by Jill Kemerer
Writers today have opportunities previous generations never had. The ability to self-publish books has allowed writers the freedom to write books their way. In the past, an aspiring author needed to sign with an agent in order to get published, and to get an agent, the writer had to be able to categorize her book in a recognizable genre.
It’s still important for writers to know the genre they write. Why? We don’t want to let our readers down. If we don’t know the ins and outs of the genre we write, we basically risk alienating our readers. Nowadays authors are forced to heavily promote their books, so it’s good business to give readers reasons to keep buying them.
In order to respect your genre, you first need to know what it is. A thorough, excellent article on fiction genres is “A Breakdown of the Fiction Genres: Defining Genre Part 2” from The Editor’s Blog (see citation at end of post).
But, Jill, my book features elements of several genres. How do I know which genre it is?
I’ve heard this refrain from many writers over the years. Say your story centers on a divorced woman opening a restaurant and caring for her elderly grandmother. Hottie McGee shows up. Werewolves are involved.
Is this a paranormal romance? It depends. Is the main story about the woman and Hottie McGee falling in love? And they’re fighting werewolves in the process? Then, yes, it’s a paranormal romance.
What if the main story is really about the woman overcoming her powerlessness after her divorce? She does this by opening a restaurant, fighting werewolves and falling in love along the way. Then the genre would be classified as women’s fiction with romantic and paranormal elements.
You’ll have to analyze your story to figure out the heart of it. I recommend reading best-selling books in the genres you think you’re writing to get a feel of what readers want. And, remember, there are genre-specific elements readers must have. For instance, I write inspirational romance. My books focus on a man and woman falling in love, and the story also has a faith element. Without the emphasis on love and faith, my readers will be disappointed.
Do you have a question or tip about genres?
Have a terrific day!!
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Citation: Hill, E. A. “A Breakdown of the Fiction Genres: Defining Genre Part 2”. The Editor’s Blog. October 29, 2012. March 23, 2015 http://theeditorsblog.net/2012/10/29/defining-genre-part-2-writing-essentials/.