Apr 29, 2009

Got Genre?

Occasionally people submit queries without stating the genre in them. I label these queries as "Guess the Genre." I've also seen revisions come through where the genre changes.

Do you struggle to define the genre for your novel?

Maybe you're trying to think like an agent, or like a publisher. It can be tough for a novice writer to really see inside their heads. But picking the right genre can be simple. Just think like a reader:

If you went to buy your book at the bookstore, where would you go to look for it?

Bookstores are divided up into sections. Where would you go to look for your funny but heartwarming tale of love? Humor, literary fiction, or romance?

Go to a couple bookstores and look at the books on the shelves where you think yours should be. When you get there, pick a couple and read the jacket copy. Think about your query, and think about your manuscript:

Does it fit in? And more importantly, does it stand out?

If you really want to get down and dirty, look at the acknowledgements in a few of the books. Agent names are usually listed. Add them to your query list if they are not already there.

Oh...and good luck!

6 comments:

Deborah said...

The genre is easy. The niche inside the genre sometimes is a bit tricky.

Litgirl01 said...

Yeah...not stating the genre is not a great idea. I don't think agents like that a whole lot (from what I've read)! LOL Sometimes a novel can fit into a few genres...what do you do then? I surely don't want my book labeled "your guess is as good as mine!" LOL Great post! :-)

Rick Daley said...

As far as I know, it will only be on one shelf in a bookstore. Find that shelf. Know that shelf. Be that shelf ;-)

Litgirl01 said...

Okay, I'm feeling it! Being the shelf...being the shelf. :-) Rick...what would we do without your great advice?

Rick Daley said...

If I weren't here to spout off my opinions, I'm sure you'd find a suitable replacement, the web is pretty vast.

That being said, I'm sure glad you're all out there to read my opinions, and I'm glad you find them valuable!

Lisa Katzenberger said...

When I started querying my novel last year, I labeled it as mainstream fiction. I didn’t think it was genre, but I for sure knew it wasn’t literary. But then I read more about the women’s fiction genre, and after I got done stamping my feet about how women didn’t need a genre of their very own and that my book wasn’t romance and all that, I updated my query to list my book as women’s fiction instead of mainstream. Then once I started seeking out agents who represent the women’s fiction genre (there were a lot more than I realized), I got a spike in requests for partials. I never managed to snag an agent with that book, and am now at work on my next book. But fessing up to my book’s genre at least made more agents take notice.