It sounds like a fairly simple concept, but the more you think about it, the more confusing it may become. Are you young adult? Adult? Romance, mystery, fiction? There are more to genres than just the age range you are targeting, or the main subject matter you are focusing on.
In an attempt to help you better place your book in the genre scale, I have prepared a simple tutorial.
To start out simple, the most basic breakdown of genres are fiction and non-fiction. Where it gets complicated, is all the endless subgenres that fall under each.
We will start with Non-Fiction
Non fiction is basically, what it says. Stories of fact, actual information based on real life events. Memoirs, biographies or tales of war, can all be counted as non-fiction. Under non-fiction, you will find
- narrative, which is based on fact and presented as a story
- essay, a short overview of an authors outlook or point
- biography, outlining and detailing a persons life
- autobiography is the same idea as biography, but it is written by the person directly, a tale of their own life
Now, moving on to fiction
Fiction is, as its counterpart, fairly direct. Fiction is a story created from the authors mind, and is not fact. It is an embellishment, with little or no basis is reality or actual persons.
Breaking down fiction, you may be surprised by the number of subgenres you will find
- drama, is as it suggests…created for the purpose of theatrical expression
- fantasy, is elaborate and otherworldly, with settings or characters that would not generally be considered possible
- humor focuses on that which is funny or comical
- fairy tales, about the enchanted and endless possibilities, focused for children
- science fiction takes from its name, using science in either literal or fantastical sense; these works are usually set in other worlds, planets etc
- short stories are fiction, short in length and unable to support and subplots that require length to explain
- realistic fiction is as it suggests, an untrue story that could actually happen
- horror features subjects of a frightening or terrifying nature. Either in characters, settings or plots
- mystery allows for readers to follow a plot that is focused on solving a crime
- romance has the main focus of the work being the connection and relationship between two people
- And that’s not all…other subgenres include adventure, Christian, erotica, historical, paranormal, womens fiction, western, and more!
Now, finding your place within these subjects is only the start. It is not simply knowing you have written a fictional romance story. You must also place your work within an age category, outlining to agents and publishers, as well as future readers, who the book is most suited for.
These categories are as follows:
- picture book (usually for children, but adults love these too)
- childrens (age 3-8)
- middle grade (8-12)
- young adult (12-18)
- new adult (college/university age, 18-26)
- adult (generally 25+)
If you are unsure of how to place your book within a genre and age category, try having someone impartial read it. Ask their input. Where do they feel the book fits in to these categories. Sometimes, you may have been intending to write for an adult crowd, but on future examination, your writing, dialogue and prose tends to be more new adult in nature.
Placing your work in the appropriate category of genre and age is important for any writer. By doing this, you can better reach out to readers, promote on the correct forums, and focus on your group. Additionally, literary agents and publishers require you to include in query letters where your book fits in both of these areas, to see at a glance if it is something they wish to represent.