Earl Hammer Jr. died last month. You may not know him by name, but he created the hit 70’s T.V. show, The Waltons, a wholesome program with great family values. He also wrote several episodes for the hot sci-fi show of the 60’s, The Twilight Zone, and he created Falcon Crest, a hit 80’s show that was a weekly soap-opera-like, trashy drama. It makes me wonder: How often can writers create great works in multiple genres?
I am not saying Earl had a split personality, for it’s quite normal to see a writer has more than one topic that he’s passionate about. But it’s harder to see someone excel in more than one genre, especially when we see how authors brand themselves.
There are multiple sides to a writer. He or she takes a curious, intelligent, and feeling mind and applies it to everything he experiences. The sum of his experiences inform and inspire his writings. Some people can write just as easily about love and ethics as they would about violence and hate. They can pen a book on sports or about wine or Wall Street. They can see the good -- and the bad – and weave a story that fits either side of the coin. A writer is like an athlete who is good at multiple sports. In this case he can write trashy novels or an intellectual analysis of a political issue.
I have no doubt many writers can apply their talent to any subject they desire. Some genres may challenge or not interest them, but certainly most writers like to write about many things. However, today’s marketplace may not be as welcoming to writers who try to write beyond one genre.
You would think that writers can be successful in multiple genres but they struggle with getting known in just one community, so to then start over with a new one is challenging. Writers brand themselves with their website, social media, speeches, and books. Can a writer go from writing books on parenting to erotica, or from writing books about weight loss to politics? These topics conflict with one another or have little cross-over appeal.
Writers would have to have multiple websites and social media profiles to keep things separate. Can you see yourself maintaining two Twitter feeds, two blogs, two websites, etc? Do you have time to sell and market to organizations, businesses, and book groups for one genre and then to have to research and approach a whole new list to promote a different genre?
Earl was able to avoid being typecast and had the skill and good fortune to be a force behind several hit television franchises that greatly differed from one another. But today’s author would be challenged to successfully write, publish, and market books in multiple genres.
Even writers who write under a pseudonym or don’t risk any backlash for what they write, I still don’t believe the book marketplace makes it easy to promote in different genres. Maybe I’m wrong and I know that some authors have dominated multiple genres, especially if the genres relate to each other, but it’s an uphill battle for most to achieve similar success. Many authors struggle to break through in one genre, let alone two.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016
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