Genre: Your Novel’s Genre Matters by Ronel Janse van Vuuren
Today I am featuring a guest post by New Adult, Young Adult and Children’s author Ronel Janse van Vuuren from South Africa.
I met Ronel through Insecure Writer’s Support Group while visiting her blog. I enjoyed it so much I started following her. She posted her book Genre Jardon on her site.
A thoughtful and researched topic that I enjoyed a great deal, so I ask her if she would be interested in writing a short post on the subject for my Author Spotlight on Writer’s Gambit. You can see what she has to say about book genre below.
Your Novel’s Genre Matters
by Ronel Janse van Vuuren
You’ve written the book you wanted to write, but it’s a little vague which genre your book falls into. You’ve compared it to Harry Potter meets James Bond with a dash of Hunger Games. Uhm, sure. But which genre is your book really?
If you’ve ever queried agents or publishers, you’ll know how important defining the genre of your book is. And you also know that a cross-genre novel isn’t as appealing to them as you might think.
So how do you write a grabbing one-liner about your thrilling Harry Potter meets James Bond with a dash of Hunger Games novel?
You already know that it’s a Young Adult novel because of the age range. Now you have to figure out which one genre to add to YA in your query letter. Because saying it’s an Urban/Dystopian Action/Adventure Young Adult Fantasy novel just won’t work.
- Read books you feel are similar to yours in theme and content.
- Research what those books are classified as.
- Cut through the various confusing definitions of each genre (because no-one agrees about what is what).
- Choose the genre you are most comfortable with and rewrite your book, if necessary, to properly fit into it.
But I like the whole cross-genre thing. What’s your problem, Ronel? (You might be asking.)
I did a little experiment on Wattpad to see how a book will fare if it straddles various genres.
All Wattpad “experts” will agree that if you want your book noticed, you have to publish at least once a week. Something to do with algorithms.
I launched Twisted Tales in January to see if multiple genres will work. A flash fiction piece from Ronel the Mythmaker was published every day until the 28th of February.
Mmm… when I published Just Deserts last over the span of a week, it climbed the rankings of Chicklit very quickly. Each chapter followed seamlessly into the next. The tags were clearly about themes you’d find in Chicklit. And, if I have to say so myself, it’s an awesome story.
Twisted Tales only has a couple of reads. It’s not on anyone’s reading list. It’s not ranking anywhere, even though the tags are absolutely about the content of the book.
The problem? Too many genres for one book. It has everything from High Fantasy to Chicklit. It’s too much. Readers expecting one thing don’t want to read something else.
My advice: pick a genre and stick to it. An anthology of Dark Fantasy stories would’ve done very well…
The point of this little anecdote? Find your genre and you’ll find your target audience.
Genre is more than just a description of characters, theme, and setting. It defines where your book will be placed on a shelf. Readers expecting a thrilling adventure with high-speed car chases, explosions, and awesome weaponry will be sadly disappointed if your Harry Potter meets James Bond with a dash of Hunger Games novel is just about a wizard who is actually a spy in a magic school where it’s pass your classes, or become dinner (no explosions, weapons or cool cars whatsoever).
Finding the right genre for your book is a hard road with invisible potholes. But it’s worth it. And I’m saying this while rewriting my Contemporary/Paranormal/Magical Realism/Urban Fantasy novel into a proper Dark Fantasy Young Adult novel with all the expectations of readers of this genre in mind.
For more about defining genres, check out my Book Genre Jargon post on Ronel the Mythmaker. How do you feel about cross-genre novels? What’s your experience been in finding the right genre to fit your novel?
Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker . She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK. She’s also a judge for Cracked Flash Fiction Competition.
Ronel can be found tweeting on Twitter about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.
MORE WRITING BY RONEL: Short Fiction & Other Works