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What You Need to Know About Becoming a Cross-Genre Author

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. She is a former trade newspaper editor.

Should you become a cross-genre author?

Should you become a cross-genre author?

When Should You Cross Genres?

Cross-genre authors are those who write and publish books in multiple genres. While this certainly is a testament to the breadth and flexibility of their writing skills, it can present a host of challenges for their book promotion and sales efforts.

Different Genres, Different Markets

One of the biggest issues is that the markets for each book genre could be completely different. It’s not like publishing multiple books to the same market. It could easily double marketing costs since the marketing is completely separate for each. Authors may also not be equipped or experienced to do marketing for both, even if they have the writing skills for both.


Another issue that arises is that cross-genre authors may not want people to know they also write in another genre. This is especially the case for taboo or controversial topics such as erotica, politics, or religion. If their main fan base objects to this alternate genre, it could alienate readers.

Some deal with the issue by using pseudonyms, or pen names, for the alternate genre. But there’s always a possibility that their identity could be revealed.

Another question comes up regarding copyright registration. A copyright can be registered under a pseudonym. But there are pros and cons to doing that. Authors should discuss their options with an attorney to protect their identity and their work.

One thing that authors who use a pen name can do to help separate their markets on Amazon is to set up multiple author pages through Author Central, one for each pseudonym. Separate websites, domain names, and social media profiles for each genre’s books also help keep the genres separated, even if these do increase costs.

Assessing Your Potential of Self-Publishing Alternate Genre Books

Before diving into the wonderful world of whatever alternative writing and publishing adventure intrigues you, here are some questions to determine if you’re ready for it.

What would it cost to market to multiple markets?

Should your multiple genres be dramatically different, you could anticipate at least doubling your marketing spend in dollars, time, and effort.

How skilled and experienced are you at writing and marketing in an alternate genre?

Inexperienced authors can get disillusioned and disappointed when an alternate genre’s market doesn’t respond positively and immediately to their work. It could be due to lack of talent and marketing expertise for the other genre. Take time to gain knowledge of the other genre’s market before making a book writing and publishing commitment to it.

Are you just sick of your primary genre?

Even if successful, after writing one type of book for a very long time, boredom can set in, making a dramatic shift in writing focus appealing. Take a moment before you pivot to consider that you just might need a writing break. Or you might just need to explore other paths within your primary genre.

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Is the appeal of the secondary genre purely financial?

Seeing other authors who are successful in another genre can make you wonder if you could be successful there, too. But those other authors may have superior talent and extensive experience in this arena and a well-established following that has led to their success. Starting out from point zero could take years to achieve what they have. Quick financial success from self-publishing anything is rare.

How would it impact your life and your work if your pseudonymous cover was blown? Is it worth the risk?

Public, or even private, embarrassment could result from a reveal of your identity for writing and publishing a taboo or controversial book under a pen name. Friends, family, and followers could also feel that you’ve lied to them, and they may wonder what else you might be doing or hiding. Regardless of how careful you might be, there’s always the possibility that this could happen. Prepare yourself for that eventuality.

All this may sound like advice to stick with your primary genre even if it’s no longer satisfying. It’s not! It is, however, a call to make thoughtful decisions about your self-publishing career and investments.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2019 Heidi Thorne


Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 12, 2019:

Mary, no kidding! I can barely imagine switching genre gears. In addition to lack of talent in these other areas, I also have lack of desire, too. So it would definitely be a disappointing adventure for me.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a beautiful day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 12, 2019:

Adrienne, it can be a very freeing and fulfilling experience if the author has the right mindset and does it for the right reasons. Authors who are just chasing the next big thing are those who don't reap the rewards. Thanks for chiming in and have a lovely day!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 12, 2019:

Writers often have a style that suits a particular genre and that makes them successful in it. You have to be ultra-talented to write in various genres.

Adrienne Farricelli on June 12, 2019:

Interesting, I am sure many would feel tempted at one time or another to change genre. For sure it does take courage, but for those who succeed, it must feel rewarding and refreshing at the same time!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 12, 2019:

Linda, it is so tempting for so many authors! Then, once they realize the grass isn't greener on the other side, they're disappointed. Thanks for emphasizing that point. Have a lovely day!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 11, 2019:

I would think that publishing books in multiple genres could present major difficulties due to the problems that you've stated. I can understand the temptation, though!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 11, 2019:

Doris, I've got to wonder about some authors' choices, don't you? I think some just do these things (like capriciously changing pen names) because they think it's cool. I think it's just chaos and added work.

Thanks for sharing your experience with authors and their pen name issues! Have a lovely day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 11, 2019:

Peggy, there's a lot to consider when going down multiple writing roads! I just hope some authors take the time to thoughtfully consider what it would take.

Thanks so much for chiming in and have a lovely day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 11, 2019:

Pamela, I think the boredom issue is more prominent than many authors would like to admit. So authors need to do a good bit of soul searching before they wander into unknown territory.

Thanks for adding that aspect to the conversation! Have a lovely day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 11, 2019:

Bill, I've tried to go through the mental exercise of trying to write something other than what I do. It's almost impossible. I have absolutely no idea how people write novels, plays, poetry (although I think I could do that at some point), and songs (either the words or the music. None of those are rattling around in my brain. Kudos to those who have the talent flexibility!

Thanks for chiming in and have a beautiful day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 11, 2019:

Liz, no doubt the Internet has opened up worlds we're only beginning to realize. Thanks for adding that to the conversation. Have a great day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 11, 2019:

Flourish, all we have to do is think of all the famous actors that have stage names. Their real names are almost always revealed at some point. So, too, with many authors. And with the Internet where everyone seems to know everything, and the push for transparency, I think it's even harder these days to keep a pseudonymous identity. It can be done, but very carefully.

Some authors have several pen names. I think it would be difficult to keep them all straight! :)

Thanks for adding that angle to the conversation! Have a great day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 11, 2019:

Thank you for the kind words, Premjit! Appreciate you stopping by. Have a beautiful day!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 11, 2019:

This is some good information to be filed away for future reference. I'd wondered about this. I know several authors who publish under several names, especially if they've switched to the romance genre. I don't normally read romances, but I found a series of enjoyable historical fiction romances that were very well-written and historically accurate. Then I discovered that the author started publishing under one name and switched to another in the same genre. I couldn't figure that one out.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 11, 2019:

You have given authors much to consider if wishing to write in several different genres.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2019:

It does sound rather complicated to write in 2 genres. I can see the temptation to try something new if you are getting a bit bored or unfulfilled with your current genre, but certainly learning everything you might need to know first is great advice. This article clearly spells out the pitfalls.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 11, 2019:

I have done this, on several occasions. Since I don't do much marketing of any sort, the challenge for me was in the writing styles. I find that very difficult.

As always, very informative. Thank you for always sharing your wealth of knowledge. Have a great week in ChiTown!

Liz Westwood from UK on June 11, 2019:

This is an interesting article. It also highlights for me how much the internet has expanded marketting horizons.

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 10, 2019:

The points you raise make me wonder how many successful works have been written by prominent authors with pen names who were able to make it stay that way. Seems like their cover would be blown too easily.

Premjit Sunil Gatigante from Mumbai, India on June 10, 2019:

Very well discussed abt the different style of genres.

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