I have been writing for a long time, started self-publishing in 2012 . . . [G]iven that I have not yet found an audience, is it likely to kill me that all my stuff is not in the same style? . . . I’ve got romance novellas, romance-adjacent contemporary novels, historical novels. My published contemporary novels are in three (so far) different styles. Two are alternating-first-person POV. One is 3rd/omniscient. One is straight-up 1st person. . .
First, those things are not style. Style is the way you sound on the page, your word choices and rhythms and world views, and chances are great that your style stays the same no matter what you write. I write ghost stories, romantic comedies, caper romances, demons, etc. but they’re all in my style; they all sound like Crusies.
What you’re talking about is genre (romance, adventure, etc.).
It helps a lot if you stick to the same genre because that’s easy to market. Basically, if you shift too far out of one market, you’re starting all over again to find an audience. But that’s shifting from romance to horror, or from sf to mystery, it’s not about point of view or the kind of lovers you write about or demographics. If you write romance, that’s your genre, and even if you switch between M/F and M/M and F/F, it’s still romance. Having people of color or LGBTQ characters won’t have any impact; that’s what the world is made of. What determines your brand, if you will, is the genre and how you interpret it. And since you’re writing stories you want to read, chances are good there’s one genre at the base of all your stories, the way mine are all connected to romance in some way.
I’d like to think that eventually people will find the series and like it *as* a series, and be willing to roll with the differences in viewpoint and style in order to follow the (long) through story and the recurring characters. Is possible, or is crazysauce?
You know, it depends on the stories you write and how well people like them, especially how well they like the characters and the world and want to go back to it. Not everybody will follow you no matter what, nobody ever wrote a book that everybody liked, but in the end, you gotta write what you gotta write, so it doesn’t matter.
Well, it doesn’t matter from a writing standpoint. Remember, I just got a book turned down because all they wanted from me was romantic comedy. So yes, from a publishing standpoint, sticking to one subgenera is a great idea. But you’re not a publisher, you’re a writer; you write ’em, they sell ’em. Write what you need to write; you really can’t do anything else.