Thursday, March 01, 2012

Crossing Over

Like everyone else, I was excited to read last week that J.K. Rowling plans to release a new book. While specifics are not known right now, we do know it's aimed for an adult audience. Arguably, this is no big deal for Rowling as Harry Potter readers span generations and many of her younger readers are now reading more mature material.

But what about an author on a different success level than Rowling (let's face it, she's on a whole another level than most)? I recall a few well-known authors changing genres, but I do not recall it being successful. Can any writer find success crossing over after buildings a readership in another genre? (Mind you, by publishing under the same name. Pen names are a whole different ball game.) Or is their fate sealed with one genre?

7 comments:

Chris Bailey said...

That's such a good question. One big name author who comes to mind is John Grisham. Legal thrillers, yes. Mainstream, not so much. I can't say whether it was the quality of the writing or the demands of the fans, but I don't think he did as well with the mainstream attempt.

On the other hand, I've enjoyed Ken Follett's contemporary international thrillers as well as his historical fiction.

I can't think of a lesser known success. I can think of occasions when I picked up a less-well-known author's work not expecting a genre switch and put the book down.

Maybe it truly comes down to storytelling mastery.

Lexi said...

It is an interesting question. Most of us have more than one story (and genre!) in us, but we are encouraged to build name recognition and a brand under one trope. I don't know the answer!

Kat said...

Chris, his name definitely came to mind for me too! I haven't tried Ken Follett, but will check him out.

There is certainly something to be said for a good storyteller.

Kat said...

I agree Lexi! Most do have more than one story type swimming around upstairs. And branding is such a huge focus - seems like a catch 22 of sorts.

Louisa Cornell said...

I love to read all sorts of genres, but I don't know if I could ever write anything other than Regency. I spend so much time in the contemporary world and my old-fashioned heart is disenchanted with a great deal of it. I don't know that I could immerse myself in the worlds of other genres comfortably enough to write. Yes, I am an old dinosaur stuck in the primordial mud. But I DO admire people who can write well in more than one genre.

Carla Swafford said...

I don't have a problem reading different genres from the same author (Anne Stuart - historial and romantic suspense) and that's as long as they're up front with it. That is, when I read the book, I know it's a historical or contemporary.

There is one author who has a series of fighters (extreme). I had always wanted to give them a try and picked up one (not the first). It turned out to be sci-fi. All the others are not. Just that one. Nothing in the blurb (still doesn't) said they went to another planet. The book was okay, I was just mad because 1st I would've never bought it (I don't normally read sci-fi) and 2nd they hid it. I've gone on and read others of hers and enjoyed them. Mainly because I know what's inside (contemporary romantic suspense).

Suzanne Johnson said...

This is a great question. From the reader's standpoint, I think the value of different genres under different names makes sense--so if you're expecting romance and get sci fi, the reader can be confused. From an author's standpoint, having a single platform is huge. I've spent a lot of time and money trying to build my platform for urban fantasy; now that I have paranormal romance coming out under a different name, I'm at a loss as to finding the time and energy to start over building a new brand and maintaining two brands at once.