Thursday, August 15, 2013


Day was (and I won't name that day, lest I end up with an expiration date stamped on my forehead) that if a book featured cowboys and Indians, it was a WESTERN.

Unless said cowboy fell in love with a beautiful Indian princess, then we had a LOVE STORY.

Then a cowpoke fell for another cowpoke.

With the explosion of genres on the writing scene, perhaps the time has come for  a GENRE CZAR; someone to categorize all books, genre-wise.

But wait! We already do have that czar...sort of. Amazon wants tag words to categorize a book so those looking for your genre can find you. Great idea, but what IS your genre? And how do your readers, some of whom might not even know they'll like your book because it doesn't fit nicely into a particular genre, find you?

Take my Hetta Coffey series as an example. First in the series, Just Add Water, won the EPPIE AWARD for BEST MYSTERY.
Great! But is it really a mystery?
Okay, so there is some mystery, but the words "humorous" and "light" need to get plugged into that description, unless I want disgruntled reviewers (as one did) grousing that it isn't much of a mystery. So now we have a HUMOROUS MYSTERY, featuring a woman with an unusual career, a snarky attitude, and a lousy love life who is looking for a man in all the wrong places. In her case, countries.

So, whaddaya got?
Well, it could be:

ROMCOM (romantic comedy): Sort of...there is both romance and humor.
CHICKLIT: Fiction genre which  addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly. This according to Wikipedia. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series qualifies here. Not bad company.

But wait! Those two genres are sure to send men running in the other direction, and I want men to read my books. Those who do love Hetta Coffey's fierce independence and irreverent attitude, so I don't want to scare them off.

So, how about NAUTICAL ADVENTURE? The men are back, but their wives and gal friends are thinking: Clive Cussler. Again, not bad company, but runs the risk genre-bending the truth, although Just Add Salt, book two in the series is definitely an adventure at sea. 

So how do you warn (or entice) readers who might like the book, but don't know it yet because it doesn't fit neatly into a genre category?

Here's my shot in those seven tag words for Amazon: Mystery, humor, nautical adventure, chicklit, romcom, vampires. Okay, just kidding about the vampires.

What do you think?


Leigha Craig said...

I think that you've hit the nail on the head. It really is hard to find descriptors that appeal to both genders but I think your proposed mix is the way to go.

Carmen DeSousa said...

LOL! Vampire pirates at sea...that's a new one, I think.

I love genre bending, but do find it hard with book club sites that only offer a choice of 'romance' or 'mystery'.'s both. BUT...readers who only like romance will not like my style of romance, and readers who only like mystery will not like my mushy parts. I do suggest, especially now that Amazon has removed "readers' tags", that authors give a description of exactly what their book is in the first line of the description.

A passionate romantic-suspense of love, betrayal, and obsession that will have you falling in love and wondering if you can trust anyone right up to the last page...for example.

It has lowered the amount of 'unhappy' readers ten-fold.

Oh...and my newest novel will have a supernatural edge... Hey, I'm Indie...I write what I want. As long as you 'warn' readers, as you mentioned, I think they will be happy that they have something different, not a book that fits snugly into a genre that some exec feels fits. :)

Jinx Schwartz said...

Thanks Leigha and Carmen, for your comments. Maybe we need someone who makes a living writing up apt descriptions for Amazon?

BTW Leigha, my sister's name is Arleigh, so your name caught my eye.

Carol Crigger said...

Suspense, mystery, cozy, sweet romance ('cause there isn't much of it) western, Victorian West and, oh,yes, action/adventure?

Great post, Jinx, and a puzzle to me, too.

Vonnie said...

I agree. It's a crapshoot right now trying to categorize a book. Your best bet is to do just what you did - hit those emotive buttons that apply and trust Amazon (??) to do the rest.

Anonymous said...

Why, oh why, must we always be labeled? but it does make sense to have some sort of descriptive words so various readers can find us.
Maybe it's just the descriptions we should keep and toss out the genres! :)

musgrave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
musgrave said...

I evolved into an Adult Steampunk Mystery writer because there wasn't much competition. There were lots of YA Steampunk, but no adult books. Enjoyed the article!

Jinx Schwartz said...

I can see that genre-bending is a hot topic!