Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Query Question: more on genre and category

I've completed a novel that I would describe as fitting into the genre of "women's contemporary novel", However, I think the best description for it is "book club fiction." Is it okay for me to describe my manuscript as book club fiction? For example, "One of your clients INSERT NAME suggested I contact you regarding AWESOME TITLE, my 76,000 word work of book club fiction."?

Well, since there's no genre called "women's contemporary novel" you should call it almost anything else up to and including cowgirl haiku. Book Club fiction seems as good as any.

Genre and category are often used interchangeably but they're not.

Genre generally means either (1) western, (2) crime, (3)science fiction/fantasy or (4)romance.

Categories are things that can be in any genre: erotica for example. You can have an erotic Western, and/or erotic crime.

YA is a category rather than a genre because you can have YA mysteries, YA SF/F, and YA anything else you want.

Book Club fiction is a category, but it's most often used to describe novels that are women's fiction-- character driven with plots propelled by relationships more than plots propelled by events. More of The Feelings and less of The Fisticuffs.

I think you're better off calling this women's fiction. You always want to use the designation that includes more readers rather than fewer. 


Unknown said...

If YA isn't a genre (and I agree), then why do so many agents list it as a genre they represent/don't represent?

Honestly, the YA and NA labels are giving me a lot of confusion as a romance writer when I query.

Karen McCoy said...

I'm really thankful this came up--I've heard a lot of people refer to "contemporary" YA (YA that's not SF/F, fantasy or paranormal) but I was also recently told that "contemporary" wasn't an official category.(Proving that there are continual, constant debates about this.)

YA and MG are automatically fuzzier because there's no bookstore designation to indicate what their sub-genres might be. The adult novels get distinctive sections, but YA is all lumped together, with books like Twilight, Unbreakable, and Crank all on the same shelf.

If an agent repping YA were to post somewhere what the main sub-categories were, that might help. I've looked, but haven't found anything definitive.

So until that happens, I'm happy to err on the side of a wider readership.

Lance said...

So, dinosaur fiction is a category because you can have dino erotica or a dino mystery. A mysterious asteroid wipes out all of the dinosaurs, and it's left up to a small, hairy rodent to evolve over millions of years into a civilization that can determine the asteroid was a random act of nature, not malice, so the claims can be settled.

Anonymous said...

Um, obscure, useless thoughts aside, is it me, or does anyone else have trouble with the mystery, thriller and suspense "categories."

I mean, I know what they are, but romance can have suspense, and mystery - oh and thrills galore. I get that a mystery is more about the reader not knowing, while suspense is when they follow along with the protag, knowing he/she shouldn't go in that cellar where butcher man awaits with the axe. But are they considered a genre in of themselves, or categories...considering every genre can have a splash of each..maybe I just answered my own question - except I've seen them flagged as genres.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

Thriller isn't its own genre? I'd have missed that one on final Jeopardy.


Colin Smith said...

Right or wrong, I look at the story overall and ask where the main emphasis is. For example, my current WIP is about a teenage alien who accidentally ends up in Victorian London. It's definitely YA, but is it sci-fi or historical? I'm calling it historical since most of the action takes place in 1879, and mainly utilizes the technology of that period. But it's not always an easy call, so I try not to over-think it.

Standback said...

My WIP is about a book club in the Wild West, whose founder falls in love with an alien until she is gruesomely murdered.

My question is: in what color folder would you like me to send a printed copy of my book?

P.I. Barrington said...

Thanks for the information on genre and category. I've gone through several descriptions that were too unwieldy to use and now I know why. I appreciate this very much.