Counter to what many have touted, it turns out self-publishing is especially sensitive to genre consistency.
Over the past two years, there were a number of minor fads and trends that had authors jumping from epic fantasy to fairytale retellings, to urban fantasy all within the space of six months.
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In the beginning, BIG PUBLISHING said, ‘Let there be genres,’ and there were genres, and lo, the publisher saw that it was good.
Enter the era of insta-hey-look-I-published-a-book. All the old rules (ostensibly) went out the window. Who needed fans of the cozy mystery genre to discover our books in the urban fantasy genre? Sure, we might lose some people if we went a while (okay years) without publishing something in our audiences’ preferred genre. As long as we just keep hitting that ‘Publish Your Book’ button, we can publish whatever we want in any genre we want. Interestingly, what I’ve learned from years of working in publishing and studying how it works is that we might have let excitement cloud our vision.
On the one hand, authors developed some momentum in KENP pages read and attracted new fans.
However, in every competitive analysis I’ve done on authors who self-publish, those who started with a primary genre and stuck with it for 90% of their books over a 3-4 year period had the best book rankings, author rankings, social media followings, and Google name recognition.
The agent then publisher invested a lot of time, thought, and care into helping the author choose a genre. While brand loyalty was great for book sales, it wasn’t always so easy on the authors.