Does what you write next matter?

I have one novel under my belt. It’s a fairly dark YA historical fantasy, and I am happy to say it is officially done, complete, ended, no mas, finite incantatem. (Yes, I actually Googled that last one to make sure I spelled it correctly. Geek x 2). So now it’s time to move on and start writing something else. But what?

Initially, way back before I had any industry knowledge, I figured my second book would be the sequel to the first, but now I realize that’s not such a great idea. Who knows if #1 will ever find a home, and if it does, it almost certainly will undergo editorial changes that very well could affect everything I do in a sequel. Why put myself through having to do a complete rewrite, or writing a novel for no reason whatsoever? No thanks.
So let’s meet the other contenders bouncing around in my mind.
  1. A super-serious, edgy, contemporary YA “issue book”
  2. A light-hearted, humorous, contemporary YA romantic comedy
  3. A fast-paced YA thriller with magical realism elements that might even work better as an historical
Option 3 seems the obvious answer, doesn’t it? After all, I’ve heard the warnings against genre hopping. But then I stumbled across this fabulous YA Highway post, and I have to say I agree (in theory). One of the things I love most about YA readers is how eclectic we are. We finish a paranormal to pick up a contemporary to move onto a dystopian. Heck, the last book I read was the first in the Gallagher Girls series and now I’m reading Folly. Can these two be any different?
But (and this is a big BUT in my opinion), most YA writers who have successfully genre hopped have already been established when they did so, with several published books under their belts. Me, I’m just starting out on this journey. Does that matter? Let’s enter fantasyland and pretend I choose to write that YA romantic comedy (which is as diametrically different from my historical fantasy as you can get), and it sells. Did I, fledgling newbie writer, just dramatically slash the chances of the historical fantasy making it? If I love the historical fantasy and believe in it with all of my heart, should I specifically tailor what I write next to be a good fit? Am I way overthinking this?
This post is a lot of questions and not many answers, I’m sorry. This has been something I’ve been really thinking about for the past few weeks and I’m still not sure of the answer, so I would love your input.
Does what you write next matter? Is genre hopping within YA a smart move?
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7 Responses

  1. Susan says:

    I think you're definitely over thinking it!!! πŸ˜€

    Look at Lauren Oliver — she debuted with BEFORE I FALL, and her next book is DELIRIUM. Those books are very, very, VERY different. Contemporary versus distopian.

    Write whatever you're feeling most inspired to write. You can always publish the second book under a pseudonym — that's way more common than you'd expect!

  2. Meredith says:

    That's a really good point, actually. And considering I still can't make up my mind about whether I'd rather publish under my maiden name or my married name anyway, maybe I could do one of each. πŸ™‚

  3. Kara Mustafa says:

    When I finished my first contemporary, I wrote another one. It's the book that got me my agent, so I'm glad I stayed within one sub-genre of YA. But, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is the only way to grow! So I think the most important thing is to write the story that's demanding to be written πŸ™‚

  4. Meredith says:

    Thanks, Kara. I guess I'm just going to have to be patient and figure out which idea refuses to let go. πŸ™‚

  5. Andrew says:

    I've been thinking about this myself recently, though in a slightly varied form:

    I'm trying to get an agent for my YA contemporary fantasy, but then worrying about what books I might write afterward, especially since I want to (at this moment, anyway) write adult SF and fantasy.

    Of course, if an agent takes me on for YA, then I'm more likely to keep on writing the YA books I have ideas for. Mostly, those all are pretty different from what I'm querying for.

    But to answer your bold(ed) questions: 1) I think that what you write next may matter, but that you should write what you want to write regardless and 2) that genre-hopping might be a smart move simply because you might pick up readers who focus on a different genre and make them readers of your work regardless of genre.

  6. Meredith says:

    That's a really good point, Andrew. I guess it all keeps coming back to: Write what you want to write!

  7. WritingNut says:

    I agree with Susan, write whatever you feel inspired to write, whatever moves you πŸ™‚

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