I get asked a lot, through the blog and in person, about genre hopping. Many of you have interests in different areas, and after finishing a book in one genre wonder if it’s okay to start something fresh in a brand-new genre, or if you should stay in the genre of the book you’re currently submitting. In other words, if you’re currently submitting a contemporary YA romance, is it okay to be writing a fantasy for your work in progress.
I say, go for it. Part of the publishing process involves discovery—discovering your voice, which genres suit your voice best, and which genres you really have a passion for—and until you get that magic publishing contract in hand, there’s no one out there telling you what you can or cannot do. For the unpublished, you should use this point in your career as a time of exploration and growth. And you should have fun with it.
Once you do get that contract it’s time to settle down and start looking at things with more of an eye toward business. That certainly doesn’t mean the exploration and discovery should stop, but it does mean that while you might want to be working on that big fantasy, the reality, and your next contract, says you only have time to do another YA right now. When authors first get that publishing contract I encourage them to start focusing, at least while they’re building a name for themselves. That doesn’t mean you can’t publish in both YA and fantasy, it just means that you need a plan to do so. You probably don’t want to publish YA, a year later fantasy, and a year later YA. I would encourage you to establish an audience first and branch out from there. How soon you can branch out and into what is going to vary from author to author. It’s going to depend on what genres you’re interested in, the path your career is taking, and the market, so I can’t give you specifics.
Growth and discovery are what makes authors truly successful so don’t limit yourself, just realize that this is a business and because of that some of the decisions you make might have to be based more on what’s best for your career and less on what you really want to do creatively.