I'm not the sort of reader who will read absolutely everything by my favorite authors. I mean, yeah, I've read every Dessen novel, but it's because I enjoy her type of stories. They're character-driven contemporary novels -- right up my alley. If tomorrow she started a series about a zombie-killing werewolf girl (you know, just for instance) I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be rushing out to buy it.
The truth is: I like how, with some authors, I know what I'm getting. I wouldn't call Sarah Dessen formulaic exactly, but there's definitely a certain comfort in knowing what "type" of novel you're guaranteed to be reading. She's an incredible author whose ability to write complex characters and realistic relationships is pretty much unparalleled in my mind. And I love that.
But then on the other side there are authors like Maureen Johnson, who write a bit of everything YA-wise. I haven't read all of her books. I haven't loved every book of hers that I have read. But she's still another of my most favorite authors and (maybe ironically) a big reason for this is how diverse her books are. Even in her contemporary novels there's a good mix of varying types of POV, series and non-series, and character- and plot-driven stories. She's an author who is so far from being "boxed in" to a certain genre or "type" of novel, and that's a little bit of what I aspire to be as a writer.
All of this makes me wonder: is it better to be an author with a strong "brand," like Sarah Dessen? Or is it better to be an author who writes a bit of everything, like Maureen Johnson? Is there even a "best" here, or is it all so unique to the individual writer? So, my question for you - as a reader, what type of authors do you prefer reading? And for any other writers/authors out there, what type of writer would you rather be?
Both of these questions are still things I'm thinking over for myself and I'd love to see what others think.