So why is picking the right genre for your book so important and how does its success hinge upon choosing the right one? Let me illustrate this by talking about a movie.
I was in the mood for a movie last night so I went to my DVD shelves (I have five shelves of them) and scanned the titles. Like most movie buffs, I arrange my films by types or genres including Animated Features; Classics; Mysteries/Thrillers; Action/Adventure; Comedies; etc. You get the idea.
I selected Guardians of the Galaxies, which was under Sci-Fi/Fantasy section. Even though I find this movie to be offbeat and funny, I placed it in Sci-fi because that is what the main genre is. Could I have filed it under comedies? Not really.
I know when I watch a sci-fi movie, I expect to experience many of the elements one finds in a sci-fi space movie –cool space ships; futuristic tech; totally unrealistic distances traveled; bizarre planets; aliens bent on the destruction of all humans. Quick sidebar: Have you ever noticed the days of the weeks are never mentioned in space movies? NEVER. “Yes, Skywalker, we should reach the Death Star by this time Thursday.” I digress.
When you pick a movie or book by type, it’s all about expectations. Guardians is under sci-fi because I expect to see all the aforementioned elements. Hunger Games is Young Adult/Sci-fi (in a dystopian world) novel, so I expect to see characteristics of those genres prevalent in the story. Even though there is a love story in the book, you cannot label Hunger Games a Romance novel.
Genre is perhaps the number one qualifier for an agent or publisher to initially accept a work. If you query them by labeling your genre: Mystery/Romance/Sci-fi because your two young characters embark on an epic adventure to thwart an alien invasion and fall in love in the process while trying to solve a mystery, you’re in trouble and headed for the slush pile or rejection.
Agents and publishers want clarity. They have expectations and you need to meet those if you are to have any success with them and your future readers.
On AUTHORS.me, we give our writers the choice of numerous genres to pick from. Previously, we allowed our writers to select three, but after numerous consults with our partners, we have decided that 2 is plenty. Therefore, be precise. Do your research on the genre(s) you believe are represented in your work.
Imagine your book has been published and is in the bookstore. What one section will it be found? Make that your genre of choice. And when your book is made into a movie, I’ll be sure to put it in the right section as well.
- Picking Your Genre: AUTHORS.me Guide & Definitions
- Literary Genres – What’s the Right One? By E-Novel-Advisor.com
- How to Pick The Right Genre for Your Novel by WriteToDone.com
- How to Choose the Right Genre for yOur Book by Savvy Book Writer