OK, I admit it. When it comes to writing I have jumped from dating, to project management, to cooking, and now middle grade fiction. But I have three perfectly good reasons for all the bouncing around:
1) When I have something to say, I write about it.
2) I have not sought representation so I haven’t wasted anyone’s time.
3) I can afford to self-publish the right way (editor, illustrator, cover art).
To be honest, I truly enjoy writing for writing’s sake. I’ve been a hobbyist since the 6th grade when I wrote poems in class. Here’s one of them:
Loveliness is watching the sun rise, looking at blue skies, having a dream
Loveliness is eating and drinking, laughing and singing, being with dad.
But most of all loveliness is watching stars in bed.
So it’s not the greatest, but I was 12, OK?
Anyway, when I grew up and faced the reality that authors didn’t make tons of dough, I decided to be a TV reporter so I could make at least a little dough. All the while I had book ideas in my head just itching to get out. So when the Internet came into my life, I fell hard. I knew then that I could write for hours on end and not get arthritic fingers. Soon afterward, the self-publishing train arrived and I jumped aboard.
Long story short, I decided it was time to get those book ideas down in bytes. Along the way I spent lots of money, learned the perils of publishing, and even created a blog talk radio show to help others do what I did. I also read lots of books on writing, and after four self-published books, I have now figured out my author self. Going forward I am going to use all my acquired knowledge in the kidlit space. With the help of my critique groups and courses, I will try to write a really good book, then eventually seek representation.
Which brings me to the question why be a multi-genre writer? Personally I see nothing wrong with it if you have something to offer in several areas. What I’ve learned from listening to some agents is that it confuses your fan base — they don’t know what to make of you. I get that, and I am sure that is true, but other agents say if you do choose more than one cookie from the jar make sure you use a different hand. That is, a pen name. Well, that begs the question: what do you do during interviews (if you get any) or at book club conferences? Who will you be ‘in-person’?
After my first MG book is published, I plan to stick with kidlit as my real self. Regarding my existing books — of which only scant few are aware — I don’t think my new focus will confuse anyone. Again, the advent of self-publishing allows you to do what you feel. In fact, while writing for kids, if I get the itch to write in another genre I can always self-publish those books and use a pen name. Just think of it: I could be traditional and indie at the same time. Hmm…sounds familiar.