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Successful Marketing For Multigenre Authors: Reaching More Readers, With Dale L. Roberts And Holly Greenland

Successful Marketing for Multigenre Authors: Reaching More Readers, With Dale L. Roberts and Holly Greenland

In this episode of the Reaching More Readers podcast, Dale L. Roberts and Holly Greenland discuss successful marketing for multigenre authors. What are the pros and cons of writing in multiple genres? How it can impact your author brand? They share proven techniques for marketing your multigenre books to the right readers.

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In the Reaching More Readers podcast, @selfpubwithdale and Holly Greenland discuss successful marketing for multigenre authors. Share on X

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About the Hosts

Dale L Roberts black and white photo

Dale L Roberts

Dale L. Roberts is a self-publishing advocate, award-winning author, and video content creator. Dale’s inherent passion for life fuels his self-publishing advocacy both in print and online. After publishing over 50 titles and becoming an international bestselling author on Amazon, Dale started his YouTube channel, Self-Publishing with Dale. Selected by Feedspot and LA Weekly as one of the best sources in self-publishing of 2022, Dale cemented his position as the indie-author community's go-to authority. You can find Dale on his website or YouTube

Holly Greenland


Holly Greenland is a self-published author, content writer and strategic communications consultant. She has worked in marketing and communications for nearly twenty years, including at the BBC, UK Parliament, and award-winning agency Social & Local. Holly is currently completing a Publishing PhD with Kingston University in London, investigating the factors that increase the likelihood of indie author success. Find out more about Holly's writing on her website or connect on LinkedIn.


Read the Transcripts to the Podcast: Multigenre Authors

Dale L. Roberts: With the overwhelming options for marketing and promoting a book, what can indie authors do to get their books into more readers hands? We explore the many faucets of book marketing in this new monthly podcast of Reach More Readers brought to you by the fine folks over at the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Actually, it's the second episode ever, and I say it's new, but it's still relatively new, I suppose.

I am Dale L. Roberts, an award-winning author, as well as that bald headed guy who talks entirely too much about self-publishing over on YouTube.

Holly Greenland: Oh, hello, and I'm Holly. I look after the blog on ALLi, on our website, the Alliance of Independent Authors.

I'm also a marketing and comms strategist, and I'm just completing a PhD in self-publishing, looking at success and what you can do to increase your chances of success.

Dale L. Roberts: Yeah, I feel like I left you hanging there. I felt like I could probably hand off a little bit better, but that's okay. We're flying right on into this, and I'm super excited because we're going to talk about something that is a hotly debated subject, which is single genre versus multi genre authors.

A lot of people are wondering, oh, okay what does that have to do with marketing?

Marketing has everything to do with placement, of where you're placing yourself and your books. To me, I'm just going to start it out with talking about single genre authors and why it should be somewhere that at least most authors should start.

The reason is, I want you to think about this, Holly. Have you been to McDonald's before?

Holly Greenland: I have, yep, of course.

Dale L. Roberts: Okay. So, McDonald's, you can expect hamburgers, fries, and everything else. Would it shock you if you showed up one day and they started selling you just shoes? They don't have food anymore; they start selling you shoes. Would it surprise you?

Holly Greenland: Yeah, I would probably walk back out, I think. Yeah. So would my kids.

Dale L. Roberts: You would scratch your head and see that is the issue. Right now, in the modern self-publishing model as it stands, in order to be heard above the noise of all the millions of other books, you need to stand out and you need to be able to say exactly who you are, what you're about, and be as concise as possible.

Now, I'm not demonizing the multi-genre efforts and such, because as you and I, before we got connected here, I even said, I'm a multi-genre author. So, I'm not going to sit here and point one finger forward as I have three fingers pointed back because I am a multi-genre author.

But share with me, what are some of the complications with multi genre authors versus single genre authors?

Holly Greenland: Yeah, I mean, I think it does, it comes down to that brand thing, doesn't it?

Obviously, there's difficulties in terms of actually looking after the output that you've got. I know that there's some interesting pieces that Orna has done, our head honcho at Alliance of Independent Authors. She's a multi genre, in fact, she goes across fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. So, they're going to be a real overwhelm if you've got all that work to do.

But in terms of marketing, it's about that branding, and with my marketing strategy head on I've been looking at some of the data actually from my PhD, where I did a survey with about 800 self-published authors. I've also been looking across the top bestsellers on Amazon eBooks, picking out those self-publishing authors and seeing if there are some trends in there.

It is incredible how many people I see in there who have got a completely, how would I put it, their front brand has no photos, you may not even know their gender.

One of the reasons I'm wondering about there is that we're picking up some multi genre self-publishing authors there. Now, it's very unlikely with traditionally published authors that people are doing that, but particularly in the romance, romance suspense, very niche areas like mafia romance, people are creating brands that don't even have a photo, you're not even sure what gender they might be, and that I think is really interesting in terms of this genre kind of piece because that brand is so important.

So, that was one thing I thought was interesting, and actually when we spoke on our last catch up, we were saying, I think you said, oh, actually, I think one genre can be the way forward and I can totally see why. But when I looked at my data, only 30 something percent of the self-published authors that came back to me are one genre authors.

30 something percent, so there is a vast majority of authors, and actually in the group that were the hybrid authors. So, these are people who are publishing through traditional and self-publishing, so people have gone both routes at the same time, and about 200 of the authors had done that, they go up to 15 genres.

I mean, I can't even imagine how you would manage that. It's very few of them, but some of them are selecting 15. The average area was two or three, which makes much more sense.

But what I would say in terms of the branding then is thinking, like you say, actually, thinking about yourself as, say, McDonald's, or where are you going to sit yourself as a brand? How do you go into your sub brands and what does that look like and what does that feel like? So,

you might be thinking across pen names at the extreme end and even, big authors, JK Rowling, for example, has gone down that direction of completely dividing off your categories into different names, but also across your social channels, how you divide up your website potentially and newsletters.

Once you get to the point where people can sign up for newsletters, do you divide those up so people can select? So, there are lots of options for dividing up how you speak to people in terms of your brand and that follows all best practice marketing. So, I guess there are a lot of things there to consider.

Have I missed any of the big sort of things that you would think of Dale, in terms of what you should think about when you're setting up that marketing funnel system, in a sense, for your different genres?

Dale L. Roberts: Yeah. Definitely you're going to have to keep them separated, because if somebody signs up to say your email newsletter and they're a fan of your {inaudible} shapeshifter romance, but then you start to email them about at home workouts, they're going to be confused. They're going to be just absolutely like, what's going on here?

I guess there's two avenues that we can explore right now, and I would love to hear your insights on it.

There is the author that will put everything that they have underneath one name.

So, in other words, Dale L. Roberts, I've got the workout books and I've got the books about education. And of course, more recently I started on Kindle Vella doing horror books and such, and I'm still doing it all underneath the one name, but I know when I communicate on given avenues, on each one of those. I don't try to mix those up, but then you look over at to someone like, say Joanna Penn, JF Penn, separating those two out, or even someone like Michael La Ronn, who, I think he even said to me personally at one point or another, big shout out to Michael, was he regretted having that split in the name because it just created so much more work.

So, when you were looking and studying some of these multi genre authors, how many of them were separating with pen names and how many were putting it all underneath one brand name and how successful were each one of those?

Holly Greenland: You know what, I'm at that point now where I'm going right down into that sort of level of detail.

So unfortunately for today, I haven't got that level of detail, but that's one thing that I'm really keen to look at.

I think it's interesting with Michael, because yeah, he's had them apart, he's had them together and actually he's talked a lot about now, bringing them under one name, but actually thinking about that look and feel on your cover is a really important area for him.

Even between those sub genres, making sure that, I think he's always got that kind of same location for name, same location for title, but very much changing typeface, colours, look and feel, so that even for his audience who are connected in one genre, they can pick out the bit they're most interested in.

Then for some who are happy to be flexible across both or more, they can look across the whole piece.

So, I think that's interesting, quite a subtle kind of visual breakdown once you get into the collections that people have got. That's something I'd love to know more about, actually, for when I return to my two series.

So, I've got a murder mystery series, very much aimed, I expect mainly at women, but it's a kind of cosy mystery, essentially. Then on the other hand, I've got this sort of adventure series, middle grades, which I've been writing with my son, which is quite good fun. We've got a few more we're thinking about doing and at the moment, we've only done it really by look and feel. So, illustration for the children's side, photography kind of darker on the other side, but I've not yet thought about how I am going to divide that up actually across where I'm placing them on the sales platforms and on my website. So, there's a lot to think about, but it does seem to work for a lot of people.

Dale L. Roberts: Now, are you thinking about doing two separate names all together or will you put it underneath all one umbrella?

Holly Greenland: So, at the moment they both sit under the same thing. I've got, I think on my cosy I've got Holly Greenland, and then on the other I've got H Greenland, because I went with G Yardley for my son. So, it might be that I will go with something completely different, because I think once we get to a point where we've got a few in that series for the middle grade, I'm thinking of returning and trying to do maybe a sort of quick release, and in which case there's an opportunity there for me to think about that again. Whereas, originally it was a bit of a family project, as I think a lot of people found after that COVID point. So yeah, I'm in that decision point at the moment, so this is interesting.

Dale L. Roberts: Yeah, we have to give the consumers credit. We have to give readers the credit that they're not dumb, all right. They're going to know, when they see something that is different than what they're used to, they're going to probably tune it out, and hopefully they're not going to disown a perfectly good author.

I was reading Werebear shape shifter, now Dale's doing push up books, what's the deal? I don't think they're going to disown me. They're going to probably just discard that.

At what point do you think will it get if I'm using the same name that they become exhausted and that they give up on me?

Because let's say I go from doing fiction to doing nonfiction and I stick around nonfiction for a while. Does that mean that I'm going to lose those readers in the long term? Are they smart enough to know Dale's going to return to it? How do I build some safeguards in place to make sure those readers come back to me when I do return to fiction?

Holly Greenland: I think it's probably thinking about that ongoing marketing strategy. So, making sure you're still engaging with that original audience. Now, whether you want to talk about what you're doing in your writing with that audience or whether you actually just want to keep in touch with them about the genre that they're most interested in. You maybe even can release some small snippets about that particular genre, extra pieces that they can engage with while they're waiting for your next piece to come out.

I think one particular area for self-published authors, there are quite a lot of us who also, like you say, have this fiction/ non-fiction.

I know for Orna, she has a lot of books around, of course, because of her specialism, around creative writing, about setting up as a self-publisher. Now that area, she's kept completely separate, as I understand it. That sits under a whole other brand, because that would be a particularly strange kind of mix to get if you've been buying poetry, and then you're suddenly fed, oh, and actually, this poet can tell you how to publish.

It's a slightly strange journey to take and keeping that really quite separate, but keeping in touch with, say, your poetry readers through your newsletter, through snippets, through upcoming, so that you're keeping them on your journey with you.

But as you say, I mean, what you can't do is get to that point of overwhelm, where you're trying to just release, release, release across all of those different areas.

But I think it's really important to keep in touch with that audience in the way that they expect from you as well in that same voice, that same brand, speaking in the right area about things that interest them, and just keep them ticking along until you're ready to release again. My feeling is that would keep them going.

Dale L. Roberts: I love the fact that you said something that was on my mind, I was thinking about it the whole time, was engaging with your readers and it's email marketing. Email marketing, email list building. A lot of authors have a lot of reluctance and reservations. What do you think is holding most authors back from starting an email list and communicating with their readers?

Holly Greenland: That's an interesting one. I know I've had some reservations about that. I think part of it is, you have this sense that unless you've got 10,000, 100,000 people on your list, it's not worth it, and how do you ever get there? It almost feels overwhelming, but everyone has started with a list of.

Dale L. Roberts: Zero. They go goose egg.

Holly Greenland: And then gradually, it keeps building, and actually those are those core people. So, even if it is quite a small list, they're the people that, oh, they get reminded about you and they remember to tell someone when they're asked, oh, what have you been reading or have you got any recommendations? They're your advocates. The people that are engaged enough to actually sign up proactively to get messages from you are so much more important than a lot of people that may cross your paths, maybe on a social media channel. There's sort of levels of engagement, essentially, and those people on that email list are going to be your real advocates.

So, I would say probably what's holding people back will be that fear of trying to build it up. But you have to start, unfortunately, from zero and build and build, and hopefully you'll feel the benefit. I mean, how do you find it, because you've got a big following, I'm guessing, on your email list?

Dale L. Roberts: I see a lot of them that they're overwhelmed. They do, they look at it and go, how am I supposed to ever get any? I'll probably just get 10 subscribers.

Or some people think it's really complex and then it's very complicated, but it's actually relatively easy when you've got different services.

Now, this is not ALLi's endorsement, this is just Dale's words here. You can look into email marketing services. My preferred one's, MailerLite. There is ConvertKit, there is MailChimp, there's Author.Email. There's so many different services.

The most important thing is trying to find something that can work within your budget and has some tutorials available. If you can find some tutorials on YouTube or online somewhere that you can consume easily, I would say go with that.

So, the reason why I love MailerLite is they have a full course that will walk you through that.

I think that this would be a fun one to explore on a later episode where we can deep dive into email marketing, because this is one of the biggest missing puzzle pieces in a lot of authors lives, and it actually plays an important insurance policy in an event like this where you have to separate your horror books from your self-publishing education books. I'm pointing a finger here at me.

Having separate lists is going to be important because the people that want to read my horror work aren't going to be the ones that want to learn how to write horror books, or nonfiction books for that matter, and so I think building that email list is definitely going to be smart because there is a lot of downtime in between the time I've written my Vella series to my next novella or novel. So, we'll deep dive into that email marketing.

I think other ways to position yourself in a way that you can still communicate with your readers could be a social media. A number of places and a lot of people think that you have to be ubiquitous, you don't have to be everywhere. Pick one good social media avenue. Find what resonates with you as far as a social media avenue that doesn't have you completely sacrificing your integrity or everything that you're about.

For instance, I hate Reddit for with every fibre of my being. I just do not like it, but Reddit is really good for some authors out there to communicate with the readers and build a following over there and communicate with that following.

What has been your experience with marketing through social media, and especially how it would work for a multi-genre author?

Holly Greenland: One way to do it, and I've heard from quite a lot of authors that do this, is literally dividing up your channels. So, you might go Instagram only for your romance novels, and you've decided to keep Twitter or X for your non-fiction, and you could just completely divide the channels.

That is one way of making it really simple in terms of management. You're not trying to shift between different profiles. You're not trying to shift between tone within one space. You can just divide them off.

So particularly, I'm very active on LinkedIn, for example, because I do a lot of writing and commissioned writing, which is very different to my personal writing.

So on there, I could see if I was going to write something about self-publishing marketing, that's where I would be starting to build a bit more of my momentum, might be on that kind of really quite formal channel, and then thinking of going over to Instagram or to Facebook, particularly for say the cosy mysteries where I know there's a big, a lot of forums, all those groups that I can engage with and do engage with on a sort of regular basis, but wouldn't really be right if I was writing about democratic engagement.

So, you might actually want to divide up your channels, and that can really help just in your mind, planning what you're going to do from day to day without getting yourself confused between various profiles. So, that would be, I guess, my approach.

Dale L. Roberts: Yeah, I love it because then you're not having to flip everywhere, and I think therein lies the complexity of going multi-genre versus single genre, and this is one of the reasons why I try to tell new authors that don't have at least, three to six publications underneath their belt of one genre is, when you start to go and dabble into those other things, you're going to start to spread yourself thin.

You're adding a few more plates to spin, and ultimately one plate is going to fall off if you haven't mastered some of the more basic fundamental structure of self-publishing and getting yourself out there in a way that readers can connect with you and resonate with you and really be invested in you.

That's really what it comes down to. Again, not demonizing going multi genre, because I'm doing it myself.

I have the luxury and I have enough finances between my books and the YouTube channel and everything else that I can do that, that I can hire out and do those type of things.

But if you're a cash strapped author with a ton of creativity, try to funnel that creativity into that one single genre. Become absolutely undeniable, become the person to follow, the author to follow and that way, when you do pivot, a few of those raving fans are probably going to come along with you for the ride.

Now, I'm not going to say all of them. There's going to be some overlap, but not a lot of overlap. Trust me, there were so many times when I was telling people, hey, I was pivoting to horror last year and people were like, oh my gosh, you're going to crush it, you're going to kill it.

No, I'm not. My following is not going to be invested in my horror series, and that's the realistic approach to things. I do know this.

Holly Greenland: Did you have to start from scratch in terms of your marketing? Were you like, I'm starting again, almost?

Dale L. Roberts: I'll be straight up honest with you. Last year, I was just so focused on the craft of writing fiction, because I was working with a writing coach, that I didn't spend any time marketing, beyond just mentioning it on my YouTube channel.

Now going into next year, once I have my next nine books launched in nonfiction, as soon as that set on pretty much autopilot, I'll be able to return to fiction. I'll finish out my Vella series, and then I'm going to start to write novellas and novels based in this whole universe that is set through the Kindle Vella series.

So, I have a whole plan laid out, and part of that plan is going to be, of course, are ready for this? Email list building. And of course, the next thing is going to be getting a website. That's one area we didn't tackle on. Is it a necessity? No, but it is good to have a hub to send your readers to just in case, just in case you get de-platformed for whatever reason. It does happen to a fraction of authors out there, but I'd hate for somebody to be listening to this that wouldn't at least get that fair warning that having a website, whether it's free or premium, I'd recommend premium if you can, but having a website is a great way to bring your readers. So that way, they know exactly what you're doing, what you're about, what they can expect in the very near future.

Boy, we absolutely blasted through our time together, and I feel like we could probably easily keep going on about single genre versus multi genre authors.

If there was one way for you to summarize exactly what we've been talking about here, Holly, what would that be?

Holly Greenland: Do you know what? It goes back to what we were saying last time that there's no magic bullet in that it's going to work for some people and for other people they're going to find actually, I've tried, I've moved out into another genre and I'm going to go back.

I think it depends on your experience across genres and how much time, energy, resource you've got to try and market those very specific genres, those very specific audiences, and never forgetting that each one has its own target, its own audience, and its own tone. Really thinking carefully at the outset, I would say, if you're going to go down that route, but it's absolutely possible.

And actually, it's a big benefit of self-publishing. You're not with a traditional publisher who's going to say, no, we like your thrillers, we want another one. The big benefit for us is we can go, do you know what, I'm going to try horror. That's what I want to do. It's something I'm going to enjoy.

So, I guess don't let it put you off, but have a really good think about how you're going to set up that marketing at the start.

Dale L. Roberts: Perfect. If you guys enjoyed today's episode, please make sure that you follow the Alliance of Independent Authors, Reaching More Readers podcast. We're going to be here every month.

Next month, we're actually going to be talking about one of my favourite topics, categories. So, on behalf of Holly, thank you so much for tuning in here, folks. This is Dale, and we'll catch you next month.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/


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