Sunday, January 30, 2011

Know Thy Genre

You would think this one would be a no-brainer, yet you would be surprised!

There seems to be a movement within the unpublished/self-pubbed author community that is rebelling against genre.

That some how being 'labeled' and 'branded' is the antithesis of art.

Um...we could debate a lot of finer points about this, but I am simply going to ask you one question that I know ask any pre-client that chaffs at the concept of identifying 1 major genre with 2 minor sub-genres...

Do you want to sell your book?

If no, then great. This isn't a very helpful blog for you and you might want to go read some of my story structure or dialogue blogs.

If the answer is yes, then you really need to not only embrace your genre, but research it as well.

Know the top 5-10 authors in your main genre. Know what they are doing. What stories they are writing, what elements they are hitting hard.

And no, I am not recommending that you write for the market, although in this new digital age it actually is becoming more and more of an option if that is your thing. I am advocating that you know WHAT the market is.

I love my colleague and fellow Blog Tour de Force author ("Irish Moon"), Amber Scott's take on this... If we were about to start a T-shirt company, any business consultant worth their salt would tell us to research, research, research our competition. Writing is no different.

Can you imagine if we put in all the time and effort to build a company, get vendors, hire employees only to find out that someone else (usually much larger) is already making "Team Edward" t-shirts?

Your time investment in your book is equally valuable. Don't squander it!

Also can you imagine if you were making "Team Edward" t-shirts and ardently refused to call your product a t-shirt and refused to use any reference to "Twilight" in your marketing campaign.

Plus, you are writing a book meant to be read (if, of course you answered 'yes' to the above question). And each genre has their own set of 'rules' and expectations from the reader.

For example, most high fantasy novels tend to be long since the reader expects a lush world building experience and lots of description. You could turn in a 500 page fantasy manuscript and no one would blink.

A 500 page urban fantasy manuscript? WHAT? Way too long for the most part.

That is why I advocate that you go and buy the top 5 books in your genre (plus more if able) and check page count. Read for similarities and differences.

Then, and only then, figure out a way to put your unique spin on it, because after all that is why someone would want to buy YOUR book!

I will be talking about this subject in depth on my radio show at 2pm PST on Saturday so tune in or better yet, call in with your questions!

Also today is the last day of the Blog Tour de Force so head on over to the IBC blog to join in on a scavenger hunt to end all scavenger hunts to get entries to win that Kindle!!!

And to anyone who commented on my last blog for a free eBook of "HeartsBlood" please have patience! I also hosted on @craftycmc blog and had over 128 comments so I am slowly working my way through those to give away. If you haven't gotten yours yet, please check your comment and be sure that I can easily contact you (either through your blog, an email or twitter handle).

Thank you so much and see you next week!


  1. That is great advice, as always. Since my books are not selling I was thinking of trying another genre, but I might give it a while.

  2. This post is worth the price of admission all by itself. Blue ribbon at the fair, Dear.

    Thanks, peace and all good,