Many writers dream of achieving what Rob Bryndza had. Not just a bestselling book, but a bestselling series. So why risk it all by switching genres? But, that’s exactly what he did, and now The Girl in the Ice has become an international bestseller, I wanted to discover how this comic, turned romance novelist, turned crime writer made a success of it all. So, I was delighted when he agreed to a chat.
Success was not something Rob expected of his writing. Having used his satirical gift, which had earned him a show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, to inspire a romantic comedy called ‘The not so Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard‘. Despite securing an agent, no publishers would commit to the book but he wasn’t going to let that be the end of his dream to be published.
The power of perseverance
Coco had become so real to Rob that he couldn’t let her go and, thanks to the formation of digital publishing, he decided to release his work independently. Sales dripped in, more slowly than he’d hoped, but he stuck with it and soon, through word-of-mouth recommendations, sales crept up. The perseverance was worth it for, in time, it became a bestseller. Readers asked for more and, a delighted Rob began to grow the novel into a series.
Four years on, it has been downloaded over 400,000 times. Each book has been a bestseller in the UK, US and, in Australia, one of the books even reached number 1 in the Kindle store.
Rob and his Slovakian husband have become quite the publishing team, and when Ján offered to translate the novels into Slovakian, an audience grew there too. Now living in Slovakia, they love to explore the country’s incredible landscapes and historic buildings.
Writers’ minds are always working even away from their desks and, one winter, while taking a stroll along one of Slovakia’s frozen lakes, inspiration peered up at Rob as he swiped away a dusting of snow and stared into the waters below. He wondered what would happen if someone was killed and was found trapped beneath a window of ice. As he continued to walk, his curiosity grew into the premise for a crime thriller.
Pursuing the idea would mean venturing into a new genre. He had already done this, writing a number of stand alone books between his series releases, but this would mean moving even further from what his readers had come to expect. However, he was so hooked by his premise that he decided to make it happen whatever the consequences.
As the storyline formed, Rob realised it would work best in London, though he has woven in the eerie feel of the Slovakian settings he’d considered including a derelict underwater restaurant. The novel took longer to write than his previous ones because he had to get used to writing in the third person, break away from the romance formula and find an ending that would be both satisfying and surprising.
It took several attempts to get The Girl in the Ice right, but he did it.
Going traditional for the first time
Rob was thrilled when a publisher offered him a contract for the book. Impressed by the team at Bookouture, he decided, for the first time, to go traditional. He thought he’d be asked, like many authors, to adopt a pseudonym for the genre but he had such a genuine connection with his loyal readers that everyone agreed it would be a shame for them not to know about his latest book. Still, when publication day came, he was worried what they would think because they mean so much to him. He was touched, therefore, just how how many bought his new book, made supportive comments and gave positive views.
Soon, The Girl in the Ice was a bestseller too. Readers are already asking for more and, as Rob works on the second book in the series, I asked him what tips he would give other authors wishing to switch genres.
How to successfully switch genres
- Write the story calling you: If you have a story burning inside of you, go for it. You’re more likely to write a wonderful story and go the distance with it if you’re in love with the idea. Don’t feel boxed in by a genre you’ve chosen for previous books. Audiences are more open to reading more widely these days.
- Do it well: Write the best book you can. Only after you’ve written it, decide where it may sit in the current market or into which genre trend it may fit. Never write for a trend as, chances are, it’ll have passed by the time you have finished.
- Present for the market: If you go indie, make sure your cover fits your genre and get the best one you can. It may seem like a lot of money, but you want something that justifies and reflects all the effort you’ve put into making it a great book. If you go traditional, your publisher will know the market and will present your book accordingly.
- Stick with it: If you book doesn’t sell well at the beginning, don’t give up. Stick with it. Unless you already have an established audience, it can take time for yours to grow. Word of mouth promotion can be slower but more powerful.
- Love your readers: Engage with them regularly, respond to their messages, interact with comments and thank them for reviews. Be responsive. If your audience loves you, they’re more likely to be interested in buying your past and future books even if you move between genres.