Tag Archives: Birthright

Why Genre Hopping is your best friend

27 May

Shannon, here, to announce our last guest blogger. That’s right. Our last. I will be back on May 29, but today is a wonderful day, because Ryan Attard – author of The Legacy Series – is sharing his thoughts on genre hopping, something we both feel very passionately about. Ryan has blogged on here before, so you might be familiar with him, but if you’re not, check out his website and podcast by clicking the links.

This is one of those subjects that gets a bad rep just for daring to go against the dogma, as established by . . . who knows who, and who knows where. Personally, I dislike rules and constraints of any sort – the reason I am an artist is because I wish to express myself in a free manner, and trying to limit art in any way shape or form makes that very difficult. After all most of what we consider rules are nothing more than guidelines that we misunderstood or took too literally.

Case in point is genre-hopping. For most old school authors this is a cardinal sin punishable by artistic death. I fail to see why. From a technical stand point it does make a shred of sense: if you’re just starting out and try writing fifteen different genres at one go your head will implode to the size of a jelly bean. Most likely you’ll end up with fifteen really good idea that are always ‘almost done’.

However I am addressing serious writers, ones who make a commitment (be it themselves or a slave driver – I mean, publisher) to finish their project. If you are that kind of writer then you and I have much to discuss. Genre hopping is your friend, but unlike marketing (who’s the jackass in the corner with the corny jokes) or editing (that anal guy who’s always correcting other), this guy is more like that erratic insane friend whom everyone keeps their distance from until you try engaging with him. And here’s why you should engage with this dude:

Anyone here ever get writer’s block? If your answer is yes, then join the club. Writer’s block is nothing more than your brain going “TAKE A FREAKIN’ BREAK, MAN!”

And how do you take breaks? You do something else, of course. See where I’m going with this? No?

Writing in multiple genres (let’s say 2 or 3, for kitten’s sakes; don’t overcompensate) means that when you get tired of writing, say, your urban fantasy novel, you can always go to your adventure thriller. You are still writing, so you are still productive – you’re just shifting focus. By way of an example I am going to use myself (and shamelessly plug myself in the process). When I was writing Birthright (coming to you in a few months) I was also writing Book 1 of the Pandora Chronicles (coming to you whenever my publisher decides to get a move on). If you’re of a similar mindset as myself, then you’ll easily get bored of the same old, same old. So switch it up – write something else.

And guess what? By the end of it all you won’t have ONE book but TWO. (That’s twice the fans and twice the money just in case you can’t get a hint.)

Now let’s talk marketing. Yeah, I said it: Marketing.

Don’t be afraid of it – it only looks evil. In reality marketing is what puts that story that you worked so hard for in your reader’s hands.

I’m going to get a little technical but stay with me. There are two types of growth in a business: vertical and horizontal.

Vertical growth is when you grow within a level – sort of like building an apartment complex. You get one apartment on top of the other. Horizontal growth is when you build the same ground floor but in different areas.

Let’s translate this into writing markets. Authors usually pick one market and write for that, i.e. JK Rowling is very famous on the fantasy genre for writing the Harry Potter series. That’s a perfect example of vertical growth.

It’s also the easiest in terms of branding. Think about it; it’s easy to establish yourself in one market if you are dedicating all your efforts to that one market. So you get Rowling with fantasy, Keri Arthur with fantasy romance, Rick Riodan with YA mythology-based urban fantasy and Clive Cussler with adventure thrillers. You genre becomes your branding and once this happens it’s nearly impossible to shift to another genre. How many of you can tell me the name of Rowling’s new book? I bet you had to look it up.

For most established (and old-school) writers, genre hopping after you’ve established yourself in a particular market is suicide. It’s like having HP Lovecraft write a historical romance about daisy-picking: that just won’t do (not unless something with teeth and tentacles was involved).

bdedebgfSo does this mean that horizontal growth is better? Not in the least. But it can be smarter if done at the right place, at the right time. Let’s take Jim Butcher as an example. Jim had just begun making a name for himself in the Urban Fantasy market when he released his epic-ish fantasy series. And in recent years, he also released a steampunk series. So why wasn’t the community in uproar? Because he timed it well. He established himself as a multi-genre author whilst growing vertically in his main market, allowing him to expand in multiple genres (markets) at the same time.

One of my favourite podcasts to listen to is the Self-Publishing Podcast. The three hosts, Sean Platt, Johnny B Truant and David Wright, are in full favour of genre-hopping and horizontal growth. According to them (and I fully agree) it wiser to build horizontally and then grow vertically rather than the other way round. To prove their point, they have multiple serials in multiple genres, and only in the past two years have they fully built each and every one of them. Now their library of titles is well over a dozen and that’s what you want as an author.

The idea of a one-hit wonder is not a viable career option. Writing professionally is a hard job: one that requires constant work at improvement and getting more titles out there.

Once again you have to be smart with genre-hopping. Writing in 4 different markets is not the best of ideas. Start with one, and then expand to an adjacent market. That way you get overlap value.

Let’s say you wrote a book for market 1 and later on wrote another book for market 2. When you decide to write another book for market 1, you won’t only get people from that market but also a few from market 2 who are just curious about your work. Those are your true fans.

In my opinion this is one of the best strategies you can use to sustain a long term career. Sure it’ll take you five years instead of two to fully stabilize your roots, but once you do, it’ll be very hard for you not to make it. If you’re concerned with name branding, just use a pen name of an abbreviation like Johanna Penn does. Same author, different pen name, different market; problem solved.

The worst thing that can happen to an established author is to finish their series and then sit on their ass twirling their thumbs. However, when you’ve spread your roots on a wide area, you can always wrap something up and move on to the next project.

After all a writer writes – period. Genre, word count, language – these are all frosting to a cake. So if it doesn’t matter, why bother with it? You’re a writer and an artist. Write what you want to write, in whichever way you want to write it, and power to ya, baby.

– Ryan Attard

My Wonderful, Amazing, and Talented Guest Bloggers

15 May

ShannonAThompson.com officially hit 16,000 followers! 

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These are purple periwinkles from http://www.democratdad.com. These little flowers will be symbolic in my upcoming novel, Take Me Tomorrow. This picture is also symbolic to how grateful I am to be continuing to grow with everyone. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for growing with me. And thank you for believing in me. My work is a piece of my soul, and I plan to share as many pieces as I can. These flowers show a sliver that will soon be exposed. Thank you for embracing it. You are as beautiful as how much these flowers mean to me. I also added an Extras page for all readers as a special “thank you.” I hope you enjoy checking it out as I release more information.

Over the next two weeks, I am signing out of ShannonAThompson.com. But don’t worry! I am not leaving without a plan. Six, wonderfully talented writers will be taking over ShannonAThompson.com to discuss writing and reading. The variety is great, and every post is entertaining – Seriously. I already read them ;] – and I hope you enjoy connecting with the writers as much as I have enjoyed knowing them.

Before I introduce them though, keep in mind that all announcements related to ShannonAThompson.com will be here – separated from the post at the top – and the announcements are written by me, and they are unrelated to the guest blogger. Here is one for today:

The Literary Syndicate interviewed me during a segment called “Papi Talk!” We discussed MANY topics I have never talked about before – including my intentions behind character and unfinished projects – but I also released my first excerpt from Take Me Tomorrow, so check it out by clicking here.

Now onto the introductions:

Below, I have included a schedule of guest bloggers you will be reading from for the next two weeks. My brother is getting married, and Shannon needs a little vacation (because she’s back to talking in the 3rd person.) That being said, these bloggers are fantastic writers, and every post relates to reading or writing (not to mention that every post is fantastic!) I’m not giving away the topics they are writing about, but I am introducing all of them today. Please visit their websites – you will both enjoy their work and connecting with them because every single one of them is a delight.

But here’s who you have to look forward to:

May 17: Pau’s Castles

Photo from Pau’s Castles

Photo from Pau’s Castles

Pau Castillo is from Pau’s Castles – you might recognize her from a few posts I’ve shared. Her book reviews are entertaining, informative, and – even more amazing – interactive. She really knows how to befriend her readers and captivate her audience.

From her website, Pau introduces herself: “My name is Pau and words are my best friends. I love discovering new things and posting about my life experiences in this site. Also, I love books. I love paranormal stuff. I love things that go beyond what’s normal. I’m a little weird, but I guess you’ll get used to it.

May 19: Misha Burnett

Misha Burnett is the author of Catskinner’s Book and Cannibal Hearts, science fiction/urban fantasy novels. Here’s an introduction from his website, “I am hideously excited and tremendously frustrated by the experience of being a self-published author.  There is so much I have learned since I first launched Catskinner into the world in July of 2012, and the more I learn the more I realize what I don’t know.”

Photo from Mishaburnett.wordpress.com

Photo from Mishaburnett.wordpress.com

May 21: Hanne Arts

Hanne Arts is a seventeen-year old budding writer, and she’s already spreading her name about in the publishing world. Last year, she got second place in a short story competition in Budapest, and she’s currently working on several pieces for publication. From her website, she states, “I started writing when I was about seven years old. I read a lot and am fascinated by interesting and original stories, which is why I decided to become one of the authors making those stories! I have not yet been published, but am hoping to do so in the near future.”

Hanne Arts

Hanne Arts

Ron Estrada

Ron Estrada

May 23: 8.187

8.187 is a website run by Ron Estrada. Writer, husband, dad, and contributor to @Todays_Author, Ron Estrada shares his short essays that “contemplate the order and clutter, thrust and drift of the human condition in this great, big, hopeful world.”

May 25: Jonas Lee’s Imaginarium

Jonas Lee, photo provided by Jonas Lee

Jonas Lee, photo provided by Jonas Lee

Written by Jonas Lee, this website centers on the importance of imagination and the discovery of creativity. Here is an excerpt from his website: “I live near the Black Hills in South Dakota (the States). I cannot stop eating peanut M & M’s to save my life or waistline if they are near me. I love to laugh, read new ideas, hang out with friends and enjoy things I’ve never experienced before. I have a strange addiction to watching DubStep Dancers on YouTube and I can shamefully quote almost every line from the movie Clue.”

May 27: Ryan Attard

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Ryan Attard

Ryan Attard, author of Firstborn and upcoming Birthright, has appeared on my website before. If you don’t know him, I hope you’ll take the time to check out his books (because laughter will ensue.) He is the host of the podcast – The Lurking Voice – and he also deemed me AEC’s Cognitive Operations Overlord. It’s safe to say that you are not safe at all when visiting his website, but you will have a good time.

Here’s an excerpt from his podcast: “The Lurking Voice is the journey of author Ryan Attard as he explores the world around him from an artistic perspective, including books, movies and music as well as the tropes of his craft. Expect reviews, funny commentary and the occasional rant.”

May 29

I am back – with Website Wonders and May’s Ketchup.

But until then, I hope you enjoy what these insightful writers have to say. I know I sure did.

~SAT

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