I came across an interesting article on Novel Rocket that discussed the pros and cons of authors writing outside of their usual genre. According to this article, the verdict is that it's ill-advised for writers to venture into genres that they are not established in, because their fans will not be getting what they expect and the readers in the other genres won't give them enough attention because they aren't established names there. So from a marketing perspective, it's best for authors to stay in one genre and work that crowd.
This makes sense when you look at it from a money angle, but as far as creativity goes, it should rub every author the wrong way. No one likes being told how they should write, but there are certain realities that must be faced. Of course, sticking to one genre isn't a requirement for writing, and many authors have found great succeed in jumping genres. However, they are the exception, and they can pull this off because they are usually famous names that will attract attention no matter what genre they write in. For authors like myself who are still trying to build our brand, laying a solid foundation in one place seems like good advice. Once those roots have been planted, we can branch out and experiment with less risk of losing our core fanbase.
I've written two books in The Age of Apollyon trilogy, a gothic supernatural series that is very dark and violent. However, I am currently working on a new book called Indelible that is nothing like my previous books. I am doing this mostly just to clear my mind so I can finish The Age of Apollyon series with fresh energy. But according to Novel Rocket, this is a bad idea.
So, I've come up with a plan.
I'm going to set a pattern for the books I write. I call it "Two On, One Off." Basically, I will write two dark edgy books, then one book in a different genre, then repeat. This enables me to keep my roots in the edgy speculative fiction genre, which is where I want to establish myself, but also give readers something unexpected to show that I'm not a one-trick pony. It will also let my mind take a breather from the doom and gloom, and besides, it's fun to try new things. All artists, musicians, and filmmakers like to branch out now and then, and it's no different for authors.
So Indelible will follow on the heels of The Age of Apollyon and Black Sun. When that's done, I will write the final book in The Age of Apollyon trilogy called Scorn, and then throw my hat into the sci-fi ring (the phrase echoing in my head is "gothic sci-fi slaughterfest"). And when those are finished, I will try something completely different. By laying out this schedule, my readers will know what to expect and can have more than one thing to look forward to. It also gives me the freedom to experiment and not feel locked into one groove.
Stay tuned - there are going to be a lot of surprises coming your way!