1.15 – How to Pick a Genre


In this episode, I . . .

Talk about how to pick a genre for your novel.

-Sometimes you just know. My friend Melanie Dickerson writes fairytale romances. John Grisham writes about lawyers in trouble. Both authors are known for their respective genres. Their readers trust them. But their success has earned them the right to try something different. Melanie had to take her Regency Spies of London series to a different publisher. John Grisham wrote a stand-alone novel here and there, one of which, Skipping Christmas was made into a successful Christmas movie that was retitled Christmas with the Kranks.
-Choosing your genre depends on your goals for publication. Those seeking to sell their book to a traditional publishing house might choose differently than those seeking to self publish. The point is to classify the book so that it will appear in a place where readers can find it. If you’re publishing traditionally, that means knowing where it would be shelved in a bookstore. If you’re self publishing, that means knowing which categories to list the book so it will appear in searches.
-If your book is so unique that you are unable to decide where it would be shelved or in which category to list it, know that you are taking a risk. Unique books can break out, but most often they sell poorly because they don’t fit into a place where they can be sold.
-If your novel could fit into a few genres, you need to decide where it best fits.
-If you choose the wrong genre, you will likely either be rejected by an agent or editor, since the story you gave them is not the story they thought they were getting. Or with indie publishing, the book might not sell well or at all—or it might garner some negative reviews if readers were expecting one thing and got another. For indie authors, you can always go in and switch the categories to see if the book does better in another. You can’t do that if you sell your book to a publishing house.
-Study genres well so that you can be sure you call your book the right thing. Go to bookstores, look around, and write down titles of books similar to yours. Google lists of genres and subgenres to help you see what’s out there. That will also help you find lists of published books within those subgenres. Then read lots of those published books to figure out where your book best fits.

Until next time, keep on writing!