Think You Can’t Expand into Other Genres? Think Again! – by Debra Johanyak

Think You Can’t Expand into Other Genres? Think Again! – by Debra Johanyak

Some writers become so specialized that they write mainly for a single niche. While this can be lucrative – as long as the target niche continues to publish – and does not become saturated – you can pave an alternate route to more sales by developing ancillary writing skills in other genres.


For example, if you have been focusing on marketing materials by writing blog posts, social media promos, and email ads, consider developing a short video script. Scriptwriting can highlight marketing concepts by emphasizing a visual approach to the content, including relevant dialogue along with innuendo and tone, adding a rich dimension of insight to the creative writing process. And, who knows? You might end up creating a twenty-second video script that the client will love!


Whatever your personal hobbies or interests, you can probably find a way to write about them that will make you more marketable. I love local history, and strolling through towns and villages to read historic site plaques, and unique cemetery markers. I enjoy listening to people’s stories about growing up during memorable global events, as well as simply coming of age to follow – or not – in their parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps. I began writing informal autobiographies for local elders, first as a volunteer, and then as part of a community college grant. Personal satisfaction, not pay, was my reward.

However, last year I was offered the opportunity to write a company history representing two decades of growth and phenomenal success. The founder, raised as a Midwest farm boy, became a self-made business owner without a college degree. Emphasizing integrity and hard work, his company eventually became a source of support and contentment for hundreds of employees before it was sold to a longtime friendly competitor, rendering the owner a multimillionaire, and enriching employees who had participated in profit sharing.

Due to my previous writing experience, along with a short, published college history article, I was invited to organize a company book at a fee that was almost twice as much as I had been receiving for similar non-history projects. The work was not only lucrative, but also enjoyable, and the business owner recommended me to an associate who is considering a book of his own.

My interest in local history also led to writing several plays based on historical female leaders that were presented during women’s history month at a state university.


As a college composition instructor, I have plenty of writing experience conducting academic research, and giving presentations on various aspects of written communication. I developed a specialty niche in women’s communication, and gave a series of talks and workshops on this topic to several professional groups. My ongoing research led to the publication of a book titled Say What You Really Mean (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), which can help anyone become clearer in self-expression, but it is particularly geared toward women who struggle to be honest and open about their feelings and wishes.

Previously, I had developed a workbook that became a textbook (Pearson, 2004) titled Shakespeare and His World based on researched information associated with teaching Shakespeare. Chances are that whatever your “day job” (unless you are a full-time, self-supporting writer), you may be able to develop a specialization where you can establish an expert platform, and write more articles and blog posts about your non-writing work. Publishing a book adds an attractive credit to your portfolio for prospective writing clients, while expanding your writing skills, and increases your marketability to a range of clients.

Your personal life can be a valuable resource. My articles about raising preschoolers and the importance of story-telling have appeared in family magazines. A relative’s dementia decline was fashioned into a short story that was published in a literary journal.

These are just the beginning! Take stock of your interests, experiences, and observations to try your hand at other writing genres. You might be surprised to see how much you have learned that can be shared with readers in other genres.

Have you successfully escaped single-genre writing? Please share your story in the comments box below!


Dr. Debra Johanyak was raised in Akron, Ohio. Her graduate studies included a year in Shiraz, Iran, where she held a teaching assistantship and witnessed the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. Debra began her professional career as an English instructor, and later, as an assistant professor at Kent State University before coming to the University of Akron Wayne College, where she currently is a professor of English. In addition to having her book, Shakespeare’s World published by Prentice Hall in 2004, several of her short stories and dozens of her articles have appeared in various literary magazines and journals.

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