Writing and Publishing

Stay Within Your Genre: The Importance of Consistency

Although I resisted it for months, I recently immersed myself in a Young Adult book, a romance, no less: Ditched: A Love Story, by Robin Mellom. I poured over it with can’t-put-it-down abandon. I read it in two days.

When I finished reading it, the next thing I did was read it again. I enjoyed it that much.

After the second time, I went to Amazon to buy her next book. Alas, she has none – at least not any YA books. She does have a couple of middle-grade/junior books, but as much as I like her writing style and voice, I couldn’t force myself to buy a book written for a nine-year-old.

She found a fan in me—and then had nothing more to offer.

Then I finally understood why people in the know, tell writers to “stay within your genre.” If you write period romance, then write only period romance—that’s what your audience expects. If you write crime novels, write only crime novels. Would you buy a romance with John Grisham? No. Or sci-fi by Dick Francis? No, even if it had a horse in it, it wouldn’t work.

I never understood why I couldn’t make a career by writing non-fiction and speculative fiction and devotionals and children’s books and memoirs and even poetry. It might be fun for me but would leave my audience confused and my career would fail to gain traction.

Now I understand why I can’t do that. I still don’t like it, but I do comprehend it.

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Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

8 replies on “Stay Within Your Genre: The Importance of Consistency”

I’m struggling with you. When the gurus ask “Could you write about your niche every day?” I had to ask myself if it was possible. A new writer’s struggle, no doubt.

Science Fiction or speculative fiction can span most genres so that’s where I am. From YA to younger or older I kind of go by the saying my dad have said about watching TV, “If it’s not fit for them it’s not fit for you.” I believe the child that wants to read will learn the big words, but the subject matter doesn’t have to be how to buy a car, rather what they can do to buy the puppy in the window.

Hope this isn’t inappropriate to comment, but I wanted to tell you how much you just made my night. I love that you read DITCHED twice!

In regards to staying within your genre…I totally agree. That was always my plan. But shortly after selling DITCHED, my publisher became smitten with my middle grade idea. I had a big decision to make…start the middle grade series or stick with teen? (Not that this is a bad problem to have!) Ultimately, I decided to get this middle grade series off the ground and I’ve loved every minute of it. But the GOOD NEWS is that I have finished my next teen book and just turned it in to my editor. I’ll have an update on the release date soon. It’s called BUSTED and it’s another crazy romp of a rom-com. I adored writing it!

But I must warn you…I also recently sold a picture book series. I’m all over the place! Haha!

Thanks again for the kind words about my book. Truly.

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