Genres are probably the most useful and arbitrarily frustrating aspects of books, films, movies, podcasts, art, or anything you could possibly make creatively. No creator really wants to think about where their products will go. Most of us just want to create and put something we love out into the world. Yet we all know the frustration of the customer, searching and searching through the weeds for the product they want to spend money on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “Why can’t I find that kindle category. It was there yesterday and I wanted to find more books there! Damn you Amazon!” While Amazon, Kobo, and other search engines are constantly tinkering algorithms and site design unless something hits all the standards of a genre we can struggle to find it.

Example? I love romance in my fantasy and I love romance in general AND I love fantasy in general. If I want to find a book where the romance is a central, but not the central aspect of the plot in a unique fantasy world with a plot arising not from the romance, but something else…I have to weed through so many shifter romances and random books. The core of what I want is a fantasy book with a strong romantic through line. In fantasy I can click romance or non-romance, but both rarely find me what I want.

The books I’ve found? Generally came from fantasy sections, but outside of Kushiel’s Dart most were still buried.  This is most evident in ebook stores, but its always been a problem. As a self-published author, I have struggled with classifying my stories. However, my erotica/romances are relatively easy to categorize once I figured out how most readers did. The problem with Science Fiction or Fantasy is they’re loaded with useful sub-genres and then you have Science Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Contemporary Science Fiction, Space Opera, Magical realism, etc. etc. When a story crosses genres you’re pretty much left saying a hail Mary and hoping things work out.

So how do you find books you like? Fellow authors, how do you classify your books so people  can find them, and know what they’re getting?

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9 thoughts on “Whose Genre is this Anyway?

  1. I understand this both as an writer and a reader. I initially marketed my first novel as a dark fantasy. More than 50 rejections later, I was talking to another writer friend, and she told me that a LOT of fantasy novels are marketed as paranormal romance even if that wasn’t the only genre they fit into like the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris. They’re in the fantasy section, but they were apparently marketed as paranormal romance. This was a huge eye opener for me, because I thought my story was dark fantasy with heavy romance elements, but the problem is it’s broken into two parts, and the main villain hasn’t yet been revealed. That’s a huge problem for a dark fantasy, but with a manuscript marketed as romance, the biggest issue is the status of the OTP’s relationship. So when I get around to editing it for the umpteenth time and *shudders* go through the gauntlet of agent searching again, I’ll have a better way to market it. Though even paranormal romance is still a huge sub-genre encompassing so much.

    We seem to like the same types of books! I can actually think of a few that you might love. Are you on Goodreads at all? I could recommend them to you there if you want 🙂

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    1. I do have a Goodreads! I just got one and am still learning how to use the site,
      but if you want to friend me this link should work?
      Maybe?
      https://www.goodreads.com/friend/i?feature=friend-invite-url&i=LTM1Mzc1MTEwNDY6NDM5

      The marketing part of genre naming is so difficult because as a reader it can be annoying to find a Sookie Stackhouse book when what you want is a Sword & Shield, but marketing wise the paranormal romance (or say urban fantasy) are HUGE draws right now. It’s a subtle shift in marketing and naming that changes how everything is percieved. As a writer it can be great if you begin experimenting, but depending on what you write it really can be an overwhelming task to figure out exactly what you should market as…and it can change the moment a genre gets over saturated and readers lose interest.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Friend request sent! If you like what I think you do per this post, then I have a few recommendations I can send you.

        The publishing world is so volatile and subjective. Paranormal romance has been big for a really long time, and I think it might stay that way for a while, because there are so many different types of it. Same with urban fantasy, but I know YA especially dystopian YA is becoming saturated, BUT writers are starting to switch up how they do it. You won’t find a lot of Hunger Games or Divergent type books so much anymore, but you’ll still see tons with young protagonists. It’s becoming more mainstream and less a niche as in YA is just becoming another type of genre like fiction, fantasy, sci-fi etc. It just has to be original enough to stand out.

        I’m hoping the paranormal romance with angels isn’t overly saturated by the time I get myself together hehe. I’ve seen some books with that, but not a whole lot and none quite like the plot of mine, but who really knows.

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      2. Accepted the request!

        As for paranormal romance with angels? I sawa few when I was in the B&N the other week, but they come in and out of fashion very quickly. I think the thing about angels and paranormal romance is playing up a unique element and having a cover that stands out hard. More so than other YA or in general the cover has to capture the eye intently. After that play up what stands out in the blurb or summaries you share!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yassss! I’ll see if I can recommend some stuff to you.

        I’ve noticed that especially with YA. The Maximum Ride by James Patterson is the one that stands out most for me, but I also added a book called Moonborn that’s about that, and there are a few others. Mine isn’t YA, though again, that genre is becoming all encompassing lol. I think my characters are a bit old (in their 20s) to be considered YA. I’m not really worried about it at this point though 🙂

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  2. Looking for books can be a bit like throwing darts while blindfolded. Sometimes I rely on bloggers’ advice, sometimes the Amazon “also bought” section is helpful, but it’s kind of hit and miss. I like fantasy romances too, but I need to find ones that don’t have annoying writing tics or annoying characters, and of course that’s a very subjective thing for which there’s no category.
    Trying to categorize my books as an author is somewhat easier, but I’ve had some problems with book promotion services. For instance, they have a category for Fantasy and Romance, but not Fantasy Romance. They do have Paranormal Romance, but I don’t think my book really fits that. You’ve brought up a really good point about cross-genre stories. There might be readers out there who would love them, but are looking in the wrong category. I guess categories are not always the writer’s friend, and you just have to hope there will be enough word of mouth to help those readers find your books in other ways.

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    1. I am so with you on the “annoying writing tics or annoying characters”. It may be subjective, but I think there’s large groups of people who feel similarly in that regard. People who like romance and fantasy…but find romance may be too sweet or not fantasy orientated enough. That makes it very difficult unless you know others with similar tastes.Maybe that’s the benefit of Good Reads, we can make our own shelves as readers and writers to sort of make a more accurate recommended box.

      I’m glad you’ve found categorizing your books easier! Promos and marketing over all I find to be so…experimental by nature and you don’t get immediate results, which makes experimenting harder. I remember reading a post on reddit where an author switched their cross-genre book to a different category and went from having ten sales to 50 under three weeks. They reported back late that they sold over a 100 books, which is amazing. But it really shows how categories can play a huge role in how readers find us….or don’t.

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      1. Yes, I think Goodreads is also helpful. I don’t know enough people there yet with similar tastes to mine, but it is a really awesome place to find like-minded readers.

        I’ve got to play around with the categories more. If it makes that much of a difference in sales, it’s worth a try. Thanks for the info!

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