There seems to be some pressure out there from literary agents, publishers, readers, and even other authors to stick with one genre. The reason is that it could possibly confuse or frustrate your book following if you publish a young adult fantasy book one year, and then a modern drama the next year.
No doubt, some people will expect certain things from their favourite writers. But I don’t think that staying with one genre is as important as some writers may think.
Do you know why?
Voice matters more than genre.
Most people enjoy books because they can identify with the characters and their struggles. An interesting plot is important, of course, but voice is the most essential component to any story.
A writer’s brand is their voice. Every one has their own unique writing style and message that they want to convey in their pieces. New writers may still need to find out what that is, and your voice becomes stronger the more you practice your craft. Your readership is going to follow you mostly because they can relate to your voice. This transcends genre. What they will care more about is the fact that you keep writing books for them to read.
Personally, I am a genre jumper. I have written young adult fantasy, dark fantasy, historical fiction, thrillers/horror, and drama works. But what a lot of people tell me is that every book I write has this certain feel to it, a certain otherworldly sense that they feel with nearly everything that I write. My mind is a little on the chaotic side, and it would drive me crazy (Well, more crazy) to limit myself to just one genre. Even one book can be classified under more than one category. But this world is obsessed with labels, and hence, this can lead to some insecurity for writers. Focusing on genre could be a detriment to the writing process. Anything that is an art should not be put inside of a box. It will become stale. It will seem forced, or simply boring.
As a writer, what you need to do is find what it is you want to write about. What is the purpose of your book? What is it that you want to show to your readers?
Write the story that has been burning inside of you, and worry about the genre later. If your second and third books are totally different genres from your first, then so be it. Don’t worry about what people will say.
There is another reason why genre jumping can help your success as a writer more than hurt you. You will grow as an author if you push new boundaries and allow yourself to write without borders. Writing is your passion. It is supposed to be fun!
Do not waste time reading up on the trends or sifting through article after article about what this agent and that agent is looking for. When you write from the heart, without any inhibitions, your voice will come through. Good readers will weed out the books that have been written with soul and direction.
Most of your readers will understand if your books do not follow a certain code, and you will gain a new audience if you transcend into another genre, expanding your readership.
Simply put, write what you want to write. When you enjoy what you have written, then more people are going to enjoy reading what you have written.