Hey, baby, what’s your genre?

Composition, ISBNs, Marketing, Planning, Publishing Life

Hey, baby, what’s your genre?

Hey there, what’s your genre?

How to get your book picked up (and bought) the right way!

It may sound like a silly pickup line but if you don’t want potential readers to swipe left on your book then there’s a lot to consider in your early planning. Getting your book picked up by the right audience is simple but only if you do this one crucial step: identify your book’s correct genre!

That sounds too easy! And I hear the exasperated groans of you blog reading authors thinking ‘this is more common sense chatter to fill a post‘. Well, hold on my cynical authorpreneurs! The truth of the matter is many writers get confused as to where their book falls by mistaking their theme or subcategories with the actual genre their book should be in.

Let’s get the obligatory definition out of the way, shall we?

gen·re/ˈZHänrə/ (click for pronunciation) noun

  1. a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.

Now in this publisher’s humble opinion, that clarifies nothing. Especially when the choice of genre has such a serious impact on the ability to sell your books! Why? Because if you don’t choose the absolutely right genre for your book, you will spend hundreds of hours and dollars marketing to the wrong people.  Defining your genre is the first step to defining your audience (which is a whole other blog!). People who read Sci-Fi may read a military Sci-fi subgenre and become instant fans of the author!  However, dedicated readers of History novels that pick up a Historical Romance novel mislabeled are not likely to write great reviews or pick up the author’s next book! It’s like serving hummus to someone who hates chickpeas. Not exactly the same but it’s still made up of something they don’t want or like.

So let’s really simplify this. Books are classified in genres, subgenres, and themes.  Music is also classified this way. So you have Rock music (genre), you have light rock and heavy metal (subgenres), you have Ballad Rock and Death Metal (theme).  Pretty simple! 

What makes it even simpler? There are a limited number of standard industry genres that you should be using.  These are the ones that Bowker uses when you enter your ISBN profile information.  Using this as a guide to determine your book’s genre makes it much easier. Here is the list of book genres:

Fantasy · Adventure · Romance · Contemporary · Dystopian · Mystery · Horror · Thriller · Paranormal · Historical Fiction · Science Fiction Memoir · Cooking · Art · Self-help / Personal Development · Motivational · Health · History · Travel · Guide / How-to · Families & Relationships · Humor · Children’s 

Looking at these it’s easy to see how many books could overlap in genres.  So the trick is to narrow it down to which ONE to TWO represent your book.  TWO?  Yes, there are many options to list your book in more than one genre, such as on Amazon.  However, the more honed in you are on the precise genre of your book the more successful you will be at selling your book.  And let’s face it, not many of you struggled to churn out books you hope one day will end up the Goodwill giveaway bin or local landfill.

Now that you know what the genres are here’s how to narrow it down more precisely.  First, think of other books like yours.  I know your book is unique. However, no reader reads just a book, they read a genre. So what elements in your book would you find in other books?  What genre are those books classified in?  Maybe their subcategories are the same as well.  Do a search on the internet for “readers who like (insert book title) also read”.  Now you not only have an identity for your book, but for your market!