Pigeonholing Me As An Author

I  might have touched on this idea but it bears repeating… because I say so. And if I already wrote a blog about it, I’m too lazy to look, and I want to come into this fresh, without reading what I’d written previously. The problem with being serious with this writing gig for the last 18 months is I tend to forget what came before. There’s also the fact I was in a much different place, physically and mentally, a year and a half ago.

I’ve been writing on and off since I was twelve, and releasing stories and novellas here and there since about 2000, but I tend to look at the last year or two as the time I got really serious about doing this as a hopeful career and not just a fun hobby. So far, so good…

And I consider myself a Horror author. There are those who consider me a Zombie author. I really just want to be an Author. But is that too late for me?

Fellow author Tim Baker and I were out and about the other night doing something very important (OK, we were once again drinking banana bread beer at Farley’s Irish Pub), and there was a guy there who pointed at me and said ‘Aren’t you the Zombie Guy?’ 

I get that every now and then, and it is such an ego stroke for me to be recognized not as the guy who seems to eat too much and hang out, but as the Zombie Guy. He didn’t recognize Tim Baker, but that’s another story. 

When I sit and write all morning in Kokomo’s Cafe, customers come in and out and I talk to a few of them. The one day I wasn’t there? Owner Tina posted a shot of my empty seat (below) and I got so much crap from people calling me a slacker I had to get back to work the next day. And it was awesome… I’m getting the reputation around town and it’s pretty cool. And not for when I tear up the Chinese buffet anymore, either. 

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But what if I write a romantic comedy? An epic fantasy? A book with fuzzy lovable polar bears? Do I have to start all over again? Will my Horror and/or Zombie readers be willing to read it, or simply dismiss it? What if you read a funny book I wrote about a turtle family and then a reader loved it and picked up Highway To Hell, with a brutal opening? Would they run away, never to read another story from me?

I’m not interested in finding pen-names and starting again (I did it already with my erotica), but I never started writing Zombie stories to be known as the Zombie Guy. I started writing to be known as a Published Author. Or am I being an idiot? Isn’t it better to be known for something, sell some books, and keep living the dream? 

I bring this up because I have a very non-Horror idea brewing in my head, and it won’t go away. Since I’m currently wading through Dying Days 3 I can push it off for a few weeks, but I know once this zombie book is finished the idea will jump right back at me front and center. 

And, at this point, I think I need to write it. And see what happens… 

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31 replies to “Pigeonholing Me As An Author

  1. Write what you love. Put out a story you want to read, and I’ll read it. Not every book is going to make your top 10 sellers every month, but every one is an avenue for new fans to find you.

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  2. I agree with Victor. Write it. When a fan/reader discovers you and falls in love with your prose, they clamber to read everything you’ve put out. Regardless of the genre. It’s your voice, your talent that they like.

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  3. Ah man, the polar bear book was our secret project. Now the cats out of the bag…
    In all seriousness, I have started to look at branching out also. In my notebook one would find an outline and the first chapter of a fantasy story dedicated to my sons.

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  4. I like writing in the horror genre, but I also have plans for writing in other genres as well. I feel, as you have mentioned in your blog, that I have other stories to tell. That’s why I named my blog the name it has. As far as using a different name or a pen name, I think I will continue to use my current author name. And like a couple of the comments before mine, if your readers like your style and writing, they won’t turn away just because of genre. Good luck!

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  5. I am doing the opposite of you. I wrote a very accessible novel, and am now writing a zombie novel. My worry is turning away my newly created fanbase with all the fun blood and gore coming their way.
    But I have to agree with your other commenters, I think you just got to do it. No one tells us what to write…. right? 🙂

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  6. LOL…that empty seat thing was hilarious! No slacking for this boy.

    Write what you want. Sure, we get browbeat a lot as authors about the whole branding thing, but there’s still maneuvering room. Stephen King wrote his Dark Tower cross-genre fantasy series, and dare I mention that Stephenie Meyer jumped right from vampires into aliens? So it needn’t be zombies 24-7.

    Believe it or not, I originally thought I was destined to be a horror or mystery/thriller author. Took a while for me to realize I was a romance writer. I got great enjoyment out of each, however. So if it gives you those writer tingles, go for it!

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  7. It’s a tough thing to shift between genres. I’ve got two books in a fantasy-thriller series, a short story that’s a fairy tale, and another short story that’s a more standard fantasy. If you read all my work, they are obviously by the same guy. The voice is the same. There is a great commonality of themes.

    But they don’t sell each other. The novels appeal to one audience, the fairy tale to another, and the fantasy to a third. I put ads for all my books in the back of each of them and direct readers to my website, etc. But until I get a Stephen King-like reputation (ha!), I’m not sure I’m going to create too much crossover between audiences.

    In one respect, that’s a good thing. It enables me to tap multiple markets. But as an indie author who’s been publishing for a little over a year, it sure makes it hard to build multiple sales.

    My guess, Armand, is that if you write outside your established genre, you’ll have to work hard to market into the the new one. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I also doubt the zombie books will sell your new one.

    Of course, if you do manage to figure out how to do this, I would love to know your secret! 😉

    Good luck, my friend. Keep us posted.

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  8. I remember commenting here on genre hopping. The post was asking the question from a different perspective (How Many Releases Are Too Much?) and now I wonder if your idea was starting it’s fermentation then. If yes, then it sounds like you REALLY should do it.

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  9. If you have a story to write, you should write it (especially if it’s been bothering you). It can be hard to retain readers cross-genre, but it’s not impossible. It might just grow your readership instead of promoting sales of your backlist, but a sold book is still a sold book, right?

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  10. Tolkien wrote history books as well as fantasy. Did it ruin his rep? I think a writer has to write what the muse wants to write from novels to blogs to poems to shopping lists. Ignoring what’s bursting to come out on the page can leave anything else feeling forced and that comes across to the reader. You can spot it in many a series of novels – the ‘just not feeling it factor’. Put something out there. If people don’t read the blurb, that’s their look out! Market other works as a departure, new and exciting, from reknowned horror novelist… You get the idea. The ony genre you need to focus on is the uppermost one – ‘BOOK’. At least in my book 😉

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    1. Yes, I agree. So far I’ve always written what was on my mind, and it’s always been horror or zombies or thrillers with a darker bent to the story, so this idea hits me out of left field… but I am going to pursue it.

      Armand

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      1. Excellent stuff. Many good things come out of left field. Except my spelling of renowned which is one for the blogging blooper reel. Best of luck with the new material.
        JAM

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  11. Sort of what I mentioned when you had me in for a guest spot. I have my horror/comedy, and I also have the DAKOTA books and my soon-to-be-released “Uncivil War” (modern day race war in America). I say, if the idea is there…GO FOR IT! WHile you have a legion of zombie fans…you may turn THEM on to something new.

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  12. I’m a little late weighing in on this, but I just now saw this post. My opinion is to write what you want. I write paranormal romance, but ventured into some light horror with The Gnome. My current WIP was supposed to be a paranormal romance, and it’s also turning into horror. I think that’s telling me something. LOL. Anyway, I see nothing wrong with writing across different genres as long as the description of the book lets people know what they’re getting. Look at Michael Crichton. He wrote a little bit of EVERYTHING. And I loved almost all of it. Go for it!

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  13. Hey Armand! It’s nice to be following you now. Love the look of your website, it’s monochromatic but dramatic! I know, I digress.

    As for writing, I think that we now tend to overthink writing. Maybe it’s because “they” say that you need a website, to be on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, have people “pin” you on Pinterest…ai yi yi yi yi! Back in the day, all you needed was a notebook and a typewriter. Sure, you had to worry about finding an editor, agent and publisher but nowadays, you gotta worry about EVERYTHING! Technology has been both a blessing and a curse.

    As for writing outside your genre, I say, go for it! If your fans are true fans, they will check it out. Sure, they might not like it but they might not like a zombie story that you write, either. And you will probably acquire even more fans from those other genres. It is awesome that people recognize you.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, I am actually writing it now and having so much fun with it! It will be called “Flagler Fiction Series” and is a contemporary story arc set in the town I write in. Look for updates this week, as the first serialized one will be released next Friday already!

      Armand

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