Reinventing Yourself.

I write Victorian-era romance set in the West.

When I first set out to write, it hadn’t been my intention to write westerns. I happen to live in the West, and I liked the Victorian age for a number of reasons. Not the least of which, it’s not Regency.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Regency era, and I love to read Regencies, but the era itself is so freaking short. And, if romance novels are to be believed, the Duke of Ross got around! (When I say I love Regencies, I’m not kidding. I’ve read four in the last three days. Said Duke of Ross was mentioned in all of them. The rogue!)

So, anyway, when I started writing, I wrote “not precisely” westerns, but Victorian-era historicals set in the West. The entire time I was writing The Marker, I kept telling husband, “But it’s not reading like a western! It’s reading like a Regency set in California!” Call it western-light, I guess. What’s funny is that, when RT reviewed it, the reviewer did actually say that it’s a western that “has the feel of a Regency.”

All I could do was nod and say, “She gets me, she really gets me!”

In any case, now that I’ve written three historicals, and am finishing up a fourth, a part of me wants to branch out. Write something new and different. Write something–dare I say it–contemporary. I have these ideas in my head for a romantic suspense, a paranormal and two different romantic comedies. And I’m left in a conundrum.

Meggan Connors does not write fast. She also writes historicals. A book a year is really about as fast as I go. Maybe a book and a novella, but that’s the best I can do. So if I veer off track, and I start writing a contemporary, do I need a new name, and a new persona? Or can I simply reinvent myself? Or, more to the point, do I even need to reinvent myself?

As a reader, I read across genres. I’m not married to any given period. Yes, I read a lot of historicals. I also read a lot of paranormal. I used to stick to those two for the most part, but then I got sucked in to romantic suspense, and, later, contemporaries and romantic comedies. Basically, I just read.

As a writer, can you do the same thing? Simply write something completely out of the genre you’ve established for yourself?

I’ve read so many differing opinions. Some people say that you need to write under a new name if you’re going to genre jump. But I can barely manage the social media I have for one persona. I can’t imagine adding on to that!

Other people say that a new name is unnecessary. Just have a common theme throughout your work, and you’re okay.

And I… I don’t know.

What do you think? Can an author write in a genre completely different from the one already established? And how do you feel when one of your favorite authors does this?

M

 

 

 

About Meggan Connors

Mother. Wife. Author. Teacher. Really, really bad soccer coach.
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8 Responses to Reinventing Yourself.

  1. scmitchell says:

    I’m facing a lot of the same questions, and i don’t have any answers. I’ll be interested to see what others say.

  2. I was told by an agent to pick a new name for every genre.
    I was told by a publisher, “YOU are the brand.”
    I am as confused as you, and I guess I’ve decided to be Ann Montclair because it’s easier for me.
    I do know that as a reader, when I have a favorite author, I’ll read anything they write in any genre; so as a writer I’ve decided to stick with the single pen name. Right or wrong, I’m just Ann.

    • Hi Ann!

      See, an agent said the same thing to me. But I just can’t see trying to manage another persona. Between teacher, mom, coach, author and wife, I feel like I wear too many hats as it is. Trying to establish a brand with another name, and build a following with that name, seems like an impossible task!

  3. terripatrick says:

    The “new name” for a “new genre style” is a traditional marketing tactic of branding the product (book) so it’s easy for a reader to remember. J.D. Robb is Nora Roberts. Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jane Castle all live in the same house. With readers and authors now being able to connect directly online and through social media, the “author brand by genre” isn’t as beneficial as the author creating one persona for one website that includes all books – no matter what type. Consider having a different website/FB page/ google acct… for every name vs. one Author website for all your books no matter what genre.

    A great example of being one name writing in three genres is Paty Jager. Her author “brand-persona” is Western, Romance & Mystery and now she’s added Action-Adventure. She separates her books on separate pages on her website to its an easy point-n-click. http://www.patyjager.net/

    A point to consider is my sister met Paty Jager two years ago, and read one of the “spirit-trilogy” books then she went out and bought more of Paty’s books and likes the variety and being able to see how Paty has evolved as an author. My sister spent weeks absorbing everything Paty Jager and though she’s moved on to a variety of other authors since, Paty will always be an instant “buy” now. No matter the genre.

  4. I think these days it is all about the author brand and I know that I have read authors who have crossed genre’s and it has turned out really well.
    We work hard (well you guys have I am just starting out) for our names and if you feel comfortable keeping it then you should. I am sure all your fans will be only too willing to support you in your new work!

    • This is a great point. We work hard to establish our names (whether it works or not us an entirely different matter), and it seems a shame to give that up because the muse struck out in a new direction.

      For those of us who write slow because of the day job, family commitments, or just because that’s how we work, establishing a new persona and trying to build a new metwork seems like a really daunting task.

      • Exactly! Unlike last year when I completed my novel- before the pain of submission – I had all day to write, it was fabulous… Now I only have three hours a day to write the second of my series of which at least one hour I give over to various web based activity, twitter, Facebook, blog, emailing people begging them to like me (haha) in the run up to the release in September.
        My second book may never be completed… And I know other authors also feel this time constraint!
        There is no way I could handle doing that for another name as well.
        Also another thing I find weird, and I noticed it in a shop this weekend actually is that a lot of big name authors who write under a different pen name per genre always end up having their most famous name printed on the front cover as well. So it will be Blah Blah writing as Blah Blah??
        Makes no sense to me, I say stick to your name, your fans and your own personality and then make it a selling point that you are a gifted enough author that can write more than one style of novel!

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