Am I Selling Out? Bestselling Author Kevin Tumlinson Illustrates The Power Of “Pivot”

Committing to one genre as a writer may work for some, but not for all. In fact, sometimes exploring other genres can give you the opportunity to test your limits and tap into the market in a new way. Today’s guest, author  Kevin Tumlinson, took the the creative leap when he pivoted from writing sci-fi to thriller. Kevin is a bestselling author, blogger, host of the Wordslinger Podcast and marketing director for Draft2Digital. Tune-in as Kevin breaks down the reasons for his creative pivot and how his “failure” to perform in one genre resulted in success in another. The previous episode was about knowing when to quit; today you’ll hear how quitting (a genre) resulted in a WIN for Kevin Tumlinson.

  • Kevin started as a sci-fi writer and before his pivot had over 40 books in the market

    • His first series, Citadel, launched in 2008
    • He had a nice following, but he couldn’t crack the income code
  • Kevin was doing a podcast with Nick Thacker when Nick challenged him to write a thriller
    • Kevin took the dare, wrote a thriller, and it was a big hit!
    • It earned bestseller status on Amazon
    • The weirdest thing is that out of the 40+ books Kevin’s written, his thrillers got the most attention and success
  • Kevin invested a lot of time into writing sci-fi, but he knew he had to make a compromise
  • Writing these thrillers opened his eyes to the many, creative different ideas he had put aside
    • “It changed my perspective in my career”
  • He turned down Jonny’s offer to ghostwrite for romance – because he wanted to focus on his sci-fi writing
    • He did not leap into a ‘selling-trend’ just because
    • It’s important for authors to make sure their writing is IN LINE with who they are
    • Writing romance didn’t feel right for Kevin
  • Kevin’s criteria for switching genres:
    • Write something people will read
    • Make sure the story fits the readers
    • Look to see if authors made money in that genre
    • Assess whether or not you can keep up writing that particular genre
    • Can you scale?
  • Kevin went to The Nebula Awards in Pittsburgh and came to the realization that he just didn’t like it there
    • He realized he had outgrown science fiction
    • If you’re questioning the genre you’re in, think about pivoting
  • Kevin shares how in Neil Gaiman’s speech, he describes his career as a mountain
  • “You have to do the things that are going to move you closer to your actual goals as an author”
  • Connect with Kevin on his personal website and on Draft2Digital

3 Key Points:

  1. It’s not easy to pivot away from a genre you’ve already invested in; at the same time, don’t hesitate to make that move when you know it’s time to move forward.
  2. Be open to the possibilities that are out there.
  3. Do the things that will move you closer to your goals.

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