23 September 2011

Break the Marketing Pocket Until You’re Selling – Genres

Science Fiction
Literary Fiction
Epic Fantasy

Each of these has a specific connotation when attached to a book. When you tell others that you’re a writer, their first question is almost always “What do you write?” Our answer usually fills in with a label similar to those above. However, modern writing has started to defy the old classification model.

In the old days, classification came as an easy task. Computers and electronic gadgetry went into science fiction. Vampires, werewolves, hobgoblins, and their ilk were horror. Extra special powers, be they magic or given by the sun, were fantasy.

Now, it doesn’t come that easy to classify. A vampire story could be romance, fantasy, or horror. Electronic gadgetry could be literary fiction or science fiction.

Confused yet? I am!

Let me add a little more confusion to this mix. In the olden days, fiction was broken into two sections in a store: Literature and Romance. Imagine Terry Pratchett, John Grisham, and Tom Clancy next to a Harlequin Novel. I’m guessing, since my research is still spotty on this, that in order to better market books to a particular reader, they started breaking those large sections down. As we’ve grown more sophisticated, so has our “marketing” niche.

For some, this is important. As an example, they might say: I only read/write about Vampires. Don’t give me any other fantasy blather. In fact, make them into their own category.

For others, this narrows the choices too much. They just want a fantastic story.

With the new internet options of tagging, you can mark something as broad or as narrow as you wish, depending on if you can find such a narrow term to cover it.

Does knowing this idea help you get started with your idea? Sure. You’ll know early on if your writing is based on a space ship, some far away land, or somewhere in downtown Raleigh. That helps when pitching it in the end. When initially writing, it only helps to establish the initial concept. After that, let the imagination enjoy itself.

My best suggestion: Ignore the marketing until you get to the point that the agent or editor needs to sell the book. Write what is in your heart. If someone asks what you write, make the answer simple: Fiction or Non-fiction. If they want it narrowed, talk to them about your concept.

Once you’re selling, have each step of the pyramid in mind for your buyer, from broad overarching category, to the narrowest of concepts.

Until you are selling, forget the genre.

Today's post was inspired by the topic “Genre-bending (crossing genre lines)” as part of the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com/. This ongoing tour allows you, the reader, travel around the world from author's blog to author's blog.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s posting over at: http://suesantore.com/

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour: http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com/

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