You’ve conquered your writer’s block, scoured over your drafts and designed a killer cover.
But before you hit submit on the publish page you’re asked, “Choose a Genre.”
Restless, you select the first genre that comes to mind.
No big deal, right?
If you have done this or are about to, I urge you to think twice and keep reading.
How to Identify Your Fiction Genre
First things first! What’s a genre anyway?
“Genre is a label that characterizes elements a reader can expect in a work of literature by similarities in style or subject matter.” (List of writing genres, Wikipedia)
You can find a list of all standard genres here.
Why is choosing your genre so important?
As a reader, you probably have a particular genre of books you frequently read. A few of these books might have been very different than other books you’ve enjoyed in the past. They weren’t terrible. Just not what you expected.
Readers will have similar preconceived ideas about your book based on the genre you choose.
For example: Let’s say you’ve written a book about a woman who falls in love with her enemy. The story takes place on a spaceship that travels throughout the galaxy to fight killer robots. The story focuses on the science of space travel and the dangers rogue robots. The woman and the love interest? They call it quits by the end.
You publish the book as a romance novel.
It has romance in it! Hey, why not?
Then the reviews come in. Readers are confused and upset. Why didn’t the love interests stay together? Why were there pages and pages about robots and quantum physics? Who cares?!
What went wrong here?
These readers searched for a new book in the romance category because it is their favorite genre. This book came up in the results because you chose to label it as a romance novel.
However, this book went against what a typical romance reader enjoys. Romance readers want a story that focuses on well, the romance! They may also want an ending that validates their belief in love. Not a fizzled out fling.
It is possible this same book would have faired much better in the science fiction category. These readers would have loved the long descriptions about robots and quantum physics.
However, science fiction readers were less likely to read or search for a book with the romance label on it.
And now with bad reviews, was anyone likely to pick up this book?
How can you avoid this?
Do your research!
- Write down a few genres you think could apply to your book.
- Read positive and negative reviews for books in each of these genres (Amazon.com is a great place to start).
- Get familiar with the expectations and disappointments commonly voiced in these reader reviews.
- Write down the expectations and disappointments and compare them with your book. Which of these needs does your book satisfy the most?
- Pick the genre whose readers your book would appeal to the most.
By taking the time to determine the best genre for your book, you increase the chances of being found by relevant readers. These readers take the time to review, share, and read your other titles. They are vital to any writer who wants to get their books into as many hands as possible.