Genre,anyone?

I needed to pick a published review as part of the material I’ll send a promotional website. Choosing one wasn’t easy. The problem is, readers get different things out of a book; their interpretation can vary wildly. Look at any book product page and you’ll know what I mean. You’ll end up asking yourself: did all of them read the same book?

 

“This is a solidly constructed, well written, nicely executed story.”

 “. . . found it to be one of the easiest reads, thanks to both the storyline and the marvelous way the author writes.”

Vs.

 

“ . . . repetitive phrasing, odd sentence structure, awkward phrasing.”

“. . . .could have benefited from a strong edit on this book.”

Hm. See what I mean? And how about this:

 

“The relationship between Tiff and Royal is dull. I really don’t care about the relationship and I never felt like the two characters had real chemistry.”

Vs.

 

“The sexual tension between the two leads is sizzling without turning this strong urban fantasy into a cheesy romance novel.”

As you can see, readers’ opinions of Whisperings vary. I expect that. What I find interesting is their opinions of genre.

 

“Along Came a Demon is labeled as paranormal mystery, but personally I’d call it a paranormal romance.”

“This is not some flighty, no substance, romance book. Although there is a romantic element, this book should never be classified as such.”

“. . . a well thought out cop-like mystery.”

“All in all this was a solid UF (urban fantasy) that held my attention from beginning to end.”

“It’s rather hard to slide it neatly into one genre.”

I didn’t have a specific genre in mind when I wrote Along Came a Demon, but found I had to choose one when I published. Everyone wants a book to be identified by genre, and I understand why. Most readers have their favorite genre and pick books categorized as such. Books not in a specific genre can be overlooked, and traditional publishing houses won’t touch them.

 

What is Whisperings? Urban Fantasy?  Maybe, but I’d say light rather than dark Urban Fantasy. Mystery? The paranormal element pulls Whisperings out of what is considered traditional Mystery. Along Came a Demon has romance and sexual tension, but does that make it Romance or Paranormal Romance? I finally settled on Paranormal Mystery.

 

 

Having decided on a genre, I discovered online publishing platforms don’t make selection easy.

 

When you publish with Amazon, you are not given a choice of genre; you get a choice of “categories.” You can select two categories and their sub-categories, but these don’t include Paranormal Mystery or Urban Fantasy.  For Amazon, I finally settled on: Fiction> Romance> Paranormal; Fiction> Ghost, and Fiction> Mystery & Detective> Women Sleuths.

 

All well and good, except on my product page, Amazon persists in categorizing my books only as:  Kindle Store> Kindle Books> Fiction> Genre Fiction> Horror> Ghosts.

 

Where did “Horror” come from? Great, I thought, now readers will buy thinking it’s a horror novel, be disappointed when it’s not, and leave me lousy reviews.

 

Then there are Amazon “lists.” Lists pop up when a reader searches for specific genres. They are in every imaginable genre and sub-genre. For example, in the USA, Along Came a Demon has been on the top 12 “Urban Fantasy” list for over 18 months (#7 today) and as I write is #3 on “Urban Fantasy Paranormal.” In the UK, it’s #1 “Paranormal Fiction” and #2 “Paranormal Mystery.” I would rather Amazon puts lists and list positions on the product page, as they are more indicative of the genre.

 

Barnes and Noble categories seemed more appropriate. I chose: Fiction > Fantasy > Paranormal; Fiction > Ghost; Fiction > Romance > Paranormal, and Fiction > Mystery & Detective > Women Sleuths.

 

But when B&N highlighted Along Came a Demon in their Pubit! Pick Store, they described it as Science Fiction. I was so baffled, I emailed them to ask why. They told me that “Fiction” falls under “Science Fiction,” hence, my books are Science Fiction. Voila! Funny, it didn’t say that when I chose my categories. Science Fiction was a whole separate category.

 

Other online sellers put Whisperings in the general “Fantasy”  category.

 

Anyway, to get to the point, don’t mistake “categories” for “genre.” Some of my author friends find their books listed in the strangest categories. Some readers are disappointed when books aren’t of the genre they supposed.  Read the product description and reviews; they should give you a better indication of genre.

 

Is Whisperings Paranormal Mystery, Paranormal Romance, Urban fantasy, Mystery? For book four, Demon Demon Burning Bright, I’m thinking : “Romantically Mysterious Urban Fantasy Paranormal Female Detective Novel. With ghosts.”

 

What do you think?

 

4 responses to “Genre,anyone?

  1. wow, I had no idea it was so complicated. I would call it Paranormal Mystery if push comes to shove. There is a rock solid mystery solved in each book and most mysteries with a female lead have romance in them so I think most people will assume there will be some.

  2. “Along Came a Demon is labeled as paranormal mystery, but personally I’d call it a paranormal romance.”

    Hey, you quoted me! Woohoo! :D

    I see how my review kind of proved your point, though I took the label “paranormal mystery” from the way the Kindle book is titled (“Along Came a Demon (Whisperings) (Whisperings Paranormal Mystery)”;) and not from the Amazon category. Like you said, Along Came a Demon has both mystery and romance; this was my way of saying that I felt the romance was the stronger of the two. Of course that’s just based on my being more of a mystery person than a romance person – someone who reads a lot of romance might see it the other way around and think the book is light on romance!

    I have been thinking about these categories and labels a lot as I start my next project. It’s set in modern times, there’s one monster who kills a lot of people, some romance and no one besides the monster is magical. Is it horror? Is it fantasy? If I call it horror, it might be too light and fluffy for most horror readers, and if I put it in fantasy it won’t have all the magic that fantasy readers would expect. And it takes place in a tiny Texas town, so I can’t get away with calling it “urban” fantasy either, can I? ;)

    The best way I can see of figuring out my genre is to have some non-writer types read it and tell me where they think it would be found in a bookstore (real or virtual), since they’re the kind of people who will ultimately be looking for it.

    • Hi Cat!

      As I said, everyone gets something different from a book. As you may guess, I had a really hard time deciding on a genre. 🙂
      Having a few readers tell you what THEY think the genre is, is a smart idea! I don’t know why Amazon has genre lists but doesn’t have those genres in their categories. Doesn’t make sense, does it?They have “urban life” but not “urban fantasy,” yet UF is currently one of the most popular genres. Sigh.

      I appreciated your review and am glad of this opportunity to tell you so. I get some lovely comments on this blog but posters rarely write a review.

      Cheers,
      Linda.

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