Although I resisted it for months, I recently immersed myself in a Young Adult book, a romance, no less: Ditched: A Love Story, by Robin Mellom. I poured over it with can’t-put-it-down abandon. I read it in two days.
When I finished reading it, the next thing I did was read it again. I enjoyed it that much.
After the second time, I went to Amazon to buy her next book. Alas, she has none – at least not any YA books. She does have a couple of middle-grade/junior books, but as much as I like her writing style and voice, I couldn’t force myself to buy a book written for a nine-year-old.
She found a fan in me—and then had nothing more to offer.
Then I finally understood why people in the know, tell writers to “stay within your genre.” If you write period romance, then write only period romance—that’s what your audience expects. If you write crime novels, write only crime novels. Would you buy a romance with John Grisham? No. Or sci-fi by Dick Francis? No, even if it had a horse in it, it wouldn’t work.
I never understood why I couldn’t make a career by writing non-fiction and speculative fiction and devotionals and children’s books and memoirs and even poetry. It might be fun for me but would leave my audience confused and my career would fail to gain traction.
Now I understand why I can’t do that. I still don’t like it, but I do comprehend it.
Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!