Posts Tagged With: genre

Nail Your Genre in 3 Easy Steps

Last week, I talked about how you can write a novel in any genre, as long as you know exactly what that genre is.  And believe me, you desperately need to define your book’s genre. As promised, here’s a nuts and bolts plan that shows you how to do it, in three outrageously simple steps:

1)  Pick a genre.  And by that, I mean walk into a major chain bookstore and wander the aisles until you find the section where your book belongs.  If it ain’t on a sign, bucko, it ain’t a genre!

2)  Find three recent, successful books in that genre that bear at least a passing similarity to yours.  Close enough that you could tell a complete stranger, “If you like this book, you might like mine!”

3)  Figure out the single most important thing that makes your story unique and fascinating.  You want to be able to say, “My book is like this one, except…” and then point out the key difference.  Example: “My book is like Robert B. Parker’s Spare Change, only the detective is a homeless man who can see the ghosts of the victims.”  Or whatever.

If it sounds like I’m coaching you on how to eventually approach a literary agent, then (BING!) check out your big brain.  I am.  You need to have this stuff figured out long before you send your manuscript to anyone.  (Bonus tip: you can start with the agents of the books you found in Step 2.  But not until you’re ready!)

Now, if you can’t find any successful books that are anything at all like yours — and I mean not even remotely — then I hate to say it, but you’re in trouble, my friend.  Rethink your concept and rework it until you can do the steps above.  Because if you can’t, then the marketing people at the publisher can’t.  And if they can’t, then your book is torpedoed.  Dead in the water.  Boom.

And nobody wants that. So get yourself to a bookstore, toots, and see what’s what!

Categories: how to write a novel, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Want to Get Published? Know Your Genre!

You can write a novel in any genre you want, as long as you know what it is.  To me, a “genre” is anything that comes with a certain set of expectations.  If you tell me your story is a hard-boiled mystery, then I’ll know what to expect.  If you tell me it’s a time-travel romance, I know what to expect.  But if you tell me your story is so original that it defies all genres, I just scratch my head, because I have no idea what to expect.

With an editor, it’s a little more cut and dried. Genres have very specific definitions. Mystery is one thing, Fantasy is another. Tell an editor that your book doesn’t fit into a genre and you’re doomed.

For example, meet George.  George doesn’t have a genre.

EDITOR:  What genre is this?

GEORGE:  It’s not really in one particular genre, it’s set in ancient Egypt, and it’s got vampires, and there’s a time-traveling robot who falls in love with a detective from Brooklyn, and–

EDITOR:  PASS, thanks.  Now scram.

Don’t be George!  Pick a genre that the publisher can sink their teeth into.  By that, I mean “Science Fiction” is a genre.  “Cyberpunk” is not.  I love William Gibson as much as the next guy, but there isn’t an actual Cyberpunk section at Barnes and Noble, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by calling it that.

A friend of mine once had a manuscript catch the eye of the editor-in-chief of a major publisher.  He took it to the marketing meeting, it was discussed, and the consensus was that his book was too much of this genre and too much of that, and not enough to fit squarely into one or the other.  So they passed.  He went from hero to zero in the course of one meeting.  Ouch.

Don’t let that crash and burn happen to you.  If you want to get published, pick your genre carefully! How? Stay tuned, and I’ll walk you through it, step by step!

Categories: how to write a book, how to write a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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