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  1. Astrea

    Astrea Member

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    How do you decide what genre your book fits into?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Astrea, Aug 23, 2020.

    My work never conforms to any of the genres. I just write my story, and it is whatever it turns out to be. Does anyone else have this problem/issue?
     
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  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    It’s not a problem per se. Genre boundaries are fuzzy and that’s a good thing, imo. When you’re ready to approach an agent or editor it’s a good idea to have at least some understanding of the broad genre category you fall into.
     
  3. Davi Mai

    Davi Mai Banned Supporter

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    Yes, I have this problem too. I bounce between Humor/Satire, Erotica, Horror. A lot of my stuff has all three (or at least, I'd like to think so). So when I'm made to choose only one, its hard.
     
  4. Lazaares

    Lazaares Senior Member

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    No book fits into one genre and categorization hinges solely on what baskets are available. I did a quick search on a favourite - Metro 2033 - where it's put on Amazon. It's a post-apocalyptic adventure story, placed under ... science fiction. Merle's Malevil is placed in the same section so it seems like books that fall between the cracks are thrown somewhere ... logical? Consistent. It's also a post-apocalyptic novel but one that features absolutely no science whatsoever. Bahnwärter Thiel - a German work of psychological realism - is put under "Action and Adventure". Pah. I'll stop.

    Nevertheless, genres are there for a reason - they help us find what we look for and organize what we already have so that others can find them better. Thus, the real question is never "What genre does my book fall into?" but more precisely "Under what category would my readers search for my book?" and "What genre's agent would best represent / handle my book?". Pragmatism.
     
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  5. Astrea

    Astrea Member

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    I know the genres. I generally have to use about four of them, so I use general fiction.
     
  6. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    The book I'm writing right now I had to do some research to remove extra genres that wouldn't help it in the Amazon store. I looked at all the bestseller charts in each potential genre and saw what was on there. For instance, I might have chosen gothic romance but when I looked at the chart it was all dark mafia romance, secret societies, and nothing like mine. Same with southern gothic, it was all literature and general fiction whereas mine is a paranormal romance at the heart so I decided not to mess with gothic genres at all. Then I wasn't sure if it really qualified for horror but I saw a lot of similar books to mine there so I decided to do that. Then, Dark Fantasy was all LitRPG/harem type stuff so I decided that was irrelevant for me.

    But now that I recall, I know you don't publish to Amazon. Smashwords I find harder to research on but I've only ever published a couple erotica on it. I remember not liking the search function, being confused by how relevant keywords were, and was never able to identify bestseller charts. I'd still do the same type of research I do for Amazon and just search around until I get a clear idea of where my story fits the best.
     
  7. Astrea

    Astrea Member

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    Romance does the best on Smashwords. Once or twice a year they put out a newsletter on how well the genres are doing. I don't write romance, but my novels always contain a love story. I just won't do Amazon because Bezo is despicable in way too many ways. I don't work someone I consider a devil incarnate.
     
  8. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    It's just one contemporary Romance author's experience, but taking a quick look at my sales stats from when I was traditionally published on multiple platforms, it looks like roughly 2% of my sales were attributed to Smashwords from 2016 - 2019.
     
  9. Astrea

    Astrea Member

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    I'm looking for other platforms. Any suggestions other than Amazon? That's one of the reasons I joined this forum. I absolutely will not sell through Amazon. They want to own everyone's rights and kill all the competition. When the competition is gone, they own us.
     
  10. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    Then you're just throwing away 99% of your money. It doesn't matter if you like Amazon or not, that's where the self-publishing money is. You have to decide if you want to make money or if you want to make a political statement. Pick one. You can't have both.
     
  11. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    The real issue here is that people are looking at this backwards. It isn't about where your story belongs. It's who do you think is your audience? Who are you writing for? You need to pick the genre that your audience inhabits and write to those expectations. You can't just write blindly and hope someone is going to take a chance on it.
     
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  12. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    I agree. I think the base of the story, the main genre, should be known before writing the book. Though there are a lot of categories and secondary genres your book can be placed into. You're allowed up to ten categories on Amazon for your book.
     
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  13. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Other than Amazon and my publisher's own bookstore (which together accounted for a little over 91% of my sales), my books were listed through the following platforms via my royalty statements:

    Smashwords
    Barnes & Noble
    iTunes
    Kobo
    Overdrive
    Scrbd
    All Romance (now out of business after declaring bankruptcy and stiffing their listed authors/publishers months and months of royalties)

    I can't really speak to how to list books on any of these platforms, as my publisher did all the legwork on that, well earning their 40% royalties in my opinion.

    I think there are services you can sign up for that distribute to multiple platforms without doing one at a time, but I haven't really looked into it. I don't have much interest now that I'm self-published, so that I can sell 0-1 books per quarter based on prior sales, and that's with a publisher's marketing efforts behind me. The ROI's not there and I'd be much better off using that time to write another book, since a new release in my experience triggers backlist sales better than just about anything else.
     
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  14. Astrea

    Astrea Member

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    Without integrity, there is nothing.
     
  15. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    Good luck eating integrity.
     
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  16. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    Sure, you have plenty of latitude with exactly what you throw into your book, so long as the central story appeals to your target audience. Every time you add something, you potentially lose a portion of that audience who decides that they like X and not Y so they won't read your book. A huge part of marketing is knowing who is most likely to buy and fulfilling their needs.
     
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  17. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

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    Nom nom nom... hey, wait! This tastes like shit and isn't nutritious at all!
     
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Just to clarify--Amazon does not own your rights when you self-publish through them. You retain copyright. They have a license to do what they need to do.

    That doesn't mean anyone has to like Amazon or publish through them, but I've come across more than a few authors concerned that they gave up the copyright to their work if they published through Amazon and that is not the case.
     
  19. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    Sometimes it's very clear and other times it can be hazy and genre is mainly for the market. A long as you get it roughly in the correct ball park, you'll be approaching the right people. Just because a story has a romance doesn't make it a romance. Just because there are some scary or disturbing scenes doesn't make it a Horror. But if you think about your main story and the main conflict that can often help.

    Is there a mystery to be solved but the main focus point is a budding romance between two people, thrown together via this mystery (Hornet's Nest). Or is it the reverse? One could be a romance and the other could be a mystery, so what's your focus?
     
  20. Muxy001

    Muxy001 New Member

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    I exactly have that problem.

    Even a professional editor I recently hired struggled to "Pidgeon-hole" my genre.

    It's comforting to hear others struggle with the same issues. Some of the responses here are helpful.
     
  21. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I tend to assume general fiction is real-world based for the most part and being either literary or commercial fiction. If I pick a a story to read under general fiction and there are aliens or elves in it, I'm not going to be very happy. You mention your book falling into several genres so I wouldn't call it general fiction. I don't quite understand a writer not knowing their genre. Sure, there can be crossover, and just making up a story as you're writing it is fine. But somewhere along the way you've got to have a sense as to where things are going in terms of genre. I guess if you're not a big reader, this could be something you struggle with. Books are hard enough to sell and genre labels make this easier. For me, personally, the more genres a book is listed under the less likely I am to want to read it. If the author doesn't know what to make of their story, I have my doubts about how good and focused the story actually is. That's not saying anything about your writing abilities, but you say this is an ongoing issue for you. I'm not big into planning my stories out, but I do always know what kind of story I'm writing. And I do believe that sort of focus is pretty essential.
     
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  22. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    That's fine and all, but then why are you choosing to self publish? Most of the books I buy I order through Amazon and I assume that's true for the majority of the readers you're trying to sell to. I don't self publish, but if I did I would, of course go through Amazon because it seems like the best way to reach the most people. I'm not so sure Amazon is after all your rights nor do I think they are trying to own anyone. And I don't think authors or readers who use Amazon lose any integrity. However, a self published writer is definitely losing sales by avoiding it.

    Maybe you feel like going through a publisher that they would be after your rights, too. And, yes, a publisher is buying rights when they offer you a contract, but that doesn't mean that it's not still your book and you won't make money from it. Isn't that the point? All the rights in the world mean nothing for a book that will never be published. Heck, even if you load it up to your own website, there goes first rights whether you make any money off it or not.

    FYI -- This forum has a lot more to offer than suggestions for Amazon alternatives. There's a real community here and having an open mind and listening to those who have been through the process is a bigger asset no matter what you decide. That's my take on it anyway.
     
  23. eammae

    eammae New Member

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    Having a similar issue, which is partly why I sought out a community like this, except I'm stuck deciding between fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I anticipate my piece being about 8,000 words, so a short piece of writing, and it's written in prose. It started out as a simple four-verse poem that blew up over time. 99% of what I'm writing is rooted in and about real events, but I invent dialogue and implement some pretty heavy exaggeration. I see it more as part nonfiction, part poetry, but I don't want readers to think 'nonfiction' and take everything so literally. From my experience, this seems to be a rather unique issue. Hoping to get some help on here through the post I left yesterday, but overall, I think it's pretty common for writers to have trouble categorizing their work. Personally, I'm driven, in all aspects of life, by a statement supposedly made by Bob Dylan that goes, "I define nothing. Not beauty, not patriotism. I take each thing as it is, without prior rules about what it should be." However, genre does become useful when it comes to publication and also in terms of communicating with the reader and accurately (or as accurately as possible) conveying your story, ideas, etc. In my case, for instance, what my piece is called will largely influence the reader's interpretation. But even that's a deeply layered, philosophical debate.
     
  24. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Nonfiction is literally true. That's the whole definition of nonfiction. Yes, there is creative nonfiction. I write a lot of that, but everything is true. I wouldn't exaggerate and still call it nonfiction. If you start taking enough creative liberties so that your piece of writing is no longer what actually happened even if it's still based on a real story, I think it starts to become fiction. As I see it, there is a clear line. Nonfiction = true. Fiction = whatever you want even if it's based on things that happen. When you go off script from what actually happened, you're no longer writing nonfiction. I don't see the confusion there, but if you had some, I hope this clears it up.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2020
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