The Overgenre-ing of Books

01 Sep

When I wrote the first draft of An Extraordinarily Ordinary Life, I thought of it as a fantasy with the main character Gail as a 35-year-old woman having an early midlife crisis, then someone pointed out that the themes were more coming of age related so Gail and her book-mates had their ages cut in half and the book became a young adult fantasy.

After I started prepping the book to send out to agents, writing friends suggested that the book best fell into the sub-genre of young adult paranormal romance, despite the book being more about finding oneself than finding a boyfriend.

Going one step farther, because the book is written as a series of blog entries (digital letters), it’s actually an epistolary young adult paranormal romance.

Back when I had my own Professional Organizing business, I learned that we have moved from a mass marketing world to a mass customization world. We no longer are supposed to sell to the masses but instead we are to create a small niche inside a large market and sell to that group. So, instead of selling a fantasy to fantasy readers, I’m selling a epistolary young adult paranormal romance to people who like books done up as letters with coming-of-age themes, set in the real world with a touch of magic where the girl gets the boy in the end.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a fantasy writer and the rest is just marketing gibberish…


Today’s mini-rant was inspired by the topic Genre-bending, this month’s meme on the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out what books are on their nightstand, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour.


4 responses to “The Overgenre-ing of Books

  1. Erin M. Hartshorn

    September 1, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    To some extent, I can see subgenres as useful. There are hard SF readers who go apoplectic at space opera or (heaven forbid!) SF romance. Similarly, there are people who prefer epic fantasy or sword-and-sorcery or contemporary fantasy. If a book is labelled (and sometimes, that label is just the type of cover that’s on it), it can find its intended audience more readily.

    On the other hand, I write all over the map and do not want to pigeon-holed, so I understand your frustration with the idea of a narrow niche. Personally, I think just saying you write fantasy (or perhaps YA fantasy, for those who care) should be enough, if that’s how you choose to define yourself.

    (Of course, you know breadth, not depth, is my motto.)

  2. Alex

    September 1, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Yeah, I can understand the reason for niching books – and it’s quite useful. For example, I normally know to stay away from the modern definition of Urban Fantasy because I’m not big on vampires or werewolves these days.

    However, it can go too far.

    And yes, I hate being pigeon-holed, too!

  3. Dawn

    September 3, 2011 at 2:35 am

    I agree! It takes as much time to figure out what some things are than to write them. 😉 Well maybe not but close.

  4. Alex

    September 5, 2011 at 6:54 am

    I know what you mean, Dawn. Sometimes when submitting short stories, I have no idea where the niche is…


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