Legit Author Bullsh*t Step Three
Updated: Jun 7, 2019
What genre do you write?
Ah, the dreaded question. There is nothing trickier than an author trying to pigeonhole their work into a tight little category for SEO’s and tags. It hurts trying to condense your beautiful, encompassing tome down into a handful of descriptive words.
You spent months, nay years, weaving the tale of the fair maid and her dashing prince touring over a wasted landscape in search of water and alien artifacts, their journey fraught with monstrous encounters, social pitfalls, and a love which dare not speak its name. Now, after grueling bouts of terror-inducing editing, painstaking cover design, and rounds of unsympathetic beta readers, it’s ready for sale. You click the upload button, and gasp, horrified, as the ever-growing list stares back at you.
Please select a genre.
Fantasy, of course. It has dragons, elves, and a staff-wielding villain.
No, wait, Sci-Fi, to cover the alien bounty hunters and holodeck resort.
Adventure? The non-stop swashbuckling action is sure to get even the weakest heart thumping.
Oh, I’ve got it. Romance. The heroes’ passion for each other drip from every page like the glaciers of Avgrethon under a blistering sun.
Your book may be all of these things, and more. However, search algorithms only allow you to pick so many. While this is designed to make it easier for the reader to find what they’re interested in, if your book has mixed elements, it could hamper you from finding your widest audience possible.
You’ll also face the question in normal, everyday conversations with fellow writers. They’ll ask politely in the natural course of discussing the trials and errors of novel writing and book promotion - what genre is your book?
So innocent, so well-meaning, yet it can send you into a state of panic. How do you answer? If you say romance, the death-defying adventure may be overlooked. If you answer fantasy, rip-offs of Tolkien will dance in their heads. They’ll never understand the beauty of your work, the utter amazingness, from just a single word!
This inevitably results in the drawn-out, yawn-inspiring over-explanation. “Well, technically, it’s a fantasy. But these aliens are hunting them down and they have to escape from an exploding building, and then there’s some kissing. Did I mention my love interest is a vampire? He’s so tragic.”
You want people to be interested in reading your book, but you don’t want to bog them down with too much information. It gets confusing, and scares them off. The last thing you want is a reader too confused and scared to pick up your book.
So, keep it simple. Bite the bullet and pick one, maybe two, genres to shove your novel into. Narrow it down as much as possible, but also keep in mind categories that will encourage better sales. Fantasy is a good category for anything not involving “the real world”, or has elements of the magical and divine. And if your story has a strong romantic plot, even if it’s not the main focus, always slap it under Romance. The Romance genre is a top seller with staying power. Dystopias may fall, dragon empires may crumble, but affairs of the heart will always be a top concern.
So, what genre do I write? Well, technically, I write fantasy, but not the medieval kind. Most of it takes place in contemporary times, but there’s the ma - ah, see? Yeah, I’m still working on it.