QUESTION: In a recent interview, a famous author said that she has reinvented herself (changed what she wrote) three times. Why did she do this?
Almost everyone who writes long enough for the NY conglomerate publishers has to reinvent themselves or leave publishing.
Markets die. For example, the historical romance market has faded drastically over the last five years although it's trying to make a comeback. Many of its writers started writing contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense.
Publishers die or drop lines, and some authors are trapped in contracts that won't allow them to move their successful series to another publisher or write anything in direct competition to their series so they have to make a major change in direction with a new and very different series.
Selling numbers fall to a point that no publisher wants her books so the author has to start over with a new name.
Authors change. One successful paranormal romance author lost her young child, and she left PNR and started writing inspirationals.
Some authors get bored.
Other authors are trend whores (their term) who change with the shifting popularity of types of books.
The danger with the constant shift in types of books is that you lose fans every time you make a shift, and you have to work extra hard at marketing yourself to a new group of people.
The most successful way to reinvent yourself is to build a brand with a certain type of books, write at least six, then start a second series or type of book that shares many of the same readers. Then you publish one book of each type every year. A good example of this is Jim Butcher with his urban fantasy DRESDEN FILES and his traditional fantasy series.