Thursday, March 7, 2013

Defining Genre in the Digital Age

Having a well-defined genre has always been important. This label shows book stores where to shelve books and readers where to find them. Most stores have limited shelf space, so unless it’s a genre-specific bookstore, the categories can be fairly broad, such as non-fiction, romance or literary fiction.  Today, with the option of online bookstores, finding that perfect book among the millions available is more daunting than ever.

But, the reasons for having a clearly-defined genre go even further.  Knowing where your book belongs is the first step in developing a marketing plan. The genre and sub-genre define who might be interested in the book and helps the author to direct information to appropriate agents, editors or readers. Sometimes defining the genre is obvious. My first novel, The Lodge, is a mystery.  Other stories may not lend themselves as well to being pigeon-holed because they contain elements of multiple genres or sub-genres. For instance, my latest novel, Big Horn Storm, is a romance, full of action, suspense and adventure. The book takes place in a mountainous ranching area and horses and cowboys play a starring role. The timing could be tomorrow or ten years from now and the catalyst for much of the action is a military crisis, but I wouldn't categorize it as military fiction. For Big Horn Storm, the bookstore shelving genre is romantic suspense. In developing promotional material I try to be more specific in order to help potential readers narrow down their search. For this purpose I define my novel as a contemporary western romantic adventure. Whether you’re presenting a manuscript to a publisher or promoting a book to a reader the genre is the most important part of the pitch—if you don’t know what your book is, no one else will. So, good luck effectively categorizing your genre-jumping masterpiece into a few well-chosen words. 

Big Horn Storm is available from your favorite online bookstore in trade paperback or ebook and for a limited time ebook downloads are available directly from the publisher, Prism Book Group,  for just .99.

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