Friday, April 5, 2013

Genre Challenged

Joanna Penn posted an article earlier this week "Writing Fiction. What Is Urban Fantasy Anyway?" that got me to thinking about my own genre woes. I published a short story to Amazon a couple weeks ago (Saul Book I: Forgiveness). It's the first in a series. I had an awful time finding a category for it. It's not urban fantasy. Doesn't have the same feel as something like Neverwhere, and as Penn notes, the particular urban setting plays a prominent role in an urban fantasy. Saul isn't science fiction either. It's set in the future, but the focus isn't on technology and how we engage it. Saul has some supernatural elements but it's not really paranormal. The category I wanted was dystopian, but that wasn't an option. I finally settled on Futuristic and Conemporary Fantasy. Both of which sound so general as to be meaningless.

I could have picked one of those more popular categories like urban fantasy and argued why Saul fits, but I'm wondering if it's better to err toward the general instead of the specific. The last thing I want to do is disappoint a reader. Readers have expectations when they pick up an urban fantasy and if you don't meet them, no matter how good the story, they will feel cheated and probably angry at you the writer for wasting their time. Maybe Amazon will add a dystopian category or maybe I just didn't find it, although I'm 99% certain I scoured all the categories. Anyone else feel genre challenged?


  1. Yes!!!

    I have short stories that I would consider paranormal horror stories, and one that might be considered supernatural dystopian. And one that is a humorous horror story...and another humorous horror for kids :P. Of course, those aren't long enough to put up on Amazon, but I have them posted on Wattpad and trying to work with their even more limited genre selections is maddening.

    And my current novel-in-progress is going to be very hard to classify when it's time to shop agents and someday publish. It's part paranormal, part romance, but it is NOT paranormal romance. It's part horror, too. It's meant to appeal to women, but not generally the kind of women who read fiction typically written for women...

    Anyway, yes. I feel your frustration :).

  2. Always. I see all genre classifications as a necessary evil. My novel Engn is equally hard to classify, for instance. Yes, you don't want to set up inaccurate expectations in your readers. I generally use broad categories, but then get things like "dystopian" (or whatever) into my description so that searches pick it up...

  3. I've heard it referred to as the Walmart mindset: which shelf should customers find it on? Too many subgenres, not enough shelf space...