Friday, January 04, 2019

Writing: Changing Genres

Most folks feel, I guess, that once a writer is picked up by a publishing house, they have it made. A look at my own publishing history shows that this doesn't always work out. As in sports, the business world, and just about anything else, the key phrase is, "What have you done for me lately?"

Even if a writer has a certain amount of success (I have twelve novels and five novellas to my credit), there's always the trepidation that comes by changing genres. An author has built up a following by writing the same type of novels over the years, but there's that itch every once in a while to do something a bit different. If you do it, will your fans stick with you, or will this turn them off? Even if you--as I have--decide to break away from traditional publishing houses and publish independently, you worry about this phenomenon.

Some of you may recall the story of how I was signed by my agent, Rachelle Gardner. That first line with which I won her contest has lived on my computer for many years now. I've developed a story around it, and the more I refined it, the better I liked it. But I kept hearing the caution, "This doesn't read like a Richard Mabry story." I've rejected publishing it under a pseudonym--if I'm going to fail, let me fail under my own name. It's still medical, there's still an element of mystery, but there's no romance. Instead, it deals with three people (a female physician, a doctor who's entered the pastorate, and a man who heals people at his services) and how their lives change and become intertwined.

So what's your opinion? Which is more important--the author or the genre? Is an author taking too big a chance when he/she goes a bit outside the genre they're identified with? I'd truly like to know.

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7 comments:

Priscilla said...

Genre is more important. HOWEVER, the story you describe seems to fit right in with your other stories. Mystery, suspense, Christian, medical . . . those are the main things people encounter when reading a Richard Mabry book. Wouldn't you agree that romance is a common B story in your books and not a prominent plot?

Betti said...

I think genre is important, but who the author is also is important. This particular scenario that you mention really doesn't deviate far from the other books you have written, so I wouldn't see a problem and would certainly look for the book. I guess I'm thinking if you were suddenly writing historical books, I might wonder, but not if they were historical medical fiction... :)

Richard Mabry said...

Priscilla and Betti, thanks for your comments. I guess the book wasn't as far off as I thought. (And, yes, Priscilla--when I had a phone interview with a publisher, they voted that my work was usually more medical suspense than romance).

Lora D said...

Actually, the author is most important to me. If I really like an author, I will definitely read their books, even if they are in other genres. There are so many badly written books today that if an author has passed my tests of high-quality writing (both technically and that their writing is captivating), great plots and characters, enjoyable reading through the whole book, and satisfying endings, I will read whatever they write (unless their new writing disappoints me). Also, I'm intrigued by your book's plot--go for it! :-)

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Lora. I appreciate your chiming in.

Vera Godley said...

To me, the specific genre is not as important as the type of writing. By type, I mean Christian fiction as opposed to "secular" fiction. Cross over authors confuse me because when I read a work by a Christian author, I truly expect that author to hold to tenents of the Christian faith, and when they cross over and write (whether under the same name or a pseudo) fiction that is rife with scenes and language unfitting a Christian, I frankly am so doubtful of them that I write them off.

Vannetta Chapman wrote Amish fiction and I truly loved it. She wrote a series of dystopian novels and I truly loved them. A change in genre. Not a change that causes me concern. (I love her writing). The same with Nanch Mehl - Amish or Mennonite community novels and now a series of contemporary suspense without the Amish or Mennonite community flavor. All Christian. All good writing.

So Dr. Mabry, I am truly looking forward to seeing what you are going to bring to the genere buffet for us. I am sorry to have missed the last couple of your books to read/review. Perhaps in the near future there will be a Mabry book in my hands.

Richard Mabry said...

Vera, thanks for casting your vote on this one. And to put your mind at ease, this one would certainly be considered Christian fiction. I guess I'm going to have to put it out there, and let the chips fall where they may.