The world has expectations. Readers do, too. As an author, I’m supposed to provide the type of books they expect from me. There’s only one problem… What do they expect?
In a world filled with so many rules, authors are people who prefer to break them. We test the boundaries of things in our stories, just to see how they will play out. We make the oddball into the hero. Our job is to embrace all the things that society is trying to quash. We’re the orange window frame in a black and white world.
So what happens when the romance author publishes a science fiction novel? What about when the horror author puts out a sweet young adult fantasy book? Their fanbase freaks out.
And that’s what I worry about. I write books about hope. Romance, fantasy, science fiction, cross-genre blends… I really don’t care. I write the story in the setting it needs to get where I want to go. Granted, I also touch on some very dark and disturbing subjects – but in a way that makes them a stepping stone, not an anchor dragging the hero(ine) under.
So what happens when I stray? What happens when I write something truly dark? I love dystopian (the old school style). I have a weakness for endings that are bittersweet. I adore pushing my own limits, and that means I’ll eventually finish a book that doesn’t quite match up with the rest of my published work. Do I put it out under a pseudonym, then suffer the loss of time in trying to market two different personas? Do I warn my fan base and release it as myself? Is there some line that should not be crossed, while others are more of a suggestion and meant to be ignored at will?
I honestly don’t know. So, I’ve come to a decision. Because many of my currently released books deal with very adult topics (cancer, abuse, um.. sex!) I’m going to divide my work by age appropriate subjects. You see, I have a secret store of YA books. I’ve always loved the genre (and its diversity) so naturally, I write it. My problem is that a book marketed to sixteen-year-olds should not be sold beside a story about survival after tragedy. A story about high school bullying does not need to go beside gamer geeks going at it. I think that the line should be PG-13 vs R. Those books that are rated X will need yet another name to grace the cover.
But I don’t want to hide who I am. I just want to make sure that no accidental book readings happen. Most likely, I will publish under my initials and last name, or possibly my married name, but I can’t help but be daunted by the work that is involved with something so “easy”. The hours of publicity, the money invested into marketing, the attempts to steer readers where they need to be to get what they want. I’m just one person.
So I sit here and wonder: does it really matter to the reader what stories we write, so long as we make it clear what the novel is about? Are you more likely to cross over to a new genre if it’s by an author you love?