Bringing a sword (and a ghost) to a gun fight. Is genre-hopping a good idea?

Over the past few weeks I’ve been re-reading and re-editing my first manuscript, Chasing

What would Sean suggest?

After Vanity. As you may recall, Vanity is a crime-humor story (the prologue is linked above in the main menu bar).

In addition, I’ve been spending what precious extra seconds I have on two other projects: first, jotting down plot points for SHADOWS AND BONES, the first installment in my fantasy series The Desolation War Saga. The other is a series of short stories. I recently published a short story on Smashwords, The Perishing Land, an apocalyptic horror tale. Currently, I have two other short stories that can be described as horror that I hope to finish writing/editing over the next few weeks.

So to summarize, I’m working on a humor novel, a fantasy novel, and a collection of horror stories. I’m enjoying the writing, but it got me thinking about some advice I read a while back when I first started writing: should an author stick to one genre? I’ve read arguments saying yes and no.

For those who say yes, the argument goes that a new author should stick to a specific genre in order to build up a loyal fan base. My first novella is the fantasy The Prince of Graves. Let’s say my next novel is Chasing After Vanity. It’s possible that a reader of Graves, if she enjoyed it, might get turned off by Vanity, and leave my writing in the dust as she searches for other fantasy to read. After all, she expects me to follow Graves with another fantasy novel, not a crime story. The end result is I’m spreading myself too thin in my search to find readers.

For those who support casting aside genre-identification, I’ve heard them argue that the writer needs to stay true to their passions. If I enjoy writing children’s literature one year, then feel the need to write a mystery the next year, then I need to embrace that. After all, the quality of my writing will likely suffer if I shackle myself to one genre when I would rather explore others.

I tend to lean to the “no, don’t stick with a single genre” camp, although I do recognize that the “yes” camp has valid points. I’d love to write a children’s book one day, but it might be confusing if someone were to do an author search on my name and see a horror novel side by side with a children’s story.

What do you think? Have you every thought about drastic shifts in your genre?

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