To hop or not to hop?

Most mainstream authors tend to stick to one genre. Sometimes because that’s what they’re good at (and want to write) but also because the big publishing houses like things neatly packaged and pigeonholed.

There are some authors who ‘genre hop’. Margaret Atwood has written all kinds of stories. Iain Banks writes both mainstream fiction and sci-fi epics – although he does add his middle initial ‘M’ to let readers know when they’re going off into space.

Shall I go in a straight line or hop where I please?

Generally though, writers stick to one genre. You don’t pick up a Patricia Cornwell and expect historical romance or buy a Bernard Cornwell and find yourself with a murder mystery.

As a reader though, I genre hop all the time. I enjoy crime and thrillers but also general contemporary fiction, history, fantasy, teen and young adult books, the occasional classic etc.

So, what’s an independent author to do? The three novels I’ve published so far on Kindle are all set in contemporary Britain and have a crime/mystery element to them. Two involve young boys and deal (in different ways) with the adventure called childhood.

However, I’m currently working on a rewrite of an older novel. Pagan’s Sphinx is an archaeological thriller set in North Africa. It’s written in the first person (unlike all my other books) and is in many ways a much more straightforward adventure ‘yarn’.

But am I likely to confuse or alienate those who’ve enjoyed my other books? Will new readers who start with Pagan’s Sphinx be disappointed when they find out the others are different? Or will I attract a wider readership and (hopefully) demonstrate my versatility by tackling different genres?

One option is to publish under a different name. Or is it just a case of making sure the ‘blurbs’ inform readers what they’re getting? Do I hop or not?

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3 responses to “To hop or not to hop?”

  1. Fay Moore says :

    I’m curious about this dilemma, too. Traditionally published authors do use different names, even if, as you pointed out, it is as subtle a change as adding a middle initial, to differentiate between genres.

    Right now, I write all over the place, trying to find my niche.

    • Huw Thomas says :

      I guess the only answer is going to be try it and see. After the adventure novel, I could always try the first book I wrote – that was a sci-fi epic.
      If I put them all out under the same name and get angry reviews then I’ll know it was a mistake!

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  1. Atlantis And The Sphinx « Huw Thomas - September 29, 2012

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