As a high school librarian, I have students who come in regularly looking for books in certain genres. They don’t worry about the author most of the time; they just want a “fantasy book with angels” or whatever it is they prefer. Occasionally they will branch out and ask for novels that friends have recommended, but the majority of the time they are looking for something similar to what they’ve been reading for years.
Your readers are no different. While of course there are plenty of people out there that read across genres, they still take them into account when picking a new book to read. If a reader knows they enjoy certain genres, they will first look for books within those genres. As an author, one of your best weapons for getting your book into the hands of these “genre readers” is to make sure you take the time to think about what genre(s) your novel falls into. While there is a whole realm of study on genre theory, you can’t deny that genres are basically there because we tend to gravitate to what we like and categorizing things is what humans do. You should take advantage of that.
You might ask, “what if my book spans various genres?” That’s okay! Genres, like Suspense and Mystery, tend to mesh together. Obviously you can go overboard with selecting genres for your work. In fact, retailers will only allow two genres per book and by making sure you are conscientious in picking those two genres, you can help readers find and select your book. For more information on this process, check out this video from our Learning Center.
Maybe sounds great to you, but you’re still stuck on how to classify your novel. One way to help narrow it down is to take some time and think of authors that write similar books to yours. Do you think your novels resemble those of Nicholas Sparks? Great! Check to see how Amazon and other vendors have listed his books. Explore brick and mortar bookstores. Where would your book fit on the shelf? If you want to attract the same readers that read Nicholas Sparks novels, you need to get their attention. By ensuring that your novel falls in the same category as Sparks, you will start showing up on lists of read-alike novels. Your books will be recommended to the readers you are hoping to attract, greatly increasing your chances of a sale.
When chosen correctly your book’s genre can become an important marketing tool. Keep in mind the three points we have touched upon and your book’s genre can help ensure your novel ends up in the hands of the right readers:
1. Readers tend to stick with genres they enjoy and will look for books similar to their favorites.
2. Select your genres carefully – you are only allowed two and you want to make sure you choose genres that will get your book into the hands of the readers you want to attract.
3. If you aren’t sure where to start, look at other books similar to yours. Use the genres they’re classified under as a starting point.