Writing in Several Genres – Help or Hindrance? By Lucy Felthouse

by | July 26, 2012 | General | 9 comments

Today I’d really like to ask a question – is writing
in several different genres a help or a hindrance to a writer’s career?

Personally, I’ve always written whatever comes to
mind. I don’t  just write in a single
genre, and I’ve often surprised myself by going out of my comfort zone and
writing something that I’d never imagined I would want to write. But here I am,
six years into my writing career and I’ve penned m/f, f/f, ménage, contemporary,
paranormal, BDSM, fem-dom, rubenesque, modern fairy tales, voyeurism, romance,
bisexual and uniform fetish stuff.

I know many
writers pick a genre, for example, straight paranormal erotic romance, and
stick to it. Others, like me, write all kinds of things.

I can see the
good and bad points of both sides. Sticking to a single genre means that your
fans know what to expect, and that it’s incredibly likely that if they liked
one of your books, they’ll like them all. However, on the down side, you may
not be gaining new fans who wouldn’t necessarily look for books in the genre
you write within.

Writing in multi genres means that you run the risk of losing fans. They may
read something of yours and really enjoy it, then check something else out
that’s in a different genre, and not like it. (This is why, on my website, I
clearly state what genres my books are). On the other hand, though, someone may
have found your writing while looking for a lesbian piece, for example, then
gone on to read your books within other genres.

So, now I’m
putting the question to everyone else. I’d love to hear your experiences – from
both sides. It’s a little too late for me to change anything now—plus I love
writing in several different genres—but I’m just curious to hear the opinions
of others. I look forward to reading your comments!


Lucy is a graduate of the University of Derby, where she studied Creative Writing. During her first year, she was dared to write an erotic story – so she did. It went down a storm and she’s never looked back. Lucy has had stories published by Cleis Press, Constable and Robinson, Decadent Publishing, Evernight Publishing, House of Erotica, Noble Romance, Ravenous Romance, Resplendence Publishing, Sweetmeats Press and Xcite Books. She is also the editor of Uniform Behaviour, Seducing the Myth, Smut by the Sea and Smut in the City. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9 

Lucy Felthouse


  1. Big Ed Magusson

    It doesn't hurt Dan Simmons, who writes in science fiction, horror, thriller, and literary fiction genres. It doesn't appear to hurt some writers who use different pen names in different genres (J.B. Robb still sells fine even if you know it's Nora Roberts). The major downside I see is that it's hard to build a backlog in multiple genres at the same time.

  2. Remittance Girl

    I read writers for their writing, not for any particular genre they happen to be writing in. I love Iain Banks and Iain M Banks. Frankly, I'll read anything he writes.

    Plus, the whole thing with readers who will ONLY read, for instance, Paranormal Werewolf Romance and nothing else kind of freaks me out. It breeds a very constraining expectation of writers. It stops being a creative relationship (between writer and reader) and starts to become a master/servant relationship.

  3. Renee Rose

    I have absolutely been wondering this same question myself. Like you, I've just been writing whatever shows up (I just went from three historicals to a vampire novel), but when I think about the writers I like to read, I know I pick up their books because I have an expectation that it will be like the last one– not in plot, but perhaps in the *feel* or the energy or the overall themes…

  4. Donna

    I also have several favorite writers whom I like for their sensibility. Laura Kipnis or Alice Munro could write a book on pork rinds and baseball, and I'd read it. (I'm a vegetarian and not much of a sports fan). Also, I think the erotica umbrella is wide. You can try all kinds of things. It might be more of a problem if you write business how-to books and erotica–although one might argue there is a lot of cross-over there :-).

    But really, interesting question. I think a writer has to write what moves her. Otherwise you're just faking it. And readers, more than lovers, can always tell!

  5. Lisabet Sarai

    Hi, Lucy,

    I'm a dilettante when it comes to writing. I'm always experimenting with new genres. There are definitely risks, because I have a feeling that many readers are far more narrow in their interests than I am. Just because someone likes one of my BDSM stories doesn't mean he or she will enjoy my M/M romance, for example. But honestly there's nothing I can do about that. I'd be bored stiff if I didn't genre hop.

    A more difficult question is – how much should one be influenced by the popularity of a genre? My M/M work has sold better than anything else I've written. Yet that's not where my first love lies, from a literary perspective. Sometimes I wonder whether I should concentrate on this most remunerative sub-genre, but I actively fight that notion. It just feels too crass.

  6. Graham X

    I hope readers are discerning enough to know what works for them, whether it is a particular author or a particular genre, and what doesn't.

    Certainly, as a reader, I wouldn't abandon a favourite author just because they wrote something that in a genre that didn't appeal to me.

  7. Harper Eliot

    The thing is, without being too wishy-washy about this, as a writer I can't do any better than writing what I feel inspired and excited to write. Most of my writing falls into one genre – although I'm damned if I know how to label it – but that's just where my inspiration comes from.

    I do know, though, that when I've been asked to write in a particular genre that is not where my inspiration is in the moment, I always feel the writing suffers.

    Like RG, I'm really just looking for the best writing. If it's well written, anything can be compelling.

    But I'm sure from a business point of view writing different genres must lose you readers from time to time. But… such is life.

  8. Lucy Felthouse

    Wow, thanks for your comments everyone. Interesting to know that most of you also just write what you want to write, rather than staying with certain genres, or writing for the ones that sell the most.

    I think I'll stick with what I'm doing, which is writing what comes to me! 🙂

  9. Kissa Starling

    I'm so glad to know I'm not the only author who writes in many different genres. I get so tired of people telling me to choose a genre and stick to it.

    If they were inside my mind for one day they'd say, "whoa, you go ahead and write what you need to, sweetie" hahaha

    I do use an alternate pen name, K. Starling for my sweet romances. These sales are greatly affected, I believe, by the fact that I write fetish stories.

    As long as I can get the stories on paper, I'm happy!

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