Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Genre

Do you know your genre?

I knew my overall genre when I began writing, but I didn’t realize how many sub-genres existed. Or where my work even fit.

Knowing your exact genre is important though. Querying takes time and effort – you want to send your work to those publishers and agents who are looking for your genre. If you’re self-publishing, you have some leeway, but you still need to be able to describe the genre. (Even if it’s partially made up!)

Sometimes a manuscript crosses several genres. Then it’s up to you to select which overall genre best describes it and then look for the sub-genres.

Genre is just as important when it comes to promoting your book. If you’re looking for sites to feature it or host a blog tour, you can narrow the field down by genre. You want to put your book where readers of your genre will find it.

It also helps to think where your book bleeds into other genres. You might have a far wider readership than you think. (Sometimes it might surprise you – I know I was surprised!)

I write science fiction – space opera, and my books have elements ranging from military to romance to middle grade to character-driven. What’s your genre?

A to Z Challenge

42 comments:

Haneen I. Adam said...

I always have a problem categorizing my books. Generally speaking it's sci fi and fantasy, but there's more to it than I can even follow. I honestly don't know how to solve this one :|

P V Ariel said...

Hi Alex,
Yes, this is a wonderful post. sweet and spicey! yes, one should know his genre. I am totally confused at this LOL
Thanks Alex for sharing this. :-)
Best.
Phil

Cecilia said...

Because I started my writing career as a late bloomer I am trying all the genres. I have had anthologies pieces published in just about everything except erotica. I should settle in to one soon. Maybe two?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Haneen, focus on the strongest element.

Cecilia, why settle?

Elsie Amata said...

I'm not quite sure what my genre is. I'm going to guess thriller? There's no real romance, no sic-fi, no fantasy…just the mob =P

Elsie
AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

Allison Bruning said...

Great advice. If you don't know your genre then you more than likely don't know your target market. It's vital that you know who will be reading your book because you can lose a lot of sales and receive bad reviews from readers who don't read in your genre.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

This continues to be a struggle for me - horror, contemporary, women's fiction, literary - sometimes one genre at a time, sometimes all at the same time!

I'm just going to tell whatever story wants to be told then figure it out. :)

Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption
Minion, Capt. Alex's Ninja Minion Army
The 2014 Blogging from A-Z Challenge

Pat Hatt said...

I tend to go crazy and mix in waaaay too many, oh well.

Liz said...

I ran into this problem - i write poems about animals, but my manuscript was also facts about them, so mixed with science.

I got rejection after rejection saying they loved the poems but that the mix of science with it made it too hard to categorise and therefore promote/sell.

Eventually a small publisher who prefers stuff hard to pin in a genre published me so don't ever give up, anyone in this position!

I've never thought of looking for blogs to promote my book... I thought bloggers chose their own... so that is a new avenue to look down, plus the joining of groups, I guess animal lovers would be a good start! Thank you!

Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

Fanny Barnes Thornton said...

Alex, I'm with Elsie because I'm still not quite certain what my genre is. I'm going for thriller but I don't like being nailed down. I want to feel free to write in different genres - but perhaps readers don't like authors being unpredictable?

Bob R Milne said...

I'm all over the place with my genres. The novel I'm currently editing is part horror and part urban fantasy, while the one I've just finished plotting out is much more occult.

Franny Stevenson said...

I write high fantasy and I'm trying now urban fantasy, but I don't feel so confident in that...I believe I need some practice!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Great post Alex, I did not know much about genre until I started blogging. Now I am quite the genre expert thanks to my blog buddies.

Robin said...

I think that the lines between genres and mingling more every day. It makes it a bit confusing for the writer and the reader. However, that doesn't mean it is a bad thing. Diversity might very well be the name of the game. As the writer, you need to know every potential audience for your book so that you market accordingly.

cleemckenzie said...

I'm a genre jumper! Shoot me! Some say you should stick with only one. Borrrring! at least for me.

I write young adult (realistic, contemporary) and MG (fantasy, adventure).

Lisa said...

I have found it difficult to classify my novel Evangeline's Miracle. It is a mystery, with a ghost, yet also is women's fiction in that it deals with a family drama. So, generally I say it's a mystery...

Grammy Staffy said...

What good advice. I am not a writer but I have great admiration for those of you who are.
Thank you for he nice comment you left on my blog. I appreciate you stopping by.

Christine Rains said...

Genre is important to know to target your audience. Most of my stories are paranormal romance, but I recently finished one that is a contemporary NA romance.

kmckendry said...

Currently my genre is fantasy, but I have some contemporary ideas in the works. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think genres are less defined than they used to be but I completely agree with you that a writer needs to be able to state what genre their work is.

Chrys Fey said...

I write in all different genres from supernatural-thrillers to romantic-suspense to dystopia science fiction.
A writer doesn't have to just pick one and stick with it. We should all experiment with other genres. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Elsie, that made me chuckle. I'd say thriller.

Madeline, write first and the genre will come to you.

Liz, you can always ask if they will review or promote!

Fanny, it does work for some authors.

Lisa, sounds mystery to me.

Susan, at least the broad genre.

Chrystal Mahan said...

I write under my own name (published)poetry, non fiction and recipe books. Unpublished is a memoir/self help, vampire fiction and a few other pieces of fiction that I have started. Under my pen name its erotica and erom. In my freelance career my writing is for businesses, so it can be rather dry, except for my entertainment news gig. None of them are really in the genre I want to be in which is thriller/murder/mystery/horror. That is my favorite form of reading.

djinnia said...

i knew my book was contempory ya fantasy, but i never knew it was cross over too.

i discovered this on Reuts Publications page. they have a fabulous listing of genres.

here's a link to mystery. it was a pain to find on their website, but much easier on their twitter account.

http://blog.reuts.com/investigating-the-subgenres-of-mystery/

Melanie Stanford said...

Somtimes it's so easy to know your genre but sometimes it's hard to get the right one. The first MS I queried was time-travel, which isn't a genre. But you can't really say Historical since my MC was contemporary. It wasn't the sci-fi kind of time-travel and calling it fantasy wasn't right either. It was TOUGH.

debi o'neille said...

I'm one of those whose work hovers between two genres. Sometimes more. I've been told it's because I don't focus well and keep my work tightly focused. I don't believe it. I think it's just because I, and my stories, don't think in a straight line.
:-)
Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

Fe said...

Hello, Alex

It's always great to see what you have to say.

Why yes, I do know my genre. I don't think I have any doubt about that one. I have many doubts about many things but not that... :)

Michelle Wallace said...

I'm still not sure what my genre is... leans towards mystery/suspense, but I'm guessing...

Nicole Pyles said...

I have discovered an enthusiasm for horror! I think that is my genre of choice these days. It's really tough though to accept a certain genre as your "choice" genre, so to speak, because so many are so good!

Wm. L. Hahn said...

I think it can be very useful to try and map out your overall genre, and then plot where your thinking, or written works are tending. I took a shot at it for traditional fantasy awhile back on my blog, and used the solar system as a guide! Might be worth a chuckle
http://independentbookworm.com/2013/02/01/fantasy-by-the-planets-my-faults-are-in-the-stars/

sydneyaaliyah.com said...

new adult contemporary romance. It's a long title for a genre, but I guess it touches on all elements of my debut novel. Amazon has college romance and coming of age romance as genre's, too, which fit.

Patricia Lynne said...

My first book I was pretty certain what genre to throw it in, but I later stumbled upon an article about keywords that helped me figure out some other genres it might touch upon too.

~Patricia Lynne~
Story Dam
Patricia Lynne, YA Author

Nicki Elson said...

Marketing to the right audience makes allll the difference.

Cathrina Constantine said...

My recent ms is a contemporary YA/ mystery/romance. It's almost impossible for a book to have one element. You have to know how you want to market the book, I guess.

Lynda R Young said...

I can't seem to write anything without putting in a speculative element. For that reason, write mainly scifi and fantasy and all their subgenres including steampunk and paranormal.

G. B. Miller said...

Eight years of writing has brought me no closer to figuring out my genre.

So I created one.

Quirky.

A-Z Challenge at Father Nature's Corner

Carrie-Anne said...

Sometimes it's trickier to figure out the subgenre, particularly if it fits into more than one. I've got some books that could have a case made for being women's fiction, romance, or literary fiction, outside the main designation of historical or contemporary historical.

J.L. Campbell said...

interesting, Mine are pretty clear cut, except when I'm trying to decide between MG and YA. :(

simple girl..... said...

short and crisp post.. loved reading it ..

Lady Lilith said...

Nice. Once you find a genre you are good at, it is time to find your niche.

Lori L MacLaughlin said...

I write fantasy adventure with strong elements of romance, so... does that mean it could be placed with both fantasy and romance?

Deniz Bevan said...

I've had a hard time narrowing mine down since New Adult has become a defined thing. Mine are mostly historical romance, but the characters are of New Adult age, so...