How to define your genre (or maybe not….)

This past week I’ve been booking a blog tour of book reviewers. This has involved filling in loads of forms, with author pics and bios and I’m very excited to say that I have a tour booked with Rachel’s Random Resources for 10th  16th November.

BlogTourRRR

In my last blog post I was whingeing (sorry, writing) about how difficult it was to write a blurb for my book.  This week I’ve found another hurdle that had me skittering away like a spooked pony and was a major stumbling block when I was filling out Rachel’s form.

My stumbling block consisted of just three little words.

 Define.  Your.  Genre.

So I did what I always do when I’m spooked.  I turned to the experts.  In this case one of my go-to how to write books, ‘Love Writing’ by the very talented Sue Moorcroft (link here) who knows more about writing than I ever will ever. 

Sue says genre is important for these reasons.

1. Publishers need to know where to place a book on their lists.

2. Booksellers need to know where to place it on their shelves.

3. Publicists need to know to understand what they’re promoting.

BUT

4. Most important of all:  Readers need to know if you write the kind of thing they like to read.

Now there’s no point reading the advice of an expert like Sue if you’re not prepared to buckle down and act on it.  So, that is what I did.

This is the conversation between me and my Inner Critic (IC) , the voice in my head that’s nagged at me ever since the moment I signed the contract for Murder Served Cold and everything became horribly real.  (Publication date October 19th…. eek!)

Me:  It says… (groans) Define your genre.  What?  I can’t do this.

IC: Of course you can’t.  You don’t even know what genre means.

Me: Yes I do.  I’m a writer.  I know things. 

IC: Go on then.  What does it mean?

Me: Well, um,  it means what sort of a book is it.  

IC: Oh right. I see.  Is there a genre then for rubbish, then?

Me: No, it means where would you find this in, say, a bookshop or a library?

IC: The waste bin?  The recycling box?

Me: According to Sue, it’s to help people decide whether or not they want to read my book.  Say, for example, you were a lover of horror, then my book would probably not be your thing.

IC: So whose ‘thing’ will it be?  Who do you think will want to read Murder Served Cold?  

Me:  Well, it’s a murder mystery –

IC: Really?  I’d never have guessed from the title.  So, does that mean there’s lots of blood and gore in it?

Me: Oh no, nothing like that.  I’m a bit squeamish and not very good at blood and gore.  But there’s plenty of humour, as well as a touch of romance.  

IC: Ooh!  Lots of sexy scenes then?

Me: Well, no.  I’m afraid not.  I’m not very good at sexy scenes either.  I keep thinking of people I know reading it.

IC: But just now you were worried that nobody would read it.

Me: I know.  But if they did…  Anyway, I’ve got to come up with a genre.  It says so here on Rachel’s form.  So I’ve been checking out other books that are similar to mine and I think I’m going to put Cosy Crime as the genre.  Besides, that’s what it says on my book’s cover.

IC: Cosy crime?  Do you mean it’s about little old ladies who knit running round solving mysteries, helped by their cats? 

Me:  Absolutely not.  Kat is a struggling young journalist – or she would be if someone gave her a job.  She’s part of the ‘boomerang’ generation.  There’s no knitting involved.

IC: Ha! But there’s a cat in it.  I knew it.

Me: Not that sort of cat.  Her name’s Kat, only no one ever remembers to call her that.  And she – oh, you’ll just have to read the book.

IC: Me?  You’ve got to be kidding.  Cosy Crime is so not my ‘genre’. Particularly if there are no knitting grannies or crime solving cats in it.

On a lighter note…

If, like IC above, cosy crime is not your genre either then how about revisiting the classics?

I have recently discovered dailylit.com, a website that delivers bite sized pieces of fiction which are sent to your inbox every day.  At the moment, I am thoroughly enjoying revisiting E.M. Forster’s ‘Room with a View’, something I haven’t read since my schooldays.

(I wonder if E.M. Forster had to worry his head about what genre ‘Room With A View’ was?)

I find I really look forward to each day’s instalment and am at present on part 18/81.  I love the gentle pace of the book and had forgotten the pleasure in reading something slowly.  Everything I do at the moment seems to be done at breakneck speed, but this daily dose of E.M. Forster is a little oasis of calm in my busy day and I love it.

It’s not just the classics on offer from DailyLit but most genres (that word again!) and include fiction and non fiction.

Daily Prompts.  1st-15th October.

I hope you’re  finding my Daily Prompts useful as starting off points for your great ideas.  (link to Where do you get your ideas from?) I look forward one day to a writer, in answer to my question, “Where do you get your ideas from” replying: Why, Paula, from your Daily Prompts, of course! (IC: Huh! Watch out for flying pigs!)

1. “Where am I going?  I don’t know/What does it matter where people go?” A.A. Milne

2. My first day at school.

3. Leaving somewhere (or someone) for the last time.

4. My favourite place.

5. Riding for a fall.

6. Divided loyalties.

7. Holding a new born baby.

8. Hearing an echo.

9. You’re walking alone, along a dimly lit street, when you hear footsteps behind you.

10. A fall from grace.

11. Just beyond the edge of the woods.

12. Attempting to avoid someone.

13. “This is not about you,” I yelled.

14. The first star of the evening.

15. He that suppeth with the devil needs a long spoon. (Proverb)

And finally…

What’s your favourite genre?  And do you read slowly?  And, go on, tell me: where do you get your ideas from?  I’d love to know.

 

 

5 thoughts on “How to define your genre (or maybe not….)

  1. I’m a big fan of historicals! As long as they’re a) extremely well written and b) do not allow the main characters to announce the date on the first page, just in case we haven’t realised it’s set in the past. And yes, I read slowly – unless the book (any book) is so good I might just read it all night 🙂

    Ideas for writing seem to find me, somehow. If I go looking too hard for them they become elusive.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Penny. Yes, I know what you mean about main characters announcing the date on the first page! And I”m enjoying the slow reading. Although I did stay up very late into the small hours of the morning last week because I knew that if I didn’t finish the book I wouldn’t be able to sleep for thinking about it anyway. (It was a crime novel, A Room Full of Killers – Michael Wood. Great writer.)

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  2. Really interesting post. I once had a pitch opportunity with a publisher and when she asked me where I saw myself in the bookshop I was tempted to say, ‘next to Jonathan Coe and Paulo Coelho’. Instead I just froze and eventually stuttered ‘General Fiction.’ I’ve also been told that it is best not to describe yourself as ‘literary fiction’ as that is almost for the readers to decide.

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    1. Thank you for taking the trouble to comment, Colette. I really felt for you! If I’d been asked that question, I don’t think I would ever have been able to come up with the word Fiction. My mind goes blank when I’m under pressure.

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  3. I love historical, romance, crime…as well as armchair travelling. And speaking of travelling, I’ve always been a fan of timeslips. Currently reading Barbara Erskine’s Sleeper’s Castle. Riveting. And, having luckily received my copy earlier than expected, I’ve just completed your new book, Paula! Read it in one sitting….that’s how much I was gripped by it. Brava! Looking forward to the next one!
    I get my inspiration partly from my brain, which insists on trotting off at a tangent at the slightest word association or “what if?” I’m learning to utilise daily observations. Usually I’m worrying whether my great idea of the day has already been “done”, but I also understand there are many ways to treat an apparently much used subject or area ….putting one’s own twist on it. And then, having noted down ideas, the difficulty is trying to figure out what form they will take, and how on earth I plan a sustainable plot! Much procrastination followed by feverish scribbling. I go around for a day or two with an itch….and the release of finally getting pages filled is such a good feeling. (Until I get stuck again…) I’m currently thinking about some of your daily prompts, Paula. Very helpful!

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