Many authors are at home in one genre and publish all their books in this field. However, when you publish your first book, it may not be easy at first to assign yourself to the correct genre. But is it really that important to be in the correct genre?
Why is It Important to Classify Books in the Correct Genre?
There are a few important reasons to place yourself in the correct genre.
Firstly, the expectations of readers play an important role. When looking for a new book, many readers first look in the genre they prefer to read. A misclassified book is disturbing for those who are looking for books in a different genre and readers who are interested in the correct genre of your book will not find it there.
It can also lead to bad reviews if readers are expecting a crime novel, for example, and are then disappointed to find that it is actually a social novel.
Also marketing will be easier if you can clearly classify your book in the correct genre. This will make it easy to determine your target audience or to contact bloggers who review books in this genre.
In general, books with a clear genre sell better than books that span over several genres. These quickly become niche products. So if you are still at the beginning of your writing process, you should keep this in mind.
What Influences the Genre?
But how do you find the correct genre? The genre is influenced by the main plot of your book, but factors such as the time in which your book is set can also influence the genre.
In addition to the main genre, such as crime novel, there are also subgenres that define your book more precisely, in the case of a crime novel, for example, a regional crime novel.
Of course, there are also overlaps between genres. An example of this would be a historical romance novel. This is basically a historical novel, but if the main plot of the book focuses on a love story and not mainly on the time in which it takes place, it is a historical romance novel.
So, when classifying your book, concentrate on the main plot of your book to achieve a correct classification.
Below you will find an overview of popular genres with examples of sub-genres that can help you to classify your book in the correct genre:
- A non-fictional topic is dealt with
- Author usually has a concrete opinion on the topic
- Often a current event is given
- A topic is presented in an understandable way
- Knowledge is imparted
- The target group wants to learn how to do something
Often a common theme, e.g. vegan cuisine, cakes, etc.
Tips and information on travelling in a certain region or under a certain theme e.g. Scotland trip, the best mountain tours in the Alps or eco-friendly travelling in Asia
Advice on how readers can deal with certain situations or circumstances, or how they can develop themselves, e.g. self-love.
A non-fictional topic is explained as objectively as possible.
The target audience is a professional audience
The topic is presented in a professional/scientific way.
Textbook / Schoolbook
The target audience are people who are in school, training or further education.
It is a reference work which deals with the subject matter of a specific field of knowledge or the like in a systematic, lexical form.
Description of the life of a real person
All events are true
Author describes his or her own life
Person recounts his or her own memories and is an important figure in world history
Focus is primarily on social and/or political circumstances
- Action often takes place in a world that is different from ours.
- Things are possible that do not exist in reality, e.g. magical abilities.
- There are fantastic figures or creatures
- The protagonist fights for her life or the lives of others.
Mixture of fantasy and horror
Plot takes place in a self-contained world
The focus is on the history of this world which is threatened by danger.
Plot takes place in the real world with fantastic elements
- Story takes place in the future in a changed world
- The change takes into account the chemical/physical realities of our world
- Technology has mostly developed extremely
Utopias & Dystopias
Center of the plot is a fictional society
Depicted with positive change as a utopia or with more negative change as a dystopia.
The characters move between different time levels.
The story centers on a (human-like) being, a computer or software with artificially created intelligence.
- Centre of the plot is a crime.
- Protagonist is usually an investigator
- There are usually one or more mysteries to solve: e.g. Who did it? What is the motive? How did it happen?
Regional Crime Novel
The setting is a real place (village, town, island or region) which is incorporated into the plot in detail.
The suspense comes from the mystery: who, how and why was a crime committed. No brutal language and (mostly) no brutal scenes.
Mental abysses play a major role. Even if the crime is solved, there is no “happy ending”.
- Centre of the plot is a life-threatening development
- Protagonist fights alone or with others against these developments
- Often not only the main character is threatened but also, for example, the family or inhabitants of a certain place.
Fights and car chases are a big part of the plot.
Suspense is created by hints, primal fears are addressed, some things are left to the reader’s imagination.
Life-threatening development is based on a catastrophe, e.g. a natural or man-made disaster.
- The plot centres on love and the relationship between the protagonists.
- The relationship is usually connected with difficulties or an obstacle
- One or more protagonists usually struggle to build a stable relationship or connection.
Sexuality is described in detail and openly and plays a central role.
One or more main characters have supernatural abilities, which usually do not originate from magic, fairy tales or legends but tend more towards science fiction.
The lovers are of the same sex.
- The plot takes place in historical times
- The story takes place within the framework of historical facts, but these are embellished and there is no claim to scientific accuracy.
- Historical characters and fictional characters may appear side by side
Romance set in the past.
Historical Crime Novel
Crime novel set in the past. These can be real criminal cases or fictional ones.
Thriller set in the past.
- Plot depicts the social life of man and his interaction with nature and society.
- The focus is not on a main character but on the events and social upheavals.
- Protagonist comes to terms with himself and with the environment
- The plot revolves around the spiritual development of the protagonist.
The education of a person is described. The focus is on educational measures and their effects.
The main character is a teenager or young adult.
- Main characters are part of a family, usually involving several generations
- The plot deals with conflicts within a family
The story of several main characters belonging to at least three different generations of the family is told
- Main character or characters are on a journey
- The plot is usually told chronologically
- Plot focuses on scary things, with the effect of the story in the foreground (fear, tension, etc.)
- Contents are portrayed realistically
- Supernatural things are often part of the plot
Intense horror with a lot of bloodshed
Horror elements are supernatural beings such as ghosts, witches and wizards, the devil or demons.
Horrifying creatures are part of the known world