Monday, August 5, 2013

Genre Blending

Most writers pitch their book at one time or another, either in person or with a query letter. In order to do, you have to be able to label your book. Where will it fit in on the shelves of a bookstore, be it a brick and mortar store or a virtual store?

I remember going to my very first writers' conference having just completed my very first novel. I didn't know it at the time, but it was in a really, rough draft form. I signed up for pitches to an agent and an editor. Before deciding which agent and editor to speak with, I investigated their areas of interest and made sure my book fit into their purview. I had to fit my book into a genre accepted at the time.

My book was a fantasy romance. The editor asked for a partial but the agent told me there was no market for that genre of book. Fortunately, a small independent press, New Concepts Publishing, worked with me and that book was published as The Greater Good. It continues to earn money every month.

I can't fault the agent who didn't want to represent such a book. That was right before the fantasy and paranormal markets took off. But my point was the blending of the two genres, fantasy and romance. So many books today don't fit into exact niches as was once required of them. Many books have multiple genres, paranormal and romance, fantasy and romance, dystopia and fantasy, historical and fantasy, and the list goes on and on. More publishers are open to those blended books, especially smaller presses.

But a writer still needs to categorize their books. Why? Mostly for marketing and promotion. My fantasy books have some romance in but no more so than Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. They are epic fantasies. The current romance series I'm working on have a futuristic science fiction setting but they are first a romance. Even though they did better on Amazon as science fiction, they are published by a romance publisher. Two genres blended in different ways and by different percentages.

Every writer needs to be able to label their work both generally and specifically. I write epic fantasy, fantasy romance and science fiction romance. What do you write? Do you have trouble putting your book in a niche? Have you ever read a book promoted as one genre but you felt it should have been labeled as something different?

12 comments:

  1. Great post... I always blend my genres when I write, so being specific isn't easy...:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. My fiction all has a romantic edge to it. When it came out it was contemporary YA, but now it would be contemporary NA.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I just knew science fiction when I began writing, but now I know the specifics of space opera.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The first John Wayne Cleaver book by Dan Wells is labeled horror, but it reads more like dark paranormal mystery (which sounds really cool now that I think about it). I have a tough time deciding how to label my fantasy with dark elements. I don't read enough horror to know when things stop being fantasy and start being horror. Typically I call it fantasy plain and simple, as I don't go into specifics on my genre labels.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I do think more and more novels are blended works. People don't read as much straight Romance or straight Mystery or straight Anything. They want a little bit of blend. So, yes I understand your point. It gets really confusing if your book has elements of paranormal, romance, and mystery. How would you label that???

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great question, Robin. The labels can get pretty long.
    Patrick, dark paranormal mystery sounds like something I'd like to read.
    Alex, I only found out what space opera was a few years ago at a conference where an editor said there would always be a market for it.
    L. Diane, I should have mentioned the new labels like NA.
    I agree, TF, the specifics can be tough.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Isn't it ironic how agents and editors were stuck in that little rut of straight genre, and now most books seem to be of the blended variety. I know that's what I like to read anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes! If I were to describe my books they would be militaristic, paranormal, romance, suspense, thriller. Is there a mutt genre?

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's interesting that books can be blended genres. I've only written for children, but I do think that blended stories are intriguing.

    ReplyDelete
  10. It seems like a lot of authors are genre blending, these days, and I think that's a good thing. It gives the chance for someone's work to reach a, potentially, broader audience...and that's never a bad thing.

    I'm doing it, myself, with my latest project. Hopefully, there will be a market for it when I'm done but, if not, it will at least be fun to write :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I mash genres as well. Labeling them can be difficult, but as noted, the greater potential appeal to readers who might not have otherwise found it. So long as the blurb accurately reflects the story, readers can choose for themselves whether it's a good fit for them. The same applies to stories that do fit within one genre. I don't like all the stories within one genre, it all depends on the writer.

    ReplyDelete
  12. eToro is the most recommended forex broker for beginner and professional traders.

    ReplyDelete