What genre would ‘ghost story’ belong to? I know paranormal would apply on one level, but what other factors determine its true ‘nature’? There can be arguments made for mystery/thriller/suspense/horror/romance depending on the storyline, I suppose, but when deciding which agents to query it can get a little confusing, especially for a first time author. In my case, for example, there is no romance, possibly a mystery in that the MC is trying to determine who/what/why is haunting her, but not a mystery in the traditional sense. I hope there is suspense, and a few thrills, but I don’t think I’d consider it horror, although I could be wrong. Hence my confusion!
An interesting question, since I really have no idea what a ghost story would be, other than those creepy tales we told around the campfire as kids. I suspect your book belongs in general fiction, but for anyone who isn’t sure where their book fits in bookstores, my advice is to do your research. Whose writing would you compare yourself to, and most important, what individual books or stories would you compare yours to. Who would buy this book? Readers of what authors would be interested in your story? When you do this exercise, I urge you not to look at any author who was published more than five to ten years ago or any author or book that has become a New York Times bestseller. The market is a very different thing than it was five years ago, it’s very different than it was two years ago, and going too far back in time taints your research. Books published that long ago might not even be considered in today’s market and it might not be shelved in the same section. Bestselling books are no longer one of the masses. They are now celebrity books and can’t be compared to a title written by a new author. The genre of Stephen King’s titles, for example, is Stephen King. He’s a genre all on his own, as are Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, Tom Clancy, and any other authors who are regulars on the bestseller lists.
If all else fails, label your book fiction with paranormal elements. It gets the idea across.
I’m curious to hear from readers. Because I get asked so often how a book should be categorized I’m curious to know how you decided on a label or genre for your book.