Any second now, my newest short story, Gordy, will pop up for sale on Amazon and BandN. It's .99 and totals just over 5000 words. I wrote it a couple of months ago and while its a cute little story, its definitely not anywhere close to the genre I've been writing and publishing and "pushing". It could be labeled as just lit fiction or it could be Contemporary Christian Fiction or even Inspirational. But definitely NOT urban fantasy or paranormal romance. Or romance anything. Its about a nine year old boy and well... I won't spoil it, but its cute and amusing and heartwarming. You should check it out...
My point is, I was hesitant to publish it, because it's out of genre. Because apparently, even though I've never actually been a part of the trad. publishing world, I have somehow adopted their mindset, which is: brand yourself early on with the genre you write in and ONLY if you are NYT bestseller successful, ONLY then can you genre-hop. There are rules. You have to prove yourself first, blah blah blah. BUT....
On the indie side of things, the landscape looks much different. And the advice is, too. I've heard Konrath and a few others say that a writer SHOULD write outside of their genre, specifically as a marketing tool. (It also flexes your writer's muscles and can be fun). The way he tells it, is that you will draw in new readers with this different genre; readers that may not have read you, otherwise. And once they read something they like, they are way more likely to go pick up other titles of yours, even if they wouldn't normally read a thriller/urban fantasy/mystery/whatever.
Still... even with all this advice floating around from the ones who've blazed the trail, I still wasn't so sure. So, instead, I sent it out to an online mag, still clinging to the whole "I want to be able to say someone published me, someone picked me" mentality. That was six weeks ago. Then, this week, two things happened.
1- I read an article titled "Pick Yourself." by Seth Godin. Awesome article. Definitely read it if you're a writer. And I realized: hell, yeah!!! I'm gonna pick myself! (Sounds kinda dumb unless you read the article). Then #2 happened: I got a rejection letter from the online mag I'd submitted Gordy to. Now, I'd only submitted it to this one mag because they had seen some of my other work and strongly encouraged me to send future stuff, with personal notes about my writing, etc. Which is a far cry from a form rejection letter, so I appreciated it, and felt like that's where my best chance lay. Anyway, the rejection... yeah. It sucked. BUT again the personal notes on my writing. Here is exactly what they said, per the email:
You are clearly a good writer, and this is a sweet and touching story. But we found it a little predictable and we tend to go for something a bit more offbeat. In addition, it seemed to lean perhaps more in the direction of Young Adult fiction. We're sorry this one didn't work for us and another publisher may well feel differently. We're always interested in seeing your work, however, so do please keep us in mind for future stories.
Okay, so I know I might be shooting myself in the foot, airing my dirty (rejection letter) laundry, BUT I don't think so, because nowhere in there does it say the story sucked or is even BAD. Not the plot or the grammar or anything. They actually said I am a good writer, and in the world of publishing, that means FANTASTIC writer. No one says that unless it's true. I think. Anyway, so their complaints were predictability, which is kind of one of the charms of the story, and its more YA than they go for. Which is just a matter of the genre they print in that particular mag. Still, nothing negative about the story itself.
So- I got to thinking, and mulling, and eventually talking to the hubby, and in the end, I decided to publish it. Because- 1. I can- because I am in control in my career, which is awesome, and genre-hopping is not only allowed, its SMART business and 2. I pick myself!