Are you in this business for the long haul? Then you should think hard about the next book you choose to write. Will it help you in building a writing career? Maybe, maybe not. Here are some thing to think about.
What’s the Next Logical Book for your Audience to Read from You?
The biggest question is what kind of audience did your first book draw? And how can you turn those readers into rabid fans? The best way to build a career is to develop an audience who is dying to read your next book. So, what logically follows your first book? If your first story is a YA historical romance, then your next book should be a YA historical romance. If you jump over to a MG mystery, your readers won’t follow. This could mean writing in a series that readers will want to follow. But it might just be writing another book in that same genre and with a similar–yet different–tone, plot, characters, etc. Readers don’t like surprises! Well, surprise endings and such, sure. But when they pick up a book, they have certain expectations of what story is waiting for them. If you violate that expectation, readers aren’t happy.
Let’s say that your first book is that YA Historical Romance, and it sold a comfortable 12,000 copies in the first year. That’s 12,000 readers (plus anyone that the book owner passed the book off to) who spent several hours of their life with your story. If you follow that with a similar story, you have a chance to repeat with those first 12,000 and grow a bigger audience. What you hope for is that Book 2 will sell 15,000 or even 20,000.
Growing an audience is the best way to build a career.
But I LIKE Writing in Different Genres
Don’t we all! But will readers like what you write in that other genre? The problem is that you’ll be starting from zero readers. Again. The previous readers of the YA historical romance won’t follow you to the MG mystery. You can’t count on growing their support. And this one may not find it’s audience and only sell 4,000 copies. That means the publisher and booksellers are less likely to buy your next book!
In other words, you may find it hard to get the next contract! By switching genres, you’ve wasted the marketing efforts on the first book and failed to capitalize on them; and then, starting from zero, you didn’t gain traction with the new audience.
It’s not a matter of your creativity! Instead, it’s the question of do you want to build an audience who will beg for your next book. THEN (and only then), you can try another genre. After you’ve built an audience over several books, you can try a different genre and see if any of your readers will follow you. You can take that risk later in your career because you’ve earned their trust and a reputation for great stories. You just can’t do it early because you’re not established as a strong writer in any genre.
To build a career, first sell a book. Then, immediately follow that book with something similar that will appeal to the same audience. Rinse and repeat. That’s it.