Pick a Genre
I received a query that pitched six completely different kinds of books:
A social commentary. A historical novel. A “road” story travel memoir. A compilation of short stories. A contemporary novel about a class action lawsuit. A history of Harley-Davidsons.
There is absolutely nothing I can do with this, and it’s a quick pass. First, I need you to sell me on one book – your very best book, your “break in” book. Then once I’m interested and we’re in conversations about representation, I want to hear about the other books you have in the works, books that would serve the same audience as the first one. I need you to have a “brand” that you, your publisher and I can build and promote, book after book.
When you have books in so many different genres and categories, each one targets a different audience, and therefore with each book you’re like a completely new author. A publisher can’t build on that (and neither can you). There’s no way to build an audience from book to book. You’re starting from scratch every time.
I might recommend self-publishing to someone in this situation, but even then I hesitate, because the same principle applies. Do you really have time to market to six different audiences? Even in self-publishing, there are limited resources and limited time. How will you use yours most effectively? You need to build a brand and market to your target audience.
Are there authors who write in more than one genre? Yes. But is this the way to get started? No. Establish yourself in one genre at a time. Give yourself time to find your voice, find your audience. Then, expand if you like.
Listen, I know many of you are talented writers, interested in a wide variety of topics. Fiction, non-fiction, memoir, you do it all. Unfortunately, we can’t sell it all. So as you’re getting started, you’re going to have to choose.
Don’t shoot the messenger!