Write In The Genre You Read?

I touched on this issue in a post on my previous blog. I’m addressing it again. Consider this more of an update rather than a re-post.

A piece of advice I see often is to write in the genre you like to read. I’m not sure this works for me. There is no one genre that I read. When I tally up titles and see if there is a leaning toward any particular genre, there is none.

In terms of what kind of fiction I like to read, the list is big and varied: 

  • Historical Fiction
  • Mystery
  • Thriller/Suspense
  • Romance
  • Women’s Fiction
  • Young Adult
  • Paranormal/Supernatural
  • Science Fiction
  • Speculative Fiction
  • Adventure
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Mythology/Folklore
  • Literary Fiction
  • Sagas/Epics

Of course, much of the above overlaps. Still, you get the picture. Given that, does the advice of writing what you read apply to me? Probably not.

I think the advice is for people who are trying to write in a genre because it’s currently hot and to advise them against worrying too much about writing to market. Yes, publishing is a business. However, you’ll do a better job of writing if your story is one you want to write as opposed to just what you think will sell.

That said, what genre applies to my books? Nairobi Ndoto is Women’s Fiction with some overlap into Crime Fiction. My next book, set in Vienna, is definitely Crime Fiction and falls into the Suspense category. (Both books have an expat angle, so that could be a subgenre.)

Most of the ideas I have for additional stories fall into Crime Fiction. While writing Nairobi Ndoto, I found that I really enjoyed writing the crime aspects of the book. I think this is going to be my genre going forward.

However, it’s not because it’s what I read most. It’s because I find it fun.

My First Reading

My reading at Shakespeare & Co. Booksellers went really well. I was blown away and awestruck by the turn out. As a new author, I had hoped for a handful of people – instead, we had the place fully packed! I am so grateful to everyone interested in Nairobi Ndoto who came out to hear me read. I hope everyone enjoyed the reading as much as I did.

Behind The Scenes

I thought I would share a little bit about where and how I work. First off, I’m a plotter. I can’t write without an outline…and I’ve found that I also need something bigger and more visual than an outline. I need a large, foldable (so I can carry it with me) crime board/timeline.

Of course, there’s a lot that goes into the outline and timeline. I have various notebooks filled with ideas, research, and random thoughts.

Finally, when I’m ready and fully prepared, I write. Here’s my home office. This is where the magic happens. By magic, I mean writing, rewriting, revising, editing, and sometimes staring at the computer screen because the words aren’t coming out so easily on a given day.

And now, back to writing!

Finding A Community

Writing can be a solitary practice, isolating even. It certainly feels that way for me sometimes. I work from home and am on my own except for my two dogs. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dogs. I also have a nice home office. The setup is spacious with lots of natural light, free of distraction, and filled with everything I need. But it’s still just me in there, alone.

I’ve found that what I need isn’t just people in general. I need other writers. I need a writing community. It’s hard to find that when you’re an expat, especially when the language of your host country isn’t your writing language. (I say writing language because not everyone writes in his or her native language.) I tried to find a writing group in Vienna, but Covid made things hard. Now that we’re out of the pandemic, I realize that Covid wasn’t the issue. There simply isn’t anything for me here in terms of a writing community.

So, I looked online. I also researched some of the authors whose books I enjoy. To my surprise, I found two groups: Crime Writers of Color and Sisters in Crime. I’ll join Sisters in Crime in January. I’ve joined Crime Writers of Color last month and I’ve already reaped benefits.

I found not only social interaction but also information and resources. I found a real community. I’m so excited to have found these two organizations. It’s going to help me a lot as I work on my next novel. (I wish I had this when I wrote Nairobi Ndoto, but that book is not crime fiction.) Writing is a lot less isolating now. I feel like I’m a part of something bigger. I feel like I belong.

The Challenge of Book Promotion

My latest challenge is promoting Nairobi Ndoto while working on the next book. Engaging on social media, contacting book bloggers, looking up contests, and running a giveaway takes time. I’m happy to spend the time, but I need to balance that with writing.

I imagine this will be a process of trial and error until I get it right. I’m going to try limiting book promotion to one hour on one day of the week. This can be anything from research, to social media strategy, to requesting reviews, to creating assets that I can use in promotions. Then, on the other days of the week, I’ll engage on social media briefly – just enough to interact with people and sometimes post something. We’ll see how that goes.

I’m hoping this will be enough so I can focus more time on writing.