I recently gave a presentation to a group of business professionals about how to leverage their book for their success. There was a good mix of entrepreneurs and corporate professionals in the audience; some were already authors and others were at various stages in the process of writing their first book. Following my talk, one author asked whether multi-published authors need to keep to one theme, genre or target audience when writing subsequent books. If, for example, one’s first book is about the joys and challenges of owning a home-based business and is targeted to solo-preneurs, should the next book be along the same lines and geared toward the same audience?
Authors are people too (believe it or not). As such, we are multi-dimensional. People have varied interests. A business owner could be interested in writing about business topics, but she might also have an interest in golf, the theatre, psychology, or gardening. Writing your first book should not type-cast you in a particular genre of writing. However, consider why you are writing your books to begin with. Defining your why is critical to determining the results you expect from your book projects.
If you are using your books to position yourself as an expert, it’s best to tie your books to a particular genre, subject, or interest. In this way readers will come to know you as an authority in a specific area. If, however, you are focused on positioning yourself as a published author and wish to sell lots of books, write on the varied subjects that interest you. Readers will likely come to expect good content and seek the insight you share in your books. Ideally, in either situation, your books will connect readers to you. All of this assumes that your books are well written and edited, professionally produced, and well promoted.
Think about it this way, some popular musicians and vocalists are well-known for performing a particular type of music, but occassionally they might mix it up, so to speak. A jazz musician might add a classical touch to his latest tune, or a hip-hop artist might include a hint of rock in one song. Either way, the artist is known for producing quality work, and the fan base eagerly awaits the next production. The same is true for authors.
Another thought for authors wishing to explore various interests is to include a common thread that links your books. Think about the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. The books are targeted to entirely different audiences, yet they share a common theme. Or, consider author and President Barack Obama, whose first two books, Dreams of My Father and The Audacity of Hope, were memoirs and his latest, Of Thee I Sing, is a children’s book. Okay, granted, he is the President of the United States and practically anything he writes will become popular. However, you also have the option to explore different genres, themes, and styles in your books, and to appeal to different audiences. Try it; you might like it.