What Genre Is My Book?

By on April 8, 2016
What Genre Is My Book? - Writer's Life.org

So you have written your book and are geared up to send it off to publishers and agents, or perhaps you have decided to go down the self-publishing route.

Whatever you decide to do next, you need to pick a genre that your book fits into and find a target readership for your novel. Picking the right genre can be tricky, and can have a direct impact on how many books you sell.

If you are sending your book to publishers, you will need to be able to easily define your books genre, and tell them why it will fit into that market and appeal to fans of that kind of writing.

Most booksellers and readers are familiar with the most common genres, these are:



Science Fiction







Agents and editors and even sites where you can self-publish your work will ask you to define which of these genres your book fits into. Agents and editors tend to focus their attention on specific genres, and some simply won’t be interested in your work if it doesn’t fit into the genre that they work in. Make sure you find this out before you throw your book into the ether. There is no point in sending your thrilling detective novel to an agent who only deals in children’s books, is there?

You need to be clear about the genre which your book fits into, a little bit of this and a little bit of that will only put an agent or publisher off.

If you aren’t clear, how can you possibly know who your target audience is, or how to market your book? And if you don’t know an agent or publisher isn’t going to spend their time trying to find out.

To help you discover your books genre, here’s what you’ve got to do:

1. Get to know the different options

Use Amazon for this, or even take a look in your local bookstore. This will give you a thorough idea of how books are classified. Look at the descriptions and synopses for these books. What do they have in common? What are the main points? What do they focus on? If you have written a book about a woman who falls passionately in love with a detective and the plot focuses on their relationship developing, then the book is likely to be a romance novel.

If you have written a story about a troubled detective solving a brutal murder, who just happens to meet and have a relationship with a woman as an aside to this, you book sounds like it should sit under the thriller/ crime genre.

2. Write down the key plot points in your own work

Once you thoroughly understand each genre, inspect your own work and write down 5-10 main points about it. Is it set in another world and has elements of magic? Does it involve violence, a crime, a murder? Is it a love story?

Once you have noted all of these then try to understand where the main focus lies, what drives the plot and what the main characters interests and goals are. Once you understand what is most important about your book you will have a better idea of which genre it fits into.

3. Identify your reader

What kind of person is most likely to read your book, what are they looking for in a book, and how old are they?

Identify the type of people who are most likely to read the kind of book you have written, which other authors would they enjoy reading? 

Finding out who your potential fans are and why they would love your book will give you better insight into the kind of book you have written, and where it should sit on the shelves.

4. Think about your sub-genre

While it is not OK to be vague about your genre, it is OK to mention more than one if you offer a mix of different genres in your book. In my own novel, ‘Doctor Vanilla’s Sunflowers’ I had to think about this carefully. There are definitely elements of fantasy and magic. but predominantly it is a thriller. However, bookstores understand that it is important to guide readers as thoroughly as possible so they know what kind of book they are buying, and therefore will be willing to put your novel into different sections if it makes sense to do so.

For example, in bookstores 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers' now sits under Crime, Thrillers & Mystery > Thrillers as well as Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror > Horror & ghost stories. To identify the different ‘flavors’ your book brings is actually really helpful to the reader, it shows you have thought carefully about your genre, and will help them make a decision about whether it is the right book for them.

So however you plan to publish you book, understanding how to pick the right genre for your novel is crucial.

These tips will teach you how to identify the strongest elements from your story and ones that your readers will be looking for when they come to by your book.

Remember, the more accurate and helpful you can be, the more likely you are to find fans of your work and therefore increase your sales too!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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