by Tamela Hancock Murray
Often I talk with new authors writing in lots of genres. This is fine if it’s part of your personal writing journey and learning process. I want my authors to enjoy what they’re writing. But when you get serious about publication, know when to choose and what to choose.
One mistake is to write strictly to market when you don’t like the genre. I love to tell the story of a friend who said she knew someone who decided that vampires were popular. This idea is timeless, isn’t it, since vampires seem to occupy some place in literature in any recent era. Supposedly he went home to work on a book about vampires. simply because he thought vampires could make him money. I haven’t seen his name on any book, and he started writing about vampires two decades ago. I speculate that he never saw success because he was writing about a topic he saw only as dollar signs. I believe readers will feel this from you whether you know it or not. So choose a topic or genre you have a genuine interest in and love for.
Here are a few questions to think about when choosing your genre. This quiz works for fiction and nonfiction. I will use vampires as the fill-in-the-blank, but you can substitute romance/thriller/prayer/marriage or whatever you like. If you’re struggling between topics and genres, take the quiz as many times as you need, substituting a different topic or genre each time.
1.) Have I read a number of books, both past and present, about vampires?
2.) Did I enjoy the books I read about vampires?
3.) Do I follow authors writing about vampires on social media?
4.) Do I enjoy interacting with authors of vampire novels?
5.) For the most part, do I share the world view of other authors of vampire novels?
6.) When a new book on vampires is released, do I immediately want to get a copy?
7.) Do I have the time, discipline, and will to write about vampires for several years?
8.) Am I willing to research vampire lore to make my book authentic and authoritative?
9.) Do I feel a genuine kinship with readers of vampire novels?
10.) Do I respect readers of vampire novels?
11.) Do I feel comfortable around readers of vampire novels?
12.) Do I want to interact with readers of vampire novels on social media?
I hope this list of questions has helped you think about what you really want to write. After all, don’t you want to look forward to every writing day?
Tamela Hancock Murray is a literary agent with The Steve Laube Agency bringing to her wonderful clients her past experience as an award-winning (RWA Inspirational Reader’s Choice), bestselling author of Christian romance novels and Bible trivia books. Learn more about Tamela on Facebook and Twitter @Tamela_Murray.
This post really hits home! And I love your vampire examples 😉 It really is important to look forward to writing because when obstacles hit, there has to be a reward.
I inserted historical Christian romance in place of vampires, and got an emphatic “yes” to all 12 questions. But I heard it was unwise to write in several different time periods, that I needed to pick one era and stick with it. Do you think there’s any truth to that?
Georgiana, thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the post. 🙂
Debby Lee, if you’re sticking with historical, I think it’s perfectly fine to write in different time periods. What I have noticed, though, is that often authors find a period they really love and they stay with it. Not only do they enjoy the era, but the amount of research needed lessens with each passing book, meaning the author can be more productive. Something else you’ll consider is that the reader ultimately has the last vote. If you’re successful with Regencies, for example, you’ll have a good reason to stay there. Thanks for asking!
That is really great advice, Tamela, thank you.
What an excellent post! Thank you, Tamela. Every time I get a new idea, I’ll be testing it with this quiz. My brother would call this post “awesome sauce.” 🙂 Ha! I’m not exactly sure what that means, except to denote something really good.
I had a recent conversation about this with another author and will definitely recommend this post.
Natalie, thanks for letting me know!
Thanks, Tamela, for this advice. I loved the vampire questions! It is an extremely helpful post at this point in my life.