Genre and Markets
By: Donna Schlachter
Writing a novel—or a book of any type—requires groundwork laid in advance. Last month we discussed how to identify your topic, idea, or plot line; how to identify what you’re most passionate about, which makes the project personal, relevant, and much easier to write; and how that translates into a plot line or book subject. If you missed that post, you can catch up here
This month, we’ll look at ways to build on the foundation begun last month and identify which genre your book fits into, and then which markets might be interested in your book.
Why is Genre Important?
— It tells your audience—agents, publishers, book distributors, bookstores, and readers—what kind of book this is.
— Publishers fill slots in their publishing calendar based on that information.
— Book distributors need it to sell your book to bookstores.
— Booksellers need to know where to put the book on the shelf to recommend to patrons.
— Readers look for books based on an expectation of the genre.
- Romance – romance is the main plot element; many sub-genres, defined by the time period of the setting; heat of the romance; and subplots.
- Mystery – solving of the mystery is the key plot line; many sub-genres; can be contemporary or historical.
- Thriller & Suspense a.k.a. Action & Adventure – where the reader often knows who the villain is, and that person has somehow put either the main character or somebody important to the main character in danger; the main character has a limited amount of time to complete the assignment (ticking bomb) such as save the world, save himself or someone/something, or simply catch or stop the bad guy; many sub-genres.
- Science Fiction – where the setting is a world constructed by the author which could be partly or wholly based in real science; many sub-genres.
- Horror – where the prime purpose of the story is to evoke a strong emotional reaction of fear, and keep the reader immersed in the story through that fear; can be physical, psychological, and/or emotional fear, for the character, someone they care about, or a larger societal notion such as justice, freedom, or equality.
- Fantasy – where magical, supernatural, or demonic forces act on the characters, either to their benefit or detriment, and where the main character couldn’t achieve their goal without it; many sub-genres.
Where Does Your Book Fit?
- Setting – historical, contemporary, futuristic, time-slip (where the story starts in one time and ends in a different one);
- Primary Plot – romance, mystery, thriller, and so on
- Secondary Plot
- Level of intimate contact on the page – from sweet to erotica
Markets for Your Book
- What agent might represent it?
- What Publisher will publish it?
— read the guidelines carefully – see the resource list at the end
— if they say they don’t represent your genre, don’t send it to them
— don’t choose the first agent or publisher who shows interest without checking them out first: check out their websites. Talk to friends. Contact the authors listed on their website.
— Don’t respond to unsolicited emails offering you a contract.
— Don’t agree to pay even one cent to an agent—not only is it simply not done, it’s illegal and predatory.
— Consider carefully any publisher offering a contract that requires you to pay money up-front. There is nothing wrong with publishing with a self-publishing company, but just understand you might well end up paying for additional services, such as editing, cover design, and marketing.
Your publishing model choice comes down to deciding:
— how much time and effort you want to invest in the process of publishing your book
— how long you might be willing to wait to see your book in print
— your level of expertise when it comes to the production of your book.
Sources of information on agents and publishers
– writer’s market guides – often found in libraries
– writing magazines – subscribe to at least one writing magazine and share with friends
– writer’s websites and blogs – search online
– word of mouth – ask a represented or published author friend
-books in bookstores – find one like yours and look for the publisher’s name. Often the agent will be listed in the Acknowledgements or Dedication
Next month, we’ll discuss the process of building believable characters, so hope to see you back again.
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Donna Schlachter writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas, full-length novels, and non-fiction books. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, SinC, Pikes Peak Writers, and CAN; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests.
Find her on: Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Smashwords, Etsy,