Identifying the category of literature your book most closely aligns itself with means better chances of marketing success. I’ve seen too many authors confidently state they’ve written a great story that will appeal to many readers. Reality dictates consumers are indeed a fickle breed, so it is obviously in the author’s best interest to write with a target audience and the importance of genre in mind.
It’s common for new authors to be at once repelled and fascinated by the category under which their work in progress may or may not fall. On the one hand, your story might contain paranormal elements. Yet, you hesitate to categorize it as such. The plot could maintain a sense of mystery, but not necessarily read like a whodunit story. Perhaps various twists and turns align it with the thriller and horror genres as well.
Then one day, eureka! By reading a wide variety of genres, it becomes easier to pinpoint what each entails. While reading Denise Baer’s Net Switch, it dawned on me that I am attempting to write psychological suspense for my work in progress. Looking back on the literary short stories I penned in college, my best ones experimented with mentally unstable characters struggling to come to terms with events that have left them with a fractured notion of reality.
Which begs the question, do I know my competition? Not so much. I’m dutifully adding titles by psychological suspense and thriller authors to my TBR list. Yet, somewhere in the back of my mind, I still feel angst over a desire to create a story capable of being hailed as contemporary fiction or literary fiction. My goal is to attract as many readers as possible and I will continue doing my genre homework.
I suppose at the end of the day and as I near the end of this post, it’s suffice to say my analytical nature often gets the best of me. My desire to write is often eclipsed by that nagging voice that tells me I can’t compete, that my words will never be enough. I’m tired of listening to that voice. I can either continue to feel overwhelmed or just get on with it. I choose the latter.
How does the notion of genre figure into the choices you make as a reader and writer? Does genre really matter?
Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2012.