One of the first things you have to do when you join the community is pick a genre. We’ve structured the Book Country site to guide you in that decision: The Genre Map, the Genre Pages, and the Landmark Titles are there to aid you in making your genre selection and connecting you to writers with similar interests.
“What is this whole genre thing about, anyway?”
A lot of writers ask us that. They feel constrained by the conventions and tropes of a single category. “My book is both funny and romantic,” they say. “It’s a mystery and it has time travel.”
Your book can incorporate many different elements, but it can only have one genre: because it can only be shelved in one place in the bookstore.
Genre is about calling out to a specific audience, knowing to whom it’ll appeal. If you want people to read your book–whether they peruse it on Book Country or procure it from an online or physical bookstore–you need to reach out to those readers in a very conscious way. As a writer, you need to be strategic about the ways people discover your work. The shortcut to finding an audience is through genre. Genre readers know what they like and know what they’re getting. For example, in romance, readers expect that the characters will change for each other. Thriller readers want their heart pound from the fast pace while mystery lovers expect a puzzle, as we discussed last week. Genre not only determines the tone, pace, and theme of your book, but it also drives the way the finished product looks, and where it’s placed in the store so that readers can find your book.
Here’s how to choose a genre on Book Country:
Step 1 – Study the Genre Map and Pages
Go over to the Genre Map and click on a genre region you think would fit your book. It’ll take you to that genre’s page where you should read the description of that literary category. Does this sound like your book? Are the authors mentioned ones you’ve read and admired? If so, you’re on the right track to finding the right home for your book.
Step 2 – Look Closely at a Genre’s Landmark Books
Next, scroll down on the genre page. Look at the Landmark Books. These are significant/bestselling books for that category. Have you read these titles? You should. They’re the best way to understand the nuances of the genre. Ask you read, ask yourself: Could my book sit among the greats of the category?
Pay particular attention to books that published in the last couple of years; they will give you a sense of any trends in the genre–what people are reading and what editors are acquiring.
It’s also important to notice how the covers are being presented. This is a visual clue for readers that a book fits into the category they like to read. Would your book fit? (See how the fonts on the covers of the Historical Romance Landmark Books are all similar? These are important details to remember when you create a cover for your book.)
Step 3 – Use the Discussion Forums for a Gut Check
Your fellow community members struggle with the same questions you do. If you’re wondering if the subgenre is quite right: “Perhaps my book is not urban but contemporary fantasy?”, ask the community! Search the forums to see if this topic has already been covered. Or, start a discussion in one of the Genre Talk forums–a treasure trove of genre knowledge–to voice your dilemma and ask for feedback. Give a short synopsis and a link to your manuscript, and explain how it could belong to different categories.
Step 4 – Ask Your Readers for Genre Feedback
When you get feedback from the community, scout for genre-specific comments. Perhaps one of your reviewers said she is an avid fan of the genre but doesn’t think your manuscript quite fits the bill? Pay attention to such remarks. You can even encourage your reviewers in the About the Book section to think about genre and how it relates to the other feedback criteria.
Community vs. Publish Genre Selection
Book Country is a writing and publishing community where you can workshop your writing and publish an eBook. Depending on which track you’re on at the moment–workshopping or publishing–the genre selection on the site is different.
The Community Genres–as displayed on our Genre Map–are fewer that the ones you can select from if you’re publishing. We have chosen to focus on popular categories that lend themselves to collaborative writing, which is why not all book types are part of the genre map.
The Publish Genres are much more specific in scope. We know the importance of pegging the right audience, so we have the full range of subgenres available so that you can be clear about the kind of book you’ve written. So, for example, while you can’t workshop your cookbook on Book Country, there are nine different Cooking subcategories that you can choose from in Publish.
Happy writing and let us know how YOU decided to categorize your book!