Locked in?

angst, genre fiction, mixed genre, publishing, writing life August 9, 2011

Okay, so I’m not actually locked in to anything. Sometimes I wish someone would give me a time-out in a locked room, but I’ve had no luck with that one yet.

Someone? Anyone? Can I have a time-out?


Anyway, I have a question today for the writers that might be reading, particularly those that have published in more than one genre.

If you publish in one genre, are you locked into that genre?

For example, my thesis novel is a cozy mystery. I know the cozy market is bleeding from its eyes and the chances of me publishing my thesis without some sort of revision (I’m thinking of adding paranormal elements) is slim, but if, by some miracle, I do get it published, how locked into the subgenre is my name?

I know an easy fix to this problem is a pseudonym, but let’s just say I don’t want to use one. How much slack are readers will to give a writer who writes across genre or blends genres? The zombie story I’m working on now is a mystery, in a way, but with horror elements. Would it be in my best interests to use a pseudonym for one or the other?

What’s your experience?


Tattooed writer with an attitude seeks like minded people who appreciate snark and ink. Or snarky ink.

Comments 2

  1. Scott A. Johnson says on August 9, 2011

    You’re never locked in. You write what you write, and let the agents and editors fight over what category it fits. And, as someone who’s read your last three pieces, I think your voice is good, and you shouldn’t worry about where they “fit.” Just my opinion.

  2. Charlie Krone on the Slide Trombone says on August 9, 2011

    Musicians carry the same burden. My former band played a funkified version of Ska but for the sake of marketing stuck with the Ska moniker. They had a devoted following in the US and elsewhere, but had recognized that they were shackled from any further success by the limitations of Ska. They tried to branch out into pop/punk with a light peppering of rap. Seriously. It was the whole Limp Bizkit era… they were looking for something somewhere in between Fred Durst and Green Day.

    They gained a new following and completely alienated their base.

    My advice to any and all artists is to do what feels good. It is important to pay attention to your readers, to negotiate with editors/publishers, but to completely ignore critics. Sorry, Nikki – I know that you do book reviews, but I feel that any artist who pays too much attention to print reviews will quickly lose their sense of self.

    Dmitri Shostakovich wrote his fifth symphony as a direct response to his fourth symphony being panned by the Soviet music community. He subtitled it, “A composer’s response to just criticism.” It breaks my heart on two levels. First, that he felt he had to “respond”. Second, that I like it so much. I didn’t say that this example would illustrate my point! It is a brilliant work if you’ve never heard it. (The pathos of the third movement is his thumbing of the nose at the critics, so I suppose there is a small illustration of my point.) Screw you! I’m going to be introspective, CCCP bedamned!

    Karl was my favorite Marx brother. My one-liner for the day.

    I am not going to edit this, but I think in just a few short paragraphs I managed to wander away from the topic. Bah… I have to work. Keep me thinking, Nikki. I am following you pretty religiously these days (and I know you appreciate the irony of that last sentence).

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