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Identifying a Genre – Writing a Book

27 February 2015

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The first thing you need to do with your before you start writing is to pick a genre that interests you. What’s a genre? A themed bookshelf in a bookstore – or the top level(s) of book categories on a website. If your market is your audience, then your genre is your first narrowing of audience.

Don’t be afraid of picking one genre. Trust me; it won’t limit your sales, for two reasons:

  1. If your book takes off, it won’t matter what genre it started out in. Books can transcend genre; that is, they can sell to people who wouldn’t normally buy it.
  2. Specialized genre categories sell more books than general fiction. What’s the least-respected of all genres? Romance (sad but true). What’s the bestselling of all genres (not specific books necessarily, but across the board)? Romance.

Putting your book in its correct genre helps it sell. After all, what sells better—a book on a shelf, or a book that never makes it to the shelf? If your book could go in one of a number of genres, work on finding out which genre has more readers who will buy your book – either by looking for similar books in the genre that are selling well, or by getting dedicated readers of that genre to read the book and tell you whether it’s a winner or not.

Identifying a Sub-Genre

Do you need to identify a subgenre? Yes and no. At least, you need to identify whether your book is part of a subgenre or not. If it is, you will make more money if you work that into your marketing later on, when you can say your book is ‘steampunk’ rather than just science fiction, or urban fantasy rather than just fantasy – for example, when you’re trying to get book reviewers to read your book.

Everyone has a favourite genre or two, and everyone has a couple of sweet spots within that genre. Identifying your subgenre means knowing about the current sweet spots in your book’s genre.

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