The genre of your book is what determines the placement of it with agents, editors and, more importantly where the book sellers are going to place your book. Whether you are going to self-publish, or take the traditional route, knowing the genre of your book is crucial. Think of it this way. When you want to buy a book, even online, what do you do? You go to the genre you like, and scan those books. You know that the books that are found in this list always have the same characteristics.
Recently, however, I have seen several authors just slapping any genre they want on a book, just to get that book into the hands of an editor or agent. I have seen people go so far as claiming a 110,000 word non-fiction project is a Harlequin romance. Why? Just to get a non-fiction story into the hand of an agent that only represents romance. Sorry, but it is not going to work.
Now, before I go any further, let me say that I know some of you don't like to "categorize" your story. You don't want to be "shoved into a niche." That is not what we are doing here. We are just classifying your story. Think of it this way.
- In music, we classify a piece by the time period, by the style by the instrumentation.
- In architecture, we classify buildings by (again) the time period, by the use of materials, and by the shape of the building
- In literature, we classify writing by the themes used, by the structure the author used and yes, again the time period.