Thursday, June 12, 2014

Question: more on categories, the bane of your existence

Question:

I've written a novel that could be marketed as new adult, but it's more importantly a murder mystery. I know that characters aged 18-25 (and dealing with college, new found freedom, and first-time budgets) are a hard sell. Should I limit my query pool by only submitting to agents who accept books categorised as new adult? Or should I call it a mystery novel and hope for the best?

That's not what New Adult is. New Adult seems to have become the R-rated version of YA. Or not. No one knows for sure and I'm seeing all sorts of stuff called New Adult that's really just not anything other than erotica with a makeover.

You should call it a murder mystery because more agents list this category on what they're looking for than list New Adult. Always put your book in the category that will appeal to the most readers.

7 comments:

Ashley Whitt said...

Can I just say, as a reader, I am very disappoint in what NA has become. I feel like it had the potential to be so much more than what it is right now.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Yes indeed, categories are the bane of my existence. Am I writing a literary novel if it has strong characters but doesn't have an ambiguous ending? And I don't want to be slotted as strictly women's fiction. And is mainstream too vague? Still sorting it all out.

Colin Smith said...

I wonder how well these categorizations work for readers, though. For example, if you walk into your local B&N, where would you expect to find Stephen King? In ours, he's under "Literature" along with Dashiell Hammett and Jane Austen. And Harry Potter? Unless there's a special table with Potter merchandise, you'll find him on the back wall in the Children's section. No matter that his stories span MG and YA.

When I go book shopping in a brick-and-mortar, I hunt under one of three categories: YA, Author Name, Book Title. All the YA books are gathered together, so if I know the title is YA, that's where I'll look. Otherwise, I'm guessing based on how I would categorize the book. And B&N and I don't always agree.

So who do these categories really serve? It seems to me, for most readers, it's more helpful to have informative customer service. (And I must say, I haven't yet stumped our local B&N staff--they can usually find what I'm looking for.) Either that, or have all the books logged in a computer system that will tell you where to find them.

Just some thoughts. :)

donnaeverhart.com said...

It's pretty interesting to read the history of genre, beginning with Greek literature. It's a long article, but here's a snippet, "Genre suffers from the same ills of any classification system. Genre is useful as long as it is remembered that it is a helpful tool, to be reassessed and scrutinized, and to weigh works on their unique merit as well as their place within the genre. It has been suggested that genres resonate with people because of the familiarity, the shorthand communication, as well as the tendency of genres to shift with public mores and to reflect the zeitgeist."

And...

"Genre should not be confused with age category, by which literature may be classified as either adult, young-adult, or children's. They also must not be confused with format, such as graphic novel or picture book. The distinctions between genres and categories are flexible and loosely defined, often with subgroups."

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

Of course, the widest possible genre net to cast is dinosaur porn ...

donnaeverhart, you are an evil temptress - and do you have any reading suggestions? :)

Denise Willson said...

Hi, Everyone.
First, I don’t believe NA is a genre. NA is an age, a target market. It is readers a little too old for YA (an age, by the way, not a genre) and a bit young to be considered old folk. That’s it. Within NA, there are still the usual suspects: mystery, erotica, thriller, romance, etc. These are genres.

Personally, I think NA has a market. There are people out there, in their 20’s (and maybe early 30’s) who are unfulfilled in the book world. They should be able to find books they can relate to. Does this mean all NA books are erotica in nature? Absolutely not. That’s like saying all MG books are about nerdy school kids and bullies. NA should (and eventually will) span the genres. It’s just that right now, NA is a new target market, and the masses have used it to tout certain genres that are currently ‘hot’ sellers in the wake of 50 Shades.

Age markets and genres are for marketing purposes only. My advice to writers: write a good book, the best book you can, and let the sales people figure out the marketing.

Denise Willson
Author of A Keeper's Truth and GOT