Genres Can be More Than a Little Confusing
There is perhaps nothing more perplexing in all of writing than trying to understand genre. While preparing this paper, I ran across the following sub-genres for Romance: Suspense, Paranormal, Fantasy, Time-Travel, Futuristic, Licensed Theme, Medical, Regency, Medieval, Highland, War, Gothic, Western, and Mail-Order Bride. And these are by no means all that fall into the Romance bailiwick. There were a couple dozen more.
In the Mystery category we have the Cozy, Police Procedural, Forensic Hard-Boiled Crime, Serial Killer, Suspense, Thriller, Legal Thriller, Medical Thriller, Technical Thriller; and other extended Mystery subdivisions that include Science Fiction, Gay, Military, Political, Paranormal, and so many more that the separation is beyond blurred. To confuse anyone to the point of no return, if that’s not the case already, take a look at the Writer’s Digest genre listing. And it’s not all-inclusive.
What Makes Genre Even More Complex Is That It’s Often Not Specific to a Particular Publisher
Long ago, the editor-in-chief with a major publisher indicated to me that one of my novels was rejected because it did not fit into the firm’s definition of a Thriller, since its titles are exclusively “gruesome murders by a serial killer tracked down by a cop who is in turn threatened.” Traditional Thrillers involve international intrigue and a life-and-death struggle to save the planet (or close to it), which is the way my story was written.
An Author Must Determine the Genre and Relevant Sub-Genre in Which the Novel Is Written
The point is obvious. A writer must determine the sub-genre in which his or her work is written, and then tailor the presentation to the agent and/or publisher to whom the material is being presented–as this relates to books that particular agent has placed or the publisher has printed. This requires parsing books on the agent’s or publisher’s list to make certain the submitted novel is indeed complementary. An author who makes this effort can eliminate the major hurdle that a submission is “not a solid match,” since the writer will know beforehand that this could not possibly be the case.
Robert L. Bacon, Founder
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