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Let's Talk About… Book Genres

So lately I’ve had a hard time with authors tossing their books into genres they don’t belong in to fit the reviewer.  That’s so frustrating as a reviewer because I get dozens of requests a week.  It takes a lot of time to sort through requests from authors who’s books don’t really fit in my requested categories.

When you look for readers, really what you’re looking for are buyers and reviewers.  No author likes bad reviews however… when you pitch your book in a genre it doesn’t really belong in it does a couple things:

-It makes you look really desperate, which just like in dating, is never a good thing.
-It will get you bad reviews… if a blogger who loves romance accepts your sci-fi ya novel about a girl with a secret crush she never acts on… likely the reviewer will feel duped and not give you a glowing review.

I can’t stress how important it is to take the time and find readers who love your genre.  I get that we live in an impatient, instant gratification world but being an author isn’t one of those ‘instant results’ kind of job.

Here is where I’ve had the most trouble lately… ‘chick lit’.  It doesn’t mean what it sounds.  This is NOT just a genre for your book about women, for women.  It’s a genre that you can read more about here.

There are genre ‘categories’ on Amazon that all books are listed in.  Lately the ‘chick lit’ genre is flooded with books that DO NOT belong there.  (other categories have the same problem)

Erotica is NOT chick lit… it’s erotica (nothing against you it’s just not my thing), even if there’s a little bit or a lot, it’s erotica and you won’t get grand reviews by listing it in the wrong category to get more buyers.  (I mention this because it’s the genre listed in the wrong places the most)  It’s not fair to potential readers and it’s not fair to authors whose books actually belong in the genre and can’t be found through all the books that shouldn’t be there.

I get it… selling books is hard, time consuming and takes money.  But it is what it is.

Let’s do a little ‘roleplay’.

Say you’re a vegan… vegan restaurants are hard to come by at times… especially in the fast food industry.  If a restaurant who DIDN’T serve vegan food, besides french fries, listed themselves in the Vegan listings and you went there to eat… you’d be super irritated.  The book world is the same.  You can’t force your book on people who don’t love the genre thinking that they should love it because of a one chapter piece about women.  That doesn’t make it ‘chick lit’ or ‘romance’.

Genres exist because sellers and readers want buyers who are actually interested in your genre of book to be able to find it easily and buy it.  Listing in correct genres is how you will find your actual readers.  The ones who will continually buy your work and rave about it to everyone they know.  In all honesty you really can avoid some negative reviews if you’re pitching to the right readers.  The time and effort it takes to find them will be worth it in the long run.

So to sum it up… do some research on genres before you choose what’s most popular.  Use beta readers to tell you what genre they’d consider your book.  Make sure your cover matches the correct genre.  So many times I see covers that don’t portray the story and that really does hurt your sales.  A bad cover can kill a great book.  This is part of the reason I do ‘What I thought of the Cover’ section in my reviews.  It’s important and it can make or break a book just like choosing the correct genre.  Make sure your genre & cover portray your story and YOU as an author.  You’re not just selling books here, you’re selling yourself as an author.

Tell me about the issues you’re seeing as readers and authors with ‘genres’ & ‘covers’ in the comments below.

Amy Koppelman (8)

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  • Reply Alison Brodie

    This is a excellent post.
    You recently reviewed my novel, The Double, and you said it wasn’t chick lit, it was women’s fiction.
    I was so relieved to read this – because I don’t want my novels to be classified as chick lit. I never have.
    My publishers, Hodder & Stoughton, classified my debut as chick lit. I was surprised and dismayed when they promoted it as a romcom – even though it dealt with a woman who had been so badly treated as a child she was like a cat clawing at anyone who reached out to help her – namely the hero. It dealt with the serious issue of the reintroduction of native species into the Highlands of Scotland and the theme, bascially, was how animals and humans can be so badly treated they can’t accept help when they are given it.
    Thank you, Amy, for telling me what my publishers should have told me years ago.
    Alison Brodie

    March 31, 2016 at 6:49 am
    • Reply chicklitaimee

      Thank you!! Yeah I’ve read books by big publishers that I felt were listed wrong. 🙂

      March 31, 2016 at 5:54 pm
  • Reply Eliza David

    Great post! My confusion comes because my books have 2-3 sex scenes in them (3, max), but at the core is a older woman-meets-younger man love story. In my opinion, my books aren’t kinky enough to be erotica but not cheeky enough to be chicklit, so call it Cougar Lit: romance with a kick. I’ve gotten positive reviews from both chicklit and erotica reviewers, so I just never know…

    March 31, 2016 at 5:59 pm
    • Reply chicklitaimee

      there are a few tricky to place books for sure. I’d say if you’re getting great reviews with how where it’s genre is now, then keep it as is. 🙂 who knows, cougar lit may become a genre all in it’s own. 🙂 thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      March 31, 2016 at 6:07 pm
    • Reply Alison Brodie

      Hi Eliza David,

      Cougar Lit. The birth of a new genre!


      April 1, 2016 at 2:02 pm
  • Reply Melissa A

    Great post! I love the vegan restaurant example. I get book requests where the covers are horrible fits and requests for books that are clearly not chick lit or women’s fiction.

    March 31, 2016 at 6:09 pm
    • Reply Aimee

      Thank you!! Yeah, you and I definitely have similar issues with genre misplacement in requests. Thank you for reading and commenting!!

      March 31, 2016 at 8:29 pm
  • Reply Monique

    I agree with this. I write chicklit and romantic comedies and I read both. When I look on Amazon in those sections what I see are not examples of those books – I see werewolves and half naked tattoo artists (Now that is kind of funny but not rom com funny). It makes it really hard for me as a reader to find books and that’s super annoying. As a writer it makes it hard for people to find my books also annoying. I know maybe 100 people who write in those genres and their books rarely appear on those lists…it makes me crazy!

    March 31, 2016 at 6:18 pm
    • Reply Aimee

      Me too!! I get so tired of naked people covers listed in clearly the wrong genres!! It makes me NOT want to buy or read their books.

      March 31, 2016 at 8:30 pm

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