Today I'm bouncing off something I kinda, sorta half saw on the net. I didn't read enough of it to see what it was about, so I'm not linking to it. It just made me think of something I think is crucial to survival in this business.
You see, a person start off a question to a popular agent blog by referencing the crime novel they were shopping and the fantasy novel they were getting ready to write. Whatever their question was, I could immediately see where it might be leading - and what the answer generally is in these situations.
So here's my made-up scenario:
A writer finishes a novel with a realistic crime-centered story. What to write next? Their heart is leaning toward a fantasy novel next, but everything we've been told points to writing another crime novel. "Build a following" they say. Kinda hard to build a following when you're unpublished, but I do get the sentiment. If they love the first book and want to sign a contract to be your forever agent, they're going to want to see more of the same.
All well and good if more of the same is what's blowing your skirt up.
Personally, I write what makes me happy. And I think that's what has kept me sane after 9 years of doing this. My first couple books were in the same vein. My next book was totally different. And the next. Then I tried my hand at something else.
Looking back, it might not have been the best way to approach my career, but I love my books. I also love my writing. Slogging through book after book the same old way without getting any gratification would've killed that.
And, by the way, if writing the same genre again is what makes you happy, do that, too. I've heard the other side say that if one genre isn't working, try another. If you don't want to try another, then don't.
As I've said before, there are a ton of opinions out there and you can only do what's right for you. So, feel free to stretch your wings or not - whatever feels right.
What about you? Do you always write the same type of books or do you spread yourself over several genres? We can all probably point to plenty examples of both who succeeded in their own ways. Who are some success stories you know of?