Categorizing Your Book
- By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jan 12 2012
My book is set twenty years in the future, but it’s more of a YA paranormal romance. Does a storyline set in the future make it automatically science fiction? I’m just not sure how to word my query: A paranormal romance with a futuristic twist is what I have right now.
Almost every book could have separate categories, because truthfully, almost every book has elements of different genres in it. Who is the core audience for your book? It sounds like your book is truly YA with SF elements. I suppose you could say the same for Hunger Games, which, as a dystopian, would technically be called SF, but because the voice and the true audience is YA, it’s YA.
If your book is a paranormal romance with a futuristic twist, it’s a paranormal romance and that’s where it would be shelved and that’s the audience you would sell to.
The question you need to ask yourself is where in the bookstore would it be shelved, which genre? That’s what you would call your book.
If the writer is still unsure how to categorize his/her work, might I suggest a trip to a local bookstore? In fact, this is where a large chain like B&N can come in handy. Chain stores generally have a larger stock, and are hence more likely to stock a wider range of titles. Find the YA titles in the store, and read the cover blurbs. Do any sound like your genre–even somewhat? If so, take note where they're placed. Or, if the shelving doesn't indicate a sub-genre, look either at the back of the book, or inside. The publisher usually provides categorization information which assists bookstores with shelving.
Another source of help might be reading other people's queries. Check out the Workshop Wednesday posts here, or Lauren Ruth's QueryDice on her SlushPileTales blog, or Janet Reid's QueryShark blog. The query authors always note their novel's genre, and if they've mis-categorized it, correction is usually given. Again, does the query sound similar in theme to your work? If so, take note of the genre.
I hope that helps. 🙂
Excellent advice, Jessica!
Is a book set 10 years in the past, aka, The Future of Us by Asher and Mackler, a historical?
Answer that question, and you'll have answered yours. ;o)
I wish more of the online retail book web sites where digtal books are sold would categorize with accuracy. I'm not surprised anymore to see how poorly it's done almost everywhere. It's a often problem for readers and authors. So before anyone buys a digital book, it's always best to check out the publisher web site first. This is where they get the categorizing right.
This might be a stupid question, but is "general fiction" a category when querying? I only ask b/c I went to the bookstore to by a well-known chick lit book and was told they didn't have chick-lit. It was in general fiction.
This is excellent advice. I know I've struggled with where my book fits. Focusing on what the audience is and where it would be shelved is a great idea. Thanks!
It's possible for a book to have elements of several genres in it, but the author or the literary agent should be able to pin-point the most dominant or overarching genre of the book.
I'd like to somewhat echo Anonymous's comment. I have a novella set around ten years in the future. There are no flying cars or floating touch-screen computers (like "Minority Report").
So I'm not calling it SF.
I hope this helps.
I think more and more authors will have this sort of question as we continue to try and find that new "outside the box" thing that's going to be the next hot ticket.
Figuring out where it would sit in the shelves of a bookstore is a great way to categorize a story. I'd assume thinking of how you'd search for the book online might be just as effective.
Great advice as always, Jessica!