Genre hopping is a great way to introduce yourself and your writing style to a new audience.
If it is done incorrectly, it is a lot like a bad first impression. It will taint your future ventures and efforts with the audience.
I would know. When I first tried genre-hopping, I made a big mistake. I came into the genre knowing a little bit about it, but not understanding why it was that the readers of that genre loved it so much. To be honest, I thought most of the writing was garbage and I was going to “fix” that problem in MY book. They seemed to do too much telling and not enough showing, in my opinion.
I waded into those waters without taking the time to understand why the books were structured the way that they were and what it was about that structure that readers loved so much.
The result was not surprising: 1-3 stars from every reviewer. I made them angry because I’d trashed what they loved most about that genre because I didn’t understand what drove them to buy that genre in the first place.
I’ve learned a lot since then. I offer this advice to you so that you do not have to make the same mistake I did and can benefit from my experience in genre-hopping.
1. Respect Your Readers
Imagine that genres are like flavors of ice cream. Everyone has a favorite. You know what taste you expect to receive when you buy a carton of that ice cream.
If someone puts something into that carton that doesn’t match the flavor you’re expecting, you’re going to be disgusted and angry. It won’t matter how good the content is. It’s not what you wanted or expected. You’re going to reject it and be upset about being sold something you didn’t receive. And rightfully so.
When you step into a new genre, you need to respect the readers of that genre. Take your time and get to know them. Know why they love the genre and what gets them excited about reading it.
Fans of a genre are typically fanatics of it (Hence the word fan; it comes from fanatic). They will read a ton of books by an author who respects—and delivers—what they love most about that genre.
Read through reviews of the books that have reviews that are very low—1 and 2 and 3 stars. Find out where the criticisms are. What did the writer get wrong? Why is it so poorly received?
Then read through reviews of the books that are best sellers. What are readers saying that they love most about the books? What makes it so well-received?
2. Know the Rules Before You Break Them
It’s okay to break the rules of a genre when writing, but before you do you need to not only know what the rule is but also why it is that way.
For example, there’s a rule in romance: you must deliver either a happily-ever-after by the end of the book or a happily-together-for-now. Otherwise, it doesn’t qualify as a romance.
If you’re going to break that rule, you need to understand why readers want to see that ending, so you can deliver something that still gives them the results they want, like the satisfaction of having their hope that love can triumph over every obstacle reaffirmed, but with an unexpected twist.
3. Read at Least 10 Best Sellers in the Genre before Writing in It
Before you wade into a new genre, immerse yourself in the best of the best. Read at least 10 best sellers so you start to get a feel for how the genre is done when it’s done right. Make a note of the pacing, the structure, the delivery, and where the major plot points are.
The goal here, though, is not to read only one author but to be sure that you choose books by as many different authors as you can so that you get a broad view of what is accepted in the genre and well-received by the readers and what is not.
4. Pick Your Favorite and Deconstruct It
Out of the best seller, you spent your time reading, pick the one you like the most. Now, break it down into an outline. What would you change about the order? What would you like to have seen done differently that would still respect the rules for the genre?
5. Use Beta Readers Who Love the Genre
When you think you’ve finished the book and you believe you have delivered a story that will delight the readers of that genre, get yourself some beta readers who not only know that genre but who are fans of it. Ask them to read it without letting them know the details of the story.
Give them 5 questions to answer:
- How well did it meet your expectations for the genre?
- What did the book include that you wish it had not?
- What did the book fail to include that you wish it had?
- Were there any areas where the plot became confusing or hard to follow?
- Were there any areas where the pacing of the plot was too slow or too fast?
Tell us in the comments: Have you ever experimented with genre-hopping?
International speaker and award-winning author Brandy M. Miller has been coaching & consulting writers since she published her first book in 2013. She has over 13 published titles on Amazon and has worked with dozens of authors over the years to help them write, edit, publish, market, and sell their books. Connect with her online at writeyourbook.today or on LinkedIn at https://linkedin/in/brandymmiller or on Twitter: @WriterBrandy.
Wilnona is an Advocate Awarded poet known for her quick wit, ability to laugh at herself, and being a pop poet. She has contributed writings to eleven books or what she calls” literary life guides w/ pop poetry”: The And I Thought Series & The Miss-Fit Guides. Wilnona is a Co-Founder of The Inspirational Women in Literature Media and Journalism Awards, The Thoughtful Book Festival & Awards, the 25 Hottest Authors Magazine & And I Thought Literary Magazine. She co-hosts several podcasts including The Ladies Tales podcast. This is the most inventive podcast to date. Annually she tours the US and UK. Want to learn more? Check out the books she has written and co-authored here: http://www.andwethought.com/books.html