Why You Should Write in Multiple Genres

When I first started writing seriously, nearly six years ago, I was unsure of what genre I wanted to write; as a result, I played a lot. I wrote poems; sparse, poetic nonfiction; humour essays; and children’s stories.

Then I chose my genre or—more precisely—my genre chose me. I started a humour blog where I laughed at all things domestic. My agent sold my parenting humour manuscript, Don’t Lick the Minivan: And Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say to my Kids.

My next book, however, comes out this May and it’s a picture book entitled The Change Your Name Store.

CYNS DLM Collage

So, how do you write in multiple genres?

As I’ve found out, it’s easiest if both genres have an overlapping audience. Who buys parenting humour? Moms. Who buys picture books? Moms.

I’m pretty sure it’d be harder if I was trying to sell Sketching Fish for Dummies.

Now, why should you write in multiple genres?

(1) It helps you stay fresh. You can switch projects when one is feeling flat.

(2) It may help sell your other book(s). I’m hoping my picture book will help sell more copies of my humour book, as moms read the author bio and say, “Hey, that looks interesting.”

(3) It keeps you from being pigeon-holed as a writer of x. I don’t call myself a mommy blogger because I don’t always write about children (not to mention the term seems pejorative). I love the idea of “being more” than my genre, of reaching new readers, of trying new things.

So what’s next? I’m working on all of the following manuscripts: a second picture book, a humor gift book for moms, and a slightly serious memoir of sorts.

If there’s such a thing as Writer’s ADD, I have it.

Your turn:
Do you write (or have any desire to write) in multiple genres?
What do you write? What genre would you love to try, just for fun?

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About Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom)

Leanne Shirtliffe (a.k.a. Ironic Mom) is a humor writer who lives by the motto, "If you can't laugh at yourself, laugh at your kids." She is the author of DON'T LICK THE MINIVAN: Things I Never Thought I'd Say To My Kids (2013) and the picture book THE CHANGE YOUR NAME STORE (2014).
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7 Responses to Why You Should Write in Multiple Genres

  1. brookst says:

    Yes I want to write multiple genres but I always thought it would be difficult. Like an actor getting typecast. I didn’t think publishers would want you to but I’m seeing it more and more. I can’t wait to get my paranormal romance published then get to work on my literary spy thriller.

  2. Sue says:

    When I first got my agent, her first piece of advice was not to switch genres. I’d written a chick lit book, Two’s Company, but when I met her I was writing quite a dark and twisted tale about a very unhealthy relationship. She told me to ditch that one and crack on with another chick lit. Now I’m an indie author I am still writing chick lit (working on one now called Best Laid Plans), but I’m about to release a romance set in the former East Berlin and I’m working on a time travel book. And a Christmas fanfic for people who like my Holby City blogs. I definitely agree with you that it makes you feel more fresh to write different genres.

  3. Ginger Calem says:

    Hi Leanne. I loved ‘Minivan’ and your picture book looks adorable! I tend to be drawn in different directions with my writing as well. Cozy mystery and YA predominantly but years ago I started a psych thriller which was intense and a lot of fun. I have a picture book written as well. I’d hate to be stuck with just one genre. Where’s the fun in that? :)

  4. Chris says:

    Totally with you! I write a blog, which is supposed to be funny and have written and trying to get published a MG novel, which coincidently is also funny. Wish me luck! Have sent my two children off to uni, so am making the conference rounds – Van Writers’ Fest today and SWIC tomorrow and Sat. Love this blog and your own.

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