One of the many challenges I’ve faced in trying to market and publish my novel is determining the genre it fits into. I realize that some authors might begin their writing with a genre already firmly in mind (or heart) or organize their characters and plot to fit a particular genre due to their own interest in it, its marketability/popularity, or their own writing history with that particular genre (e.g., they have always written romance and want to continue in that genre / want to venture into new genres).
For me, my writing began with an idea of characters and plot that merged slowly and steadily (for the most part) into its final form. Only then, when I began the process of querying agents did I consider the genre of my book.
I know, I was rather naive about it.
I had thought that good writing would guarantee me a match with an agent, and so I pushed myself rather single-mindedly in that area. Any published author or writer who has been working to publish their manuscript for even a little while will tell you, though, that writing is only a portion of the journey to publication. If I could go back, I would consider the genre and even have generated a list of potential agents based on that genre/sub-genre prior to beginning the writing process. The old adage continues to be true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And in this case, the prevention I would have taken was to consider genre/sub-genre, marketability, and placement of my book at the beginning, along with the more conventional writing issues of voice, characterization, and pacing.
One site that has been helpful in organizing my own thinking about the variety of genres out there is AgentQuery’s listing. If you really want to dive down the rabbit hole, I also recommend Writer’s Digest’s exhaustive sub-genre summary.
Having now done my due diligence in considering the genre of my book (however haphazardly and backwards the process may have been), I feel confident saying it is a work of contemporary fiction with a strong dash of psychological thriller/suspense. With my next manuscript that I’ve just begun, I’m forcing myself to devote that precious time at the beginning to these questions of genre and marketability, even though as writers our heart often pulls us to the story more than the platform.
Wishing you the best of luck in your writing–and your genre explorations!