How to find out what genre my book fits into?


A common problem faced by novice writers is figuring out which genre to put their books in. Even if the writer is well acquainted with the genres, when it comes to their own piece of work, confusion is explicable. There are already many mainline genres, and sub-genres, while new sub-genres pops up every now and then. Thus, with no clear cut rules to determine a genre, and overlapping instances and components of a plot, deciding a genre becomes even more challenging. Then, how should we figure out genre of our books? Let’s find out how:

1. Understand the major genres: Even with the advent of new sub-genres, mainline genres are still quite crucial. Therefore their knowledge is a must for every writer. In fact, if you visit a library or book store, it is these genres according to which the bookshelves are divided, while the subgenres play important roles in online bookstores. They help in further identifying the books into specialized sub-genres according to readers’ interests, so that a reader can choose exactly the kind of books that he/she wants to read. Following are some of the major genres

  • Action/Adventure – Stories consisting of epic travels through a world full of adventures, violence and conflicts.
  • Biography – A work of literature where an entire life or some part of it belonging to a certain person is penned down.
  • Erotica – Stories filled with sexual content
  • Fantasy – Stories comprising of magical realms, supernatural creatures or beings, mystical figures.
  • History – A piece of work where a particular historical event or person is outlined.
  • Horror – Stories which fills the reader’s mind with fear
  • Literary fiction – A piece of work where focus is on the eminence of the literary prose
  • Mystery – stories that involve solving an enigma, generally murder or a crime
  • Non Fiction – Stories or piece of work involving real life stories, facts and figures, or guides for any kind of issue, or any other work which is not a work of fiction
  • Romance – Stories filled with love
  • Science Fiction – Stories involving technology (mostly imaginary and highly advanced), alternate worlds with scientific proficiency, aliens etc
  • Thriller/suspense – Stories built on a plot full of extreme tension with mystery or action as its base

Now, there are several sub genres also that you have to keep in mind, however, those can be combined with one or two mainline genres to form a single super specialized genre. For example, a book that features a classic instance of fantasy placed in a fictitious world with a protagonist who is a teen, it can be classified as a Teen Fantasy.

2. Consider the genres that suit your book: I’m sure when you started writing you must have had something in your mind regarding the genre. Now it’s time for you to go through the important elements of your book and consider whether it still fits into the same genre, or else, what genre it might fit into. You must keep in mind what the readers of that particular genre would be looking for and does your book meet the basic requirements. Be impartial, and not at all inclined to a genre you have in mind. Wrong genre would certainly mean a rejection, no matter how bad you wanted it to fit in.
Now, as I stated before too, for the traditional publishing figuring out a major genre with a couple of sub-genres to fill in is the requisite route. Whether you’re sending it out to an agent, or a publisher, choose your genre well, i.e. most accurate. However, if it is for a self-publishing online platform, you might choose the frontline genre with many more sub-genres to improve your chances of being discovered. Though, you cannot imprudently fill out unnecessary genres where your book would definitely stand out as a total disaster. For example, it is generally alright to blend a fantasy book with an action/adventure along with adult/teen/young adult or magic or paranormal or science fiction, if your books fulfill the genre’s requirements.

3. Example: Suppose we have to figure out a genre for ‘A Walk to remember’ by Nicholas Sparks. The book is about the school’s most popular guy, Landon, who gets a chance to spend some time with a girl named Jamie, a girl who he thought would be the last person in town he’d fall in love with. As they spend more and more time Landon, however, do fall in love with her, and so does she. And, then, it is revealed that Jamie suffers from a terminal disease and would die within a few months. The story basically focuses on how Jamie falls in love with her, and what changes he experience in himself because of that.

There is certainly a love story and a good one at that, and thus it does fit into the romance genre. Also, because of the main characters’ ages it also suits for young adult. Thus, “Young Adult Romance” is the genre of choice.