishing for readers! Good luck, Melissa.

    1. Thanks so much for your perspective, Russil. That's really good to know. I have been wondering about how to market this next book… and having a huge variety does make it harder to label yourself as a particular author.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  12. Good post! I don't think I could read or write in just one genre my entire life. I like fantasy, science, horror, and a bit of mystery and crime on the side. I'm working on three stories right now, one a fantasy, one a horror, one science-fantasy. I'm reading Tolkien, Piers Anthony, Alan Watts, and a book about rednecks fighting witches. Being all over the place is a lot of fun!

  13. I'm probably the last person on earth to ask for marketing advice, but it seems that this whole branding thing is THE thing … in our pop-culture world, you pretty much have one, 2D imagine and it confuses your audience when you become something else. Ergo, I would consider a pseudonym … but that's just me.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Christopher. Like I said in an earlier comment, I would consider a pen name if I started writing adult fiction instead of Young Adult fiction, but I'm hoping to swap genres within YA, if I can. Hopefully the readers won't mind too much. I do know it will make marketing harder though. But what's life without a few challenges 🙂

  14. One of my favs, Nora Roberts, uses J.D. Robb to write her "In Death" series. Everybody on the planet knows they are one in the same. She wrote Sanctuary–one of the scariest books I'd ever read at that point–as Nora Roberts who most think of as a romance writer. If it's good enough for her, it's good enough for me. I have a detective series and the sweetest little Scottish romance with such a subtle bit of mystery to it that you have a hard time deciding which it really is. OK, so I didn't switch entirely. Even my saga "100 Years of Brotherly Love" has both romance and mystery. But, I'm here to say, if my characters ever go into a heavy duty murder case with no love interest whatsoever–I'd go for it!

    1. I was actually thinking of Nora Roberts when I wrote this post. I really love her stuff, although some of her books I've started and not finished because they weren't really me. It doesn't mean that I stop reading her. I just find the genres she writes that I do enjoy… and there are plenty.

      1. Reading Sanctuary scared the tar out of me. Next thing I knew I was reading Lisa Jackson, Janet Evanovich (and laughing out loud the whole time), Tami Hoag, Patricia Cornwell…and so it began. Funny how a single book can change so much.

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