When you’re choosing a new book to read, what genres do you find yourself exploring? Do you stick primarily to one, or do you branch out?
I encountered the titled question in the newsletter of my friend and fellow author, Al Macy, and my first thought was I hadn’t considered genre hopping “dirty” before. I do tend to get cozy in my few favorites, and to be honest, there are some genres I hadn’t read before becoming a writer and reading them for other writers.
But have you considered how many genres there are?
This isn’t even all of them. That graphic came from this article on Writer’s Write, which lists 17 popular genres, many being “sub-genres”. Included on the list are Young Adult and New Adult, which I don’t think are genres as much as targeted age groups (you can have a Young Adult historical fantasy, for example).
Looking at just this graphic, I would be most happy to read anything in the blue boxes (both shades), a few in the green boxes, and one of the yellow boxes. I don’t typically read romance, but I enjoy a good romantic subplot.
(Side note: If you catch me reading a Western Romance, I’ve been kidnapped and am signaling for help).
(Second side note: Al Macy, the author I mentioned at the beginning of the post, writes in the blue and green boxes. Probably why we get along).
So I’d say as a reader, I’m a comfortable genre hopper within favorite genres.
Now, as a writer, things get trickier, because we aren’t really “supposed” to genre hop, mostly for marketing reasons–if readers know you as Fantasy Author, they won’t find you as Mystery Author, as the argument goes. Though genre hopping can be done. This author uses a pen name for her second genre. This one made the jump from YA to adult mid-career (though again, I’m not sure those are genres). This one argues that because tastes change and the Great Authors jump genres, we should feel free to as well (these two points I agree with).
It’s no coincidence that I genre hop as a writer in the same ways I do as a reader. But as a writer, I get to purposefully weave other genre elements into my books.
My mystery novel has soft sci-fi elements.
My suspense novel has spec-fic elements.
My YA mystery/suspense trilogy is sc-fi based.
My YA urban fantasy is set in a dystopian world.
And they all have at least a little romance, some with enough to drive the plot.
I can’t say for certain if my inability to pick a genre and stick to it hurts sales and/or inhibits the growth of my readership. I can say for certain that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing each book, and readers have told me they enjoyed reading them all as well.
I guess they’re all dirty genre hoppers too.
What about you? Are you a genre hopper or a genre loyalist? Where are your genre happy places?