Positioning Yourself as a Writer: Choosing Genre

It’s probably worth your time to think about how you want to get sold as a writer. If you have material worth selling, at some point someone is going to discover this, and they’ll try to package you and sell you as a certain kind of writer.

What kind of writer do you want to be?

I recently read a publishing blog article written by a woman who said that her first book sold was the first book she had written but not really in the genre in which she had really wanted to write – but after having sold that first book, she was sort of trapped in that genre. For her to switch genres, at that point in her career, she would have had to basically start over.

So, think about it: Do you want to write studio projects or indie projects? Character-driven projects or story-driven projects? What genre do you want to write in? What kind of material best represents you as a writer, would be the most fun and easy for you to write?

The more chutes you can fit yourself into, the better – because then agents, managers and producers will be able to identify you as a certain type of writer, and they’ll associate you with that kind of material.

I had a mentorship meeting with a successful horror/thriller/sci-fi screenwriter, and he advised me to pick the genre in which I want to work. Horrors, thrillers and sci-fi overlap as genres. If I want to write thrillers, then spec those out – but he cautioned me against writing a spec comedy as a companion script for my thriller. That’s not an easy sell.

On the heels of this meeting, an independent producer mentor told me that it’s fine for me to go ahead and spec out the comedy, but the truth is likely that if I sell a horror or thriller first and make a name for myself as a horror/thriller writer, no one is going to buy a comedy from me off a pitch. So, if I actually take the time to spec out the comedy and it’s great, someone might buy it, but they would sooner buy a thriller or horror concept off a pitch – and then I’d be getting paid for my time and efforts.

So think carefully about how you want to position yourself and your work. Figure out what you really love the most and is the best for your voice as a writer and write that.

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