The Genre Juggle
When you get to a fork in the road, take it.
That about sums up my decision making process lately. Most authors do a lot of genre hopping with their first books, usually the unpublished ones. That’s fine. We’re learning how to write with those first five or six novels. A little game of musical genres is good for skill building.
But then we get to this place where we’re ready to put our books on the market. My first, Camp Dogs, will hit Amazon in November, God willing and my beta readers don’t trash it. The problem is, Camp Dogs is technically an adult novel. My protagonist is a forty-three year old Wall Street executive on the run from the feds after the final collapse of the U.S. economy.
All fun and games, right? Until your humble author introduces a teenage character, Juli Knox, who he enjoys so much that he decides to shift his career into Young Adult and Middle Grade novels.
Camp Dogs is undergoing the editing rounds right now. By the end of the week, I’ll finish the first draft of Now I Knew You, a YA contemporay. At that point, I begin my first Middle Grade, Scorpion Summer, a historical novel (not too historical–1968).
In the meantime, back at the ranch, my partner and I have launched a four year project, #AngelWarz, a Middle Grade Urban Fantasy. It is with this episodic novel, delivered free, that we hope to build our newsletter subscription base. A base of Middle Grade Urban Fantasy fans.
What’s an author to do going forward?
Using my powers of logic and coin-flipping, I decided to continue the series spawned from Camp Dogs, but pushing sixteen year-old Juli Knox into the role of protagonist. She will become, more or less, the Laura Croft of the new American Wild West. She’ll battle drug cartels, gangs, and general baddies trying to take over America in the wake of total economic collapse. Supernatural influences? You’ll have to wait and see.
I can knock out the first two books of the Juli Knox series in six months. I’ve already proven I can finish a draft every sixty days, so I’m fairly confident. That should give me an indication as to whether or not the series will get legs.
I’ve also got a Middle Grade series in mind. One involving time travel and the End Times. I can squeeze those in between Juli Knox releases beginning sometime next year.
By next June, Gina and I will have the first season of #AngelWarz wrapped up, which we will package and sell as the first of four novels in that series.
A lot of work? Yes, it is. That’s how we make a living in this business. If you want to self-publish, no one is going to help you make decisions or give you deadlines. When you’re just beginning, you kind of have to cast a few genres and see which one gets the biggest nibble. Mind you, my genres aren’t far apart on the spectrum, but the readers who love Scorpion Summer, the story of a young boy’s coming of age after losing his father in the sinking of the U.S. Navy sub USS Scorpion in 1968, may not be the same readers who want to see Juli Knox kick butt against a Mad Max style biker gang in north Texas.
But they might.
The beauty of self-publishing is that you’re not restricted to one genre. The danger is taking advantage of that. Building a following is hard, hard work. Gina and I celebrate every time one person signs up for the #AngelWarz newsletter. I, for one, will require a lot of convincing to give up on ten-thousand subscribers chomping at the bit for another Middle Grade Urban Fantasy just to satisfy my lifelong desire to pen an Amish Romance.
Yes, we have freedom. But the smart writer listens to his readers. After all, they’re the real boss.
So what about you? Are you struggling with genre? How are you testing the waters to find your readers?