So, yay, my first post as part of the Insecure Writers’ Group 🙂 For ages, I’ve noticed people in my writing world posting as part of this group (Susan Kaye Quinn for one). It’s an author-to-author support group.
Insecurity comes with writing, and this year, a lot of things have come into focus for me – things that have made me question everything. So I thought I’d join, and have a
whinge rant vent conniption outpouring of the writers’ soul.
In 2014, I became a hybrid author, but for the most part, I’m indie. Which means I have to make all kinds of writing decisions all on my own.
One of the biggest things for me during this writing journey has been the genre battle. I want to write what I want to write and say hell-to-the-no about worrying myself sick in regard to genre. But it’s really not that easy. And when it comes time to uploading your book on Amazon or Apple, you’re faced with a wall of genre options, and your book MUST fit in somewhere.
And there’s the problem. Genres come with genre expectations, and one does not simply slot one’s book in somewhere and hope for the best. If you put your book in romance, it had better have a HEA (happy-ever-after) or else. If you put your book in fantasy when it’s actually more sci fi than fantasy, then you risk alienating readers. If your protagonist is attracted to her friend’s boyfriend, readers may not forgive her (ever! Trust me on that one.). If an animal is hurt or killed in your novel, readers may cast you into the fiery pits of hell (luckily, although I wasn’t aware of this point until recently, no animals were hurt in the making of my books 😀 )
And when your book is a mix of YA/horror/Gothic/fantasy/sci fi/adventure/aliens/time-travel/dystopian/romance – watch out! And yes, those genres describe my first 4-book offering.
I’ve noticed that the tighter your book fits to a genre, the easier many aspects are. If you write fairies, mermaids, werewolves, vampires, angels, demons, witches or something well-defined, often you have a built-in audience who is looking for your stories.
Also, readers who dislike stories about fairies and vampires etc won’t pick up your book – which is an important point – because really, you want the readers who love what you write to pick up your book, not the ones who don’t. When your book is a big mix of genres and sub-genres, you will probably get many readers who like one or two genres that your book fits into, but they’re going to get head spins with all the other things in your book.
I’m currently writing something new – an eerie Gothic romance. I started out wanting to stick with genre norms, and write a romance, but I’ve done the slide into light horror and sci fi. It just happened. And again, I’m going to have the problem of which category to put my book and worrying about alienating readers and not giving them what they thought they’d be getting.
And there’s that sick feeling in my stomach again. I’m going to get readers who wanted more romance finding the sci fi elements too weird. I’m going to get readers who wanted more weird stuff/horror finding the story too tame. Already, I know my book is going to annoy, confuse, scare or upset some readers. And that’s hard.
I’m trying to tell myself that I’m lucky to get readers at all. I am still blown away that anyone would read the stuff that comes out of my head. But excuse me while I curl up foetal in a dark corner for a while and beat myself up over why I can’t manage to write something that’s more tightly focused.
How about you? Do you write tightly to a specific genre or does your writing tend to wander?
Credit: Image of mystic woods