How to Sell Your Book: Tip #1—Determine the genre.
Duh, I remember thinking back when I was writing AURELIA, it’s a young adult fantasy. On to tip #2.
Why did I think it was so obvious that Aurelia was a fantasy? Because in my head I categorize it with the following novels I love: Alanna, the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce, Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn, and Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. Strong heroine. Check. Palace/royal setting. Check. Fantasy world. Check.
I always thought of Aurelia as a fantasy. Had absolutely no doubt.
Until later when researching query letters online, I stumbled into a list of fantasy subgenres and realized that not one of the fifteen descriptions failed to include magic.
There is no magic in Aurelia.
“Why not?” you ask.
That is a whole other blog post.
So . . . concerned by this long list of fantasy subgenres that didn’t include my book, I e-mailed someone on the SCBWI discussion page and asked, “Can’t you have a fantasy without magic?” I explained the whole princess-in-a-fantasy-world thing.
“Yes,” was the reply. “A fairytale fantasy.”
Problem-solved, I thought. Moving on. And forgot about the issue.
Until the book came out. And I read—in the reviews, newspaper articles, and various synopsis—that Aurelia was a “mystery,” a “teen romance,” and “historical fiction.”
This past week, an interviewer asked me if my books are “cross-genre.” I’d never heard of that term before. (I know, you probably have, but clearly my master’s degree in education; master’s focus in ESL, ed, and Spanish; bachelor of arts degree; major in elementary ed; minor in Spanish; second teaching fields in Spanish and English; and multitude of haphazard post-graduate coursework have left me uneducated). To me, everything is a mix of genres. There are mysteries to be solved in fantasies, levels of suspense in horror novels, romance within contemporary fiction. It’s just a matter of degrees. Isn’t it?
I’ve also heard that some ideas are “too genre.”
And here, I assumed everything was a genre.
So . . . LOL. I think it’s very clear that I don’t know what a “genre” is.
Aurelia: Yes you do.
Me: Oh, do I?
Aurelia: My story is a fantasy.
Me: Well, I’m glad you’re certain. And does that go for Exile as well as Aurelia?
Aurelia: Of course.
Me: And what genre are people going to call Exile?
Aurelia: Um . . . a teen adventure historical romance?
Me: LOL! We’ll see.