When you start promoting, you have to fit your book into boxes. Not cardboard boxes, but categories and genres. It’s not something you might think about when you’re writing but believe me, you have to address this when you go to sell it.
I’ve had a terrible time trying to fit the Guardian Cats into boxes. There are categories for age groups and genres and the Guardian Cats don’t fit neatly inside containers. Just like real cats, they sort of spill out over the edges and refuse to stay put.
Then, to make matters more complicated, book sellers, book forums and the blog world all have slightly different terminology. Picking a genre to attract readers who want what you have to offer can be complicated, but it’s important. Here’s a good post on the subject: Genre is not a four letter word where author Julie Ann Dawson addresses the subject.
Properly categorizing your book’s genre doesn’t mean it won’t be found by people outside that genre. On the contrary, your book is more likely to be discovered by the people most likely to read it. …while sometimes you specifically want a horror novel, sometimes you just want something with a vampire in it and don’t care about the genre so much.
This is where keywords, tags, and a proper book blurb come in.
Put your book in the correct genre, and then use the other tools you have to provide further information to the reader as to what to expect. With our above-mentioned example, you can set keywords or tags to say “vampire,” “serial killer,” “mafia,” “crime scene investigation,” and other factual keywords to help people looking for those types of books without a firm concern for genre.
Guardian Cats would start out in the general fantasy genre but there are all sorts of subgenres, like magical realism which would be fitting for the ‘Cats’, but booksellers lump sci fi and fantasy together. Fantasy & Magic is a sub-subcategory of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Confusing, huh?
One way I thought might help me get a better handle on how to classify my book for a potential reader searching for their next purchase was to work backwards from the endgame. Amazon specifically.
To see how other books similar to mine were categorized on Amazon, I chose a couple for comparison. One was The Alchemyst, by Michael Scott, because it has a magical book of power that would be dangerous in the wrong hands. Amazon has its hierarchy of categories for The Alchemyst like this: Children’s Books > Literature > Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery & Horror > Mysteries, Espionage & Detectives. Wow. It’s amazing anyone can find it, but of course that’s only one way of finding books on Amazon.
Another book I chose was Harry Potter. Not that I am comparing my book to Harry Potter, but it would appeal to the same group of readers, I found the categories slightly different and less complicated: Children’s Books > Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror > Science Fiction, Fantasy & Magic. I noticed that one level, Literature, was missing from Harry Potter and I’m not how these categories are chosen. When I entered my book on Amazon, the choices to list my book were a little different.
Note: these genre categories don’t show up on the book page of an undiscovered book in Amazon. I don’t think they show up on the actual book page until they reach a bestseller list, but when submitting your book to Amazon you get two genre choices for search purposes.
So if they must go into box, Guardian Cats will be going into the box of Children’s Books > Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror > Science Fiction, Fantasy & Magic books.
If I’ve chosen my genre well, with a lot of work and a little luck, GUARDIAN CATS AND THE LOST BOOKS OF ALEXANDRIA will find an audience to read their story.
Writers: Have you had trouble finding the right genre for your kind of writing?
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