How To Choose Your Writing Genre – A High-Level Overview

writing genre - doors

There are two problems you have when you first start writing as a professional.

The first is which writing genre you are going to choose, and the second is if you should pick a genre at all.

To answer your second problem, if you do not pick a genre, then the genre will pick you.

This article starts by considering genre selection for people who wish to become professional writers, and then moves onto the problems that fiction writers may have regarding their choice of genre.

Go Where The Work Takes You

As a paid and professional writer, you are going to have to take what the market has to offer. As a result, you may find yourself becoming an expert in things you knew nothing about when you first started writing.

As you work in that particular field more and more, you learn so much to the point where that field becomes your genre. In fact, professional writers with decades of experience will often write for numerous writing genres and will gain a series of unanticipated skills.

What Are Unanticipated Skills?

If you gun for just one niche area and genre, then you may have a hard time picking up work. Even if your market scene is ripe with clients, there is so much competition that you are going to have to deviate from your chosen genre from time-to-time.

As mentioned above, time and experience will help you become an expert in different genres, fields, niche areas and markets. As a byproduct, you may learn unanticipated skills that dramatically increase your work quality.

An Example of An Unanticipated Skill

For example, if you have been writing about credit cards for years, then you may learn how to spot online user reviews that have been written by marketing companies. You may have learned the various key indicators that suggest certain reviews were not written by actual consumers, and as a result you are able to thoroughly review credit cards and identify true selling points and true problems.

In addition to this, your years of experience writing about credit cards will have taught you what is genuinely a good selling point and what is nothing more than a gimmick.

What Makes You Good At Your Chosen Genre May Make You Adept At Another Genre

You have no idea how many writers have become experts in their field, and yet their qualifications have nothing to do with what they write about. This sort of thing happens all the time in creative professions. That is why we are always so surprised to find out that a famous actor has an electrical engineering degree, or that a comedy writer is actually a medical doctor.

This is often because the skills that attracted you to your chosen genre/qualification may carry over and become useful skills in other genres.

An Example Of Skills Carrying Over

For example, you may think of yourself as an adept psychology writer. Maybe you do not have a qualification in the subject or maybe you do. Your ability to pick through small and boring details in order to search out key indicators may mean you are a whiz when it comes to reading credit card small print.

Many people cannot stand the idea of reading pages of credit card small print in order to find unfavorable terms, but your ability to pick through boring details means that you may find unfavorable terms in a matter of minutes.

Popular Trends Often Dictate Demand

Trends will sometimes dictate demand in the freelance writing world. For example, when things such as Bitcoin start taking off, more and more clients when web content about it. Popular trends are a big influence with regards to how much work you will get when writing fiction. The amount of fiction writing work you receive is also amplified by how salable the written work is.

For example, when a big action book is turned into a movie, then clients want fiction on the subject of that action movie. Such as when Jurassic Park was turned into a movie. At that time there where many clients looking for books with dinosaurs as a theme. However, action books do not sell very well when compared with other types of fiction, so the pay for writers was very poor.

The same was true when the Harry Potter books were turned into movies. There were clients out there that were demanding magical/fantasy books, but the pay was pretty poor because these types of stories do not sell very well (beside the Harry Potter books themselves). A popular trend affected demand, but it didn’t result in high paying work for writer.

Popular Trends That Have Paid Well

When Jurassic Park and Harry Potter books were turned into movies, the demand for action and magical/fantasy genre fiction went up but it didn’t pay well because it that type of content doesn’t sell well.

However, when the Twilight books became movies, the demand for similar fan fiction was intense and not only did it vampire fan fiction sell well, it also attracted many people to websites where the on-page adverts generated income.

So popular was the Twilight fan fiction that it inspired E. L. James to write erotic fan fiction about Twilight that she evolved into the popular 50 Shades Of Grey books. These books generated a massive surge in demand for erotic fiction, and this is another area where free online fiction generates web traffic which leads to affiliate sales.

When the 50 Shades of Grey movies were made, it generated a massive demand for erotic fiction and many fiction writers were paid good money for their efforts because clients could make money from selling their fiction or hosting it on advert-laden websites.

Should Popular Demand Dictate Your Genre Choice?

As a writer, it is up to you to know how your industry works and it is up to you to keep your finger on the pulse. If you are up to date with current demand, then you have a choice to make, should you jump on the bandwagon?

Obviously, this is a personal question that you need to ask yourself, but the first thing you need to ask yourself if “What harm could this do?” If you have spent your writing career creating stories about single women looking for love, then the move to erotic fiction is not a dramatic one.

However, it may damage your online reputation severely if you move from children’s books over to adult material. There is nothing saying that you shouldn’t switch genres, but you may have a hard time returning to children’s fiction if you hop onto the erotic fiction genre.

Conclusion – Pay Or Pleasure And How Long Will Your Writing Genre Be Popular?

Before you pick a genre, you need to give some final consideration to how long your genre will be popular. Trends and desires change in the fiction and freelance industry in the same way they change in the movie industry.

Just a few years ago the only good hero movies were Batman movies, and now there are hero movies coming out every couple of months. There was a time when NLP articles were viciously popular, but the trends for mental manipulation has dropped off dramatically. There was a time when spy thrillers were a big hit, but that genre is experiencing a nasty trough at the moment.

Before you commit to a genre, you have to consider how long it will be popular and maybe consider experimenting with several genres as backups.

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is if you are writing for pay or pleasure. Writing for pay is a fast way to become a starving artist and writing for pleasure if an even faster way of hitting the poverty lines.

The fact of the matter is that you may be unable to write for pleasure unless you are independently wealthy and do not need the money you make from writing. If you are not independently wealthy, then trends, demand, and your clients will probably end up picking your genre for you.

If you are not independently wealthy, then you will have to follow the money.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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About the author

William Grigsby

William Grigsby is a book addict and professional editor. He lives for literature and its seduction of Mankind. Whatever challenges he goes through, he has one motto to rely on "keep reading, keep writing".

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