Here are some suggestions that I recommend to my author clients who are intending to mix genres.
Pick the alpha element as a tag
When you’re starting out, choose a label that’s easy to understand and sell. Pick the alpha element in your story — romance, mystery, paranormal — and give your book that tag to provide the marketplace with an initial perspective on where you’re coming from. The other elements in the story, whatever they may be, will remain evident and eventually create the context of your brand identity.
After you’ve established a successful track record your brand will be you, your name. That’s one of the reasons Suzanne Collins, Stephen King or Amanda Hocking can combine and meander through more than one genre at a time with impunity.
Build your own bandwagon
Any mixed genre story needs to come from your heart rather than from strategic calculation. Avoid the distraction of trendy fashions like Micro, the posthumous cross-genre technoscience adventure bestseller by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston, where the half-inch tall grad students get carried off by sadistic beetles. Shades of Gulliver’s Travels and Fantastic Voyage.
Sustain the integrity of the world you’ve created, however unique and unusual it may be, without jumping into any off-the-wall devices. Don’t pile one genre on another for the sake of cliff-hanging thrills or bravura embellishment. If your romance has elements of the supernatural, don’t unnecessarily slip in a murder just for good measure. Use the style and elements of more than one genre only in service of the story and its authentic characters.
Never take no for an answer
Don’t quit if the door is slammed in your face. Try another way to get that agent’s attention, like in a blind date or pitch session at a writers conference, or through a mutual friend. Be sympathetic to the agent, publisher, or retailer’s plight. From their perspective, genre purity makes a book faster and easier to sell. Be persistant and convince them that you’ve got a great story. That’s your best ammunition.
Genre is a convenience, a traditional device that the conventional process of commercial publication has been using awkwardly for centuries. But it didn’t stop cross-genre authors Nathaniel Hawthorne and Charles Dickens all the way up to Alice Sebold (The Lovely Bones) and Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife).
Original post here.