Keeping your brand clean is important. Not clean as in "squeaky clean, nothing dirty" but clean as in "clearly defined" Authors with successful brands stick to their genre and don't confuse their readers by venturing too far out in a different direction. If I had a huge following of fans for my paranormal romance switching my next book to a western suspense novel might throw some of them for a loop. Yet when some genres fall closely together, yet are totally different what do you do?
A) Hope your fan base follows you along on this new adventure.
B) Create a new brand for this new side project.
There really is no C option. Those are your choices, take it or leave it. So I guess in a way there is a C option, it's called just don't do it. I am considering publishing some stories under a totally different genre and because of that, if I do it, I will do so under a pen name. But I have another dilemma, even though I am an indie author I also have been picked up with Ellora's Cave, and I do enjoy writing submissions for smaller anthologies. But those anthology submissions don't always fall into the paranormal romance/paranormal erotic genre. So the question becomes, what do I do? Do I still write outside my genre if it is only for smaller anthologies? Do I just say screw it and write what I want without worrying about my brand I am trying to build?
Right now I have no answers for myself. I do know if I go too far off my path it would require reconfiguring my brand, I think for now dabbling in the shallow end with small submissions might be okay. It's a question of branding vs. getting my name out there for people to take notice. And this early in the game, getting my name out there might be the more important piece of the puzzle.
How do you feel about authors jumping from different genres under the same name? Would you prefer they stuck to one genre and used a separate name to write something completely different? Let us know.