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  1. graveleye

    graveleye Senior Member

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    Genre status: Unknown

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by graveleye, Mar 22, 2018.

    Lucky me, I've spent my whole life being different, and lo and behold, I have also done it with my novel. I've never been much for classifying anything down to the nitty gritty (when asked about my various works, I usually like to say "it is what it is"), but something tells me that as I search for an agent and publishing, I am going to need to know where my story sits among the various genres. With my tongue loosely wagging about my cheek, I seek to affix a label to my book, as much as I wish I didn't even have to do so.

    My main character is twenty years old, and the secondary characters range from sixteen to twenty-three. There are a couple of older adults here and there. So is it "YA"?

    The story takes place in 1986. Is it "historical"?

    There's just enough sex to embarrass mom, but not enough to be called erotica, so that label is out.

    There is some romance. Perhaps even enough to call it "romance", but the story isn't itself about the romance.

    It's a little adventurous, but not in the sense of an epic journey or action packed.

    There are some funny parts, but it's certainly not comedy.

    It's simply the story of a young guy with big dreams of making it in the music business, and all the hapless things that happen along the way. He and his band find themselves on the cusp of success when the rug is snatched out from under him. The guys in his band betray his friendship and cause his girlfriend to leave him too. Having lost everything important to him, he finds himself alone in a city far from home, feeling like a total failure. Battling depression, loneliness and poverty, he struggles to pick up the pieces and put his life back together again.

    The story is done and heading off to my editor in the next few weeks. I've begun ruminating on query letters and so forth, but I have no idea what to call it as a whole, other than "fiction".

    Given this tiny amount of information, any ideas?
     
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  2. @theunheardwriter21

    @theunheardwriter21 Member

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    for me, It sounds like plain non-fiction. But I don't think that helps very much
     
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  3. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Nonfiction means it's true. And you can write nonfiction as one word.
     
  4. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Spitting .45 caliber grammar.... Contributor

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    Maybe if it highlights YA themes. Is there enough angst?

    Probably not unless the zeitgeist and real events of the time are the crux (and appeal) of the story. Even then, 1986 is probably too soon to be considered historical. Come to think of it, I wonder how interesting historical fiction about the media and digital age will be in the future. Part of the appeal of what we consider "historical" now is that there weren't cameras, commentators, and Harvard studies around to record it, but I wouldn't think they'll be much mystery to the 1980s in another century or so.

    ETA: and thinking about it even more, I would consider 1986 to fall under "pop culture" more than history. Is that a thing yet? Recent Pop Culture Fiction? Like Ready Player One to some extent.

    Many stories have romantic elements, but it's only genre-romance if the path to romance is the main conflict and everyone ends up happily ever after. As far as genres go, that's as clear cut as reader expectations get.

    Sounds like contemporary fiction to me. Maybe literary if it has some gravitas to it. Hard to tell without reading it, but you might be able to edit it into more of a YA mold.

    As in a true story? How are you getting that?
     
  5. graveleye

    graveleye Senior Member

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    man, oh man, if only it were non-fiction! But alas, most of if is just my imagination. If it were about me, the ending would be terrible. :D

    Like I said, I'm more or less posting this on a lark. I don't like to stick things into categories, but I know it's human nature for one, and for two, it's necessary.

    I read a lot, and enjoy a wide variety of genres, but I really don't know where I would stick this one as it is a little different than most novels I take in. I guess for now I will just stick with "fiction". I was toying with the "historical" genre more for humor than anything. To me, 1986 seems like yesterday, but to some it might seem like the dark ages. I do have one scene where my MC is using a pay-phone to talk to a friend who is using a "car phone" and the reception is so bad they can't carry on a conversation. He complains that he can't understand why anyone would even want to have a car phone when there are already pay phones everywhere. That's history.:)

    I like YA for the most part, but my story just doesn't have that YA "vibe", to me at least.
     
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  6. PennyDreadfully

    PennyDreadfully Member

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    Hmm, a rock'n'roll novel? I've never actually read one, though. Maybe it has to have more elements than your character being in a band to constitute this genre haha

    I think @Shenanigator is writing a rock'n'roll inspired book? Maybe she can help you out more than me on this subject

    If not, general fiction is a good bet. What does your editor think? Has anybody else read it, like a beta reader or two? It would be good to get their thoughts
     
  7. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView Supporter

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    I don't think you'll get far querying it as "fiction" or some other vague term - if you, as the author, can't categorise it, how can an agent? And if an agent can't categorise it, how can she sell it to an editor? Genres are marketing categories. If you don't have a genre, you don't have a market.

    Based on what you said we can rule out YA, romance, erotica, SFF, mystery, and a few others. But I don't know what we can rule in. Hopefully this editor will have some ideas.
     
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  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    sounds like a Mike Gayle/Nick Hornby 'Lager saga' (is that men's contemporary fiction ?)
     
  9. graveleye

    graveleye Senior Member

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    I hope so too. I am delivering it the editor next week, so hopefully he will have some ideas as to where to put it. But if not, well, we'll just have to see.

    I'm an audio engineer by trade, and have worked with musicians for decades. Music is a lot like writing, in that there are a lot of acts all vying for a limited amount of paying positions at the top. I noticed that there are hundreds of books, mostly biographical, about stars and their stories, but none that I can think of about the thousands of unknowns who struggle so hard, with all their heart and soul, and still don't make it. I thought it would be a unique concept to write a story from that angle since there are soaring high hopes followed by crushing defeats, rinse, repeat. It's real too. I see it all the time.

    I realized going in that this would probably not be a subject that will be instantly interesting to a lot of readers, but who really knows? I actually got the inspiration to write the story after reading "Mozart in the Jungle" by Blair Tindall. There are significant differences between our stories, of course. One would not expect a classical musician to have such an interesting story to tell, and the same goes for the unknown, unsigned rock bands. I had a "hey, I can do that too" moment. Only my story is fiction, of course.

    I have had a couple of people read it, and they enjoyed it. However, other than having a couple of articles published in magazines and a few unpublished short stories, I am completely new to writing, and this is my first novel. I don't really know what to expect, what sort of input to look for, and no idea how to find a beta reader who I can trust is going to give me good information as it relates to writing a good novel without losing too much of my own personality in it. First and foremost, I am an artist and I've always had a "this is what I do, like it or not" outlook on whatever I create. I know that if I don't want to waste the year I have spent writing, I will have to be bendable and have to learn to trust constructive criticism. I have been doing my homework and lurking like a fiend on this forum and others.

    So, once editing is done, I'll be looking for beta readers, help with query letters and whatnot. o_O
     
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  10. graveleye

    graveleye Senior Member

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    Oh my, I am pretty sure that both me and my main character are far to sensitive to be put in the "lad-lit" genre.:D
     
  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Have you read 'Powder' by Kevin Sampson ? May be have a look what genre that sits in on Amazon ? ( I don't know off the top of my head)

    ETA

     
  12. lonelystar

    lonelystar Active Member

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    Have a look on Goodreads they categorize books.

    Also have a look at Deborah Grabien's JP Kinkaid books, the mc is part of a rock band. Don't know how these have been categorized.

    I'm sure people will want to read it. From your summary above I would probably pick it up.

    Good luck.
     
  13. TheRealStegblob

    TheRealStegblob Kill All Mages Contributor

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    To my understanding (and it seems like people disagree with this, including published authors/editors/etc), Young Adult is categorized by the characters somehow 'growing up' or going through arcs/stories that change them somehow going from young person into a young adult. The thing that people seem to disagree on is whether or not the characters have to be under 18 or not, most will say they need to be kids or teens, but I've seen some people say it can even work with older mid-20s adults.

    One thing I quickly learned is that book genres, like all genres, are kind of stupid and vague with lots of elements that crossover genres. It can be very confusing to try pinning down just what the hell your book's genre is.
     
  14. graveleye

    graveleye Senior Member

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    Amazon had it Powder under contemporary. I just grabbed a paperback, which is all they seem to have. Thanks for the suggestion.
    I've been thirsting for other books of this nature but it seems they're few.

    which is kind of scary, if you know what I mean.
     
  15. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView Supporter

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    YA is defined by the age of the characters - every legit publishing professional agrees on this. People get confused because it's weird that we talk about MG and YA as 'genres' when they are really just target age ranges... a book is never just YA but a YA [genre]. YA fantasy, YA romance, YA whatever. But yeah, if your character is 20 - even if the book is about them 'coming of age' in some way - it's not YA.

    Most genres are pretty clear-cut. It's those pesky books that are me:)ssy.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
  16. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Sounds like a special book for the genius shelf, on maybe a floor that sells only your book in a shop called Graveleye on planet Graveleye where Graveleye is king of the world. So, that's your first line of the pitch, and on, my hero :)
     
  17. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Could you edit your smiley @TE? It's in the same place as mine, thanks.
     
  18. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView Supporter

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    Of course.
     
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  19. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    As I panic about whether or not @graveleye and I know each other from another life... (No, not that way! :eek: :D)

    Yes, @PennyDreadfully I'm writing a rock and roll book. A trilogy, actually.

    Whether or not I could be of any help would depend on what @graveleye needs for the book, and its state of completion. Because what I'm writing takes place in a similar time period (this book of the trilogy takes place in 1989), I'd be hesitant to help out with something that's still in first draft stage, because frankly I'd be saving my best ideas for my own book! :) That wouldn't be helpful to the author.

    But when it's ready for Beta-ing? Absolutely! I immensely enjoyed Beta-ing another rock and roll book for someone. Or helping out with a quick fact check of something? No problem.

    And, yeah, @graveleye the whole genre thing is tough! Neither of the two books I'm working on right now fit neatly into one genre, and my characters are too old to be considered YA.

    Feel free to shoot me a PM, @graveleye . Welcome!
     
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  20. graveleye

    graveleye Senior Member

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    ok now this has got me interest! :agreed:

    ya, my book is finished and I've already started on the next one. Just polishing a little to make it easier for my editor, but the story is set.:)
    I'll PM you soon as I get a chance:)
     
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  21. Caffrey

    Caffrey Member

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    I must say I share your genre dilemma. My novel has a robust mix of dark humour, quest-based action, religious irreverence, satanic possession, romance and dubious historical nonsense. However, it's an absurdist tale and that skews it out of most genres. I guess the closest might be Bizarro (which doesn't often end up being listed), absurdist (ditto) or weird fiction.

    Looking at Amazon shows some similar novels listed as science fiction or horror, which for me are the last things my novel are.
     
  22. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    When you begin querying, agents will want to know what books are comparable to yours - "if someone liked X, they'll like this". So, my advice is to look for comparables to your book and then go by the genre in which they are listed.

    I ran into a lot of trouble with my first attempt at getting published. It was a historical novel in which the narrator was thirteen. Some people suggested I pitch it as YA, but I felt the bulk of the story was anything but YA. One person suggested that I might want to make my narrating character a few years older, but I felt that would have disrupted a major aspect of the story.
     
  23. graveleye

    graveleye Senior Member

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    Interesting that I was just dwelling about this all morning.
    I'm in a serious bind because I've never read a book quite like mine and I still have absolutely no clue what sort of genre to put it under.
    In fact, I am sort of stressing out about it because my MS is going to edit this weekend, and I am already toying with writing query letters.

    From what everyone is telling me, it is obviously a big deal, and I admit I am completely clueless.

    Just about the only thing I can think of to be true is that it reads like a memoir, although it is actually fiction. I don't want it to be a "memoir" anyway.

    I'm bumming on this.
     
  24. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Piece of advice. Don't start the query letters just yet. Get your editor's feedback, including what genre (s)he thinks you should pitch it as. The worst thing you can do is to get ahead of yourself, to begin pitching before the ms is as good as it can be. I know you're anxious to get it out there, to see if you can make it. But your editor will likely have some ideas that you haven't considered, ideas that could infuse your story with greater depth, greater reach.
     
  25. graveleye

    graveleye Senior Member

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    understood. I haven't actually put pen to paper as to the query letter, but I can't help but think about it. It tend to preemptively stage ideas long before I actually start to implement them.
    Yea, I'm anxious to move forward, but I want to do it right.
     

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