G is for Genre

BLAST_GMany writers are so overwhelmed by the number of fiction genres and subgenres they can’t decide where their story fits. If you want to land an agent or self publish, picking the right genre is crucial because it helps your book connect with buyers. Being between genres might sound exciting, like you’re breaking new literary ground. However, in a market bulging with choices, getting on the radar of readers who will enjoy your book and leave favorable reviews is a must, and the best way to do this is by putting your book in the correct genre.

3 Tips for finding your genre:

  • Look at the big picture. Analyze your story from first page to last, and list all the themes and important plot aspects of the story. Don’t pay too much attentions to minor aspects of your novel. If your book is funny in two chapters, you are not writing a humorous book. Pick one or two (no more than three) of the most likely genre matches. Ignore sub-genres at this stage.

  • Compare your book to the genre’s tropes, or to a few best-selling books from that genre. Be honest! Will your book compare favorably? Or are you too far outside the traditional readers’ expectations? If your book is too different, start over and compare your book to another genre. Repeat until you find the right fit for your story. If you honestly can’t find a single genre that fits your story, you may not have isolated the main themes. Go back to step one and try again.

  • Answer the W questions. Who is your ideal reader? Age must a consideration. Which books or authors are on that reader’s to-be-read list right non? In which part of a store would your ideal reader look for their next book? Would they find your book in that same area? If not, why?

2 Examples:

I’ve found some good infographics that make ruling in or out a genre quite easy.
Do you think you have a YA Romance? Find out for sure here at SwoonReads.

Or have you narrowed your list to dystopia? This chart from Erin Bowman will help you.


IsItDystopia_flowchart CC BY-NC-ND

1 Link for more help:

We have a few posts on genre (you can find them with our search bar), but I’m picking this one from Writer’s Rumpus. I think it has a number of helpful tips and chronicles one writer’s journey to find the perfect fit.

The most important consideration when picking a genre is connecting with the readers who will love your book! It takes time, but it’s worth it.

And in case you’re just dropping in for the first time, here’s our April A to Z BLASTOFF to Stellar Writing list thus far:

A is for Antagonist
B is for Backstory
C is for Character Change
D is for Dialogue
E is for External Conflict
F is for False Stakes

And coming up next:

H is for Hero
I is for Internal Conflict

Author: Robin Rivera

Robin trained as a professional historian and worked as a museum curator, educator, and historical consultant. She writes mystery fiction, with diverse characters and a touch of snark. She's currently working on two new manuscripts that started off as NaNoWriMo projects. You can follow her on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/robin.rivera.90813). However, Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/RRWrites/) is where her inner magpie is happiest of all.

23 thoughts on “G is for Genre”

    1. Hi Jean,
      Ugh, that sounds frustrating. Hang in there. I’m sure you will pin down where your book fits. : )

    1. Hi Matthew,
      Nice to meet you, we love new writers here. Glad you liked the post. : )
      Getting a slow start today, but I’ll head over and check out your blog next.

    1. Hi Shawn,
      Thanks! Genre is not the easiest topic to do in under 500 words. I’m glad I didn’t botch it. : )

    1. If is wasn’t such an important tool for marketing I would tend to agree with you, but expectation is a powerful thing. How many times do we start a book expecting to find the kind of story we like to read only to be disappointed when the author failed to include what we expected from that genre?

      1. Hi Hannah,
        I’m with you, I always start with a genre in mind. But it takes all kinds of writers, with different types of writing processes to make the world. : )

  1. That is one of the hardest parts. For some people, genre is natural. It took me a while to find my place. I started out writing young adult in the mid-90s, but there was no market for it at the time (believe it or not). So I moved to romance, which was HUGE back then. But I settled on romantic comedy. Then chick lit came along and I thought, ‘I can do this!” Chick lit came and went so quickly, if you blinked, you would have missed it. When it died, no agent or editor wanted to see romantic comedy because it seemed too much like chick lit. But by then, YA and children’s fiction were exploding, so that’s where I found my home! But I had to settle in MG because YA has gotten really dark and I like to write the lighter, more fun stuff.

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      Your journey to find the genre sounds interesting. It’s true that publishing trends can move pretty fast, and when you miss them, you miss them! Whole heatedly nods with agreement the writer sitting on a finished steampunk who missed that wave : ( But I like to think if we wait long enough genres and trends do cycle back around. I’ve been reading a lot of lighter YA recently, you may still find a home there.

  2. Hi there – Your Dystopia chart shows how complicated it can all really be to determine a genre. I’ve been reviewing books for FictionZeal for over a year and still run into new genres. 🙂

    1. There are only a dozen or so publisher recognized genres. Technically dystopian is a subgenre, but a wildly popular one that’s recognizable to buyers. Once you find the genre, pinning down a subgenre is much more challenging. : )

  3. I agree about nailing down your genre! If you can’t, agents and publishers will have a hard time grasping what you’ve written. It’s a good idea to figure it out before you start writing. But, then again, sometimes our writing takes us in a whole other direction! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      I try to start with a genre in mind when I write, but I agree sometimes a project takes on a life of it’s own! : )

  4. Great tips – I’ve read many novels which I chose for the genre, only to discover that I didn’t get what it said on the tin! Love the flow chart…you can’t beat a good flow chart 😀

    1. I was looking for one with all the main genres on it, but it would have been a huge chart. These smaller ones work better.

We love comments and questions.

%d bloggers like this: