Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Which Bookshelf Would Your Novel Be Placed On?

One of the elements of a query letter or even a pitch is to be able to identify what genre would define your novel. It is really up to you to figure out what genre you are writing. Simply calling it fiction is not going to be good enough. But this seems to be lost on a lot of writers out there.

I was reading through submissions yesterday, and I was amazed at the number of people who were classifying their story as one genre, but describing it as something else. Along the same lines, I saw a ton of people trying to classify their genre into multiple areas.

Now, I do understand why both of these are happening. In the first case, writers just do not understand the business well enough to be submitting to editors or agents. This is Market Research 101 here! Know your market and know where your product should be sold. As far as the second group, these people probably are believing their story is a "cross-over" novel. While these novels do exist, we don't cross-over 3 and 4 different genres.

Let me give you an example of what I see a lot of times. This often happens with male authors who are marketing their story as a romance. When I am at a conference, I simply reach over to my bag of books next to my feet and pull out a traditional romance. "Would your book have a cover like this?" The horror in their eyes is priceless.

Those of you taking the self-publishing approach may be laughing right now. "This is why I don't want to write for traditional publishers. I don't want to be labeled." Ahhh, but here is where even you people are missing the mark. You do need to have a label for your book.

When you are writing a story, you need to know what your genre is from the beginning. This will dictate the voice, style and language. This will also dictate things such as subject matter and even the length of the story. But there is an other extension to this and it comes right back to marketing.

Your story has to be placed on a bookshelf. It doesn't matter if it is a brick and mortar book shelf, or a digital book shelf, you have to consider placement. People have to be able to find your product. Agents need to know which publishers it would fit with the best. Editors need to know how to market the book, and so forth.

Just throwing your book out there and labeling it as fiction is simply the same as saying your book is a miscellaneous novel. Good luck with anyone buying your book.

As far as what the editors and agents see, if you don't know what genre your story is, you are giving the impression you are not ready to make a move to the professional world of publishing.

So figure out your genre before you submit your project. Heck, figure it out before you start writing it. You might find some better success when it comes to the marketing time.

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