Trends

Should I Write Genre Fiction for an Established Line?

Sadly, Heartsong Presents is no more (shut down in 2014). It was a very popular line of Christian romance novels published by Barbour Publishing. However, when I was a young mother with school-aged children, I appreciated the fact that I didn’t have to market my books when I wrote for Heartsong. Instead, Barbour mailed books to subscribed readers every month. The books sold themselves. They did not rely on bookstore shelves or the Internet to sell the books.

Authors who wish to limit their marketing efforts would do well to investigate writing genre fiction for established lines. An established line is an imprint of books, usually defined by genre, published and sold to subscribers, rather than relying solely on traditional commerce for sales. There are a number of them which are viable and acquiring new books all the time. Rather than offering a list here, I recommend authors consult their agents to learn which editors are seeking this type of book.

Advantages to Writing Genre Fiction for an Established Line

  • Genre fiction is extremely focused. Focus includes word count, type of plots, and other factors. If you enjoy writing books made to order, are amenable to substantial guidance, follow instructions well, and enjoy the challenge of creating new and fresh stories within a recognized framework, this could be a great career path for you.
  • Most authors don’t break out with genre fiction. While everyone seeks meaning, not everyone craves the spotlight. This path rarely, if ever, offers a situation where one author sells far and above other authors writing for the same line. To use an example, if you would prefer to order flowers every week for the church altar rather than read the Bible from the pulpit (both being significant to the life of the church), you could be a good fit for writing genre fiction for an established line.
  • Marketing here is generally line-focused, not author-focused. While some authors are more popular than others, I haven’t seen consistent, aggressive campaigns emphasizing one author over another. Granted, ads for lines often highlight books by their most popular authors; but I’ve noticed that some show the month’s offerings. This approach takes pressure off the author who doesn’t enjoy self-promotion. Also consider that as an author’s popularity grows, so does the opportunity to write additional books for the line.

Drawbacks to Writing Genre Fiction for an Established Line

  • Genre fiction is extremely focused. If you chafe under being confined to a specific set of expectations and can write a marketable book outside of a set format, genre fiction writing may not be a good path for you.
  • Most authors don’t break out with genre fiction. The books cater to a particular audience; and the line reaches them, so the author has an idea of how many books will sell. Income from this type of writing can be lucrative. However, most authors won’t find the reach with a line needing to sell books in the seven-figure range.
  • Marketing here is generally line-focused, not author-focused. The primary marketing goal is to convince readers to purchase books in the line based on the line’s reputation. The author seeking to be sought out individually for much publicity may find this way of marketing frustrating.

When considering writing for any publisher, think about your goals, income needs, and personality. Have an honest talk with your agent. She’s there to help you realize your dreams.

Your turn:

Do you read genre fiction? Why? If not, why not?

Have you ever been a subscriber to a line of books? If not, would you consider this option?

Leave a Comment

Popular Story Tropes in Current Fiction

When we think of fiction, we put books in genres based on the story line. Then within each genre, they are separated by subgenres. The Book Industry Study Group has defined over 100 different classifications of fiction. These BISAC codes are what you find on the back of the book. …

Read More

We Live in Amazing Times

I shared a table recently with six or seven others at a writers conference. The writer to my right (right?) leaned in my direction and directed a comment to me. “Please tell me something encouraging about publishing now.” Wow. Put me on the spot, why don’t you? But I thought …

Read More

The Automatic Writer

My coffee maker is on a timer. My thermostat is programmed to different temperatures at night and by day. My computer screen even dims to a softer hue as the day progresses. I try to automate everything I can, believing that the fewer tasks I have to remember every day, …

Read More

Change, We’ve Seen You Before

Change always seems to occur faster than you think but often slower than you think. Most things in society or life are at the same time dramatically different than they were a few years ago, but eerily similar to fifty years ago. If you are an observer or participant in …

Read More

Never Assume Biblical Literacy

It wasn’t long ago that a reference to a Biblical character or a Bible verse would be widely understood without explanation. That is no longer true. Researcher George Gallup said “We revere the Bible, but we don’t read it.” This was recently illustrated in our local newspaper in an article …

Read More

Don’t Sweat the Big Stuff?

Author Richard Carlson and his 1996 book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff encouraged a generation to put priorities in order and prevent someone from missing the forest for the trees. I am afraid many aspiring authors are doing just the opposite by not worrying about the big stuff either. Everything …

Read More

Marketing to Younger Readers

A challenge for book promoters is trying to market to a narrow group of people and discovering they are not easily distinguished one from another.  People are born every day and there is no definable space between demographic markets. Generational identifiers are not scientific, but arbitrary for marketing convenience sake. …

Read More

The Year of Kindness

This past year, my colleagues in Christian publishing have treated me with immense kindness. Thank you. I wish I could say I have witnessed the same kindness in other arenas. If you follow current events even as a casual observer, I don’t need to recount the bitterness and rancor over …

Read More