Many successful (and unsuccessful) authors have to make a choice about what camp they’re going to sit in. Usually, though, that choice is made for them. When an author writes a fantasy book, and it becomes successful, he’ll forever be known as a fantasy author. It would behoove him to keep writing fantasy if he wants more success. These genre authors are usually scoffed at by elitists and pretentious writers. Which, I shouldn’t have to say, is pointless and cruel.
However, when I first began writing, I never intended to be pigeon-holed, come hell or high water. There are writers who love a genre so much they never want to leave. Others, like myself, would rather just be a writer and leave it at that. But most writers start out not wanting to write one genre but are forced into like I mentioned previously.
Rather than calling myself a writer only (because genre authors are writers, too), I’m an omni-writer. As of today, I’ve written fantasy, science fiction, horror, contemporary fiction, contemporary screenplays, non-fiction, movie reviews, news articles, and list articles. Perhaps one day I’ll want to write a spy thriller or a noir mystery or mix genres together and create something else unique. The point is I enjoy spreading out my legs and not defining myself to one genre.
I chose to be an omni-writer not because I feel it’s somehow superior. Rather, it’s comfortable. It meets my needs as a writer and somewhat fits my personality.
The challenges to being an omni-writer are great. I need to know different genres well. I need to read a lot of different genres and keep up with trends. There’s also the fact that my audience will change tremendously with each genre I write.
In my case, the benefits heavily outweigh the challenges.
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If you’re a new writer just starting out, trying to decide what kind of writer you want to be, consider the following:
- Do you read only one type of genre?
- Can you see yourself writing various things throughout your career?
- Do you care about being pigeon-holed?
- Are you writing for money or fame, or because you love it?
Depending on how you answer those questions might lead you one way or the other. Reading one kind of genre means you’re less equipped to write several. If you can’t see yourself writing various things, then that’s probably your answer right there. If you don’t care about being pigeon-holed in one spot, then don’t be an omni-writer. The last question is a little unfair, I’ll admit. However, if you read a lot of “Marketing” material about how to have a successful book business, many will tell you to be a genre-writer and stick to one genre. Those that don’t care about that crap, just write whatever because we love to write, regardless if it’s a marketing faux pas.