Wednesday, November 6, 2013

IWSP - Genre Confusion

IWSG—Writers, coming together on the first Wednesday of every month for a virtual pat on the back. This month I am joining the ranks of hosts.

I admit it. I am confused. Or maybe everyone else has it wrong.

I’ve posted before about YA vs Adult, how the definitions have changed over the years. Bambi, the book by Felix Salten not the Golden Rule book version, was a favorite of mine in third grade. Do you think kids read that now? I’d love to know that they do.

Other genre definitions continue to mess with my mind. Urban fantasy vs contemporary fantasy seemed clear, impossible humans living in a modern world. Then I read the definition of urban is any age as long as it is set in the city. Scott Ender wrote an excellent guest blog on the subject.

My publisher Musa’s Urania section calls it speculative fiction. This covers anything from science fiction to horror to fantasy, with all its subgenres of urban, contemporary, epic, dystopian, and supernatural.

Well now, I like that. An umbrella that covers every genre of the weird and impossible. My debut novel Wilder Mage fits perfect in that category.

Oh but wait. Amazon doesn’t have a Spec Fic section.

So my publisher put Wilder Mage in the subgenre of Horror and Occult which kinda surprised me. 

It did great though hitting #1. 

My first reviews called it urban fantasy and praised it. Other reviewers, meh, not so much. They said it wasn’t urban and called it a romance. 


So I give up. I hereby call Wilder Mage literary fiction set in a modern urban area about people who care about each other

And can’t possibly create earthquakes.

There. My genre. 

Insecure Writers Support Group: The Final Frontier.

These are the voyages of the Ninja Captain, AJC. His continuing mission, to explore all new writing venues, to seek out new authors and new blogs. 

To boldly go where no blogateer has gone before.


  1. You are so funny! Genres on Amazon never make any sense. I can never even find Horror anywhere but under "Literature" -- not under thriller/suspense or dark fantasy -- no, that would make sense. Why it can't have it's own section, I don't know. But huge congrats for making it to #1. That's wonderful! I've heard great things about your book. Wishing you more #1 spots! :-)

  2. Lol! Genre is hard for me too. I had someone read my latest WIP who asked what genre it was because she wasn't sure... Nope neither am I. I love your final genre - 'can't create earthquakes' is a great sub genre :-)

  3. HA! I'm a bit of a genre bender, too. And those broad categories are a lot easier. My current book is a 'conspiracy thriller serial' and somehow through Amazon, the only serials are 'collections' which is collapsed with anthology.

  4. Genre is such a funny thing, isn't it? We're so desperate to pigeon-hole books into a category, but they don't always mean the same thing to everybody. I think this is one area, though, where e-books and online shopping have really helped. If I want into my local bookstore, there's a science fiction section next to the fantasy section, a horror section across the story, and what I would consider urban/paranormal fantasy mixed in with fiction. If you're lucky enough to have a book on the shelf, it will be on one shelf . . . that's it. Online, with keywords and search phrases, you can have the same book on multiple shelves. It still doesn't help with the definitions, but it does provide some alternatives.

  5. And that's what makes us each so special and unique. We don't fit under anyone's label. Thank you for co-hosting today!


  6. Would it be wrong if I admitted I chuckled?
    The genre thing confuses me. And what people expect of each one.
    Thanks for being a co-host today!

  7. Genre is hard to define, and everyone seems to have different ideas! Congrats on making it to #1, anyway! :)

  8. LOL We're supposed to think outside the box, then we find we don't fit in any of them. :P

    Thanks for hosting. :)

  9. Wow making #1 is fantastic! I have to admit the genre thing is mind-boggling! New ones are cropping up all the time. It's always hard to pinpoint a novel to an exact theme. I like Literary Fiction with a short blurb, it sums everything up. Oh, well...

  10. Lol! Figuring out which genre you fit in is tough, but essential because of how books are categorized on BN, Amazon and in stores.

    Huge Congratulations on making #1! I guess your publisher picked the right genre for you.

  11. The genre thing is so confusing. I write speculative fiction as well and people always go, "What's that???" Congrats on that number one spot. Wishing you many more:) Thanks for hosting.

  12. I love your sense of humor. Why do we try to identify our genre? So readers can find us. Congratulations on your #1 spot and thanks for hosting ISWG today.

  13. A good book is a good book, regardless of where the setting is. We humans...always putting labels on everything. Congrats on #1!

  14. Think how confused those writers are who challenge themselves with each new book. LOL. Too bad there has to be specific genre lists. But I suppose that's so we don't totally confused our readers. Great post!

  15. One word about this: Awesomeness. Thanks for hosting. Happy IWSG day.

  16. Hilarious! I think we all face that genre headache. I don't have a book ready for publication, but I've been told you should know your genre before you start writing. I try and end up with a migraine and a strong desire to hide under my covers. ;) Congrats on your book hitting #1! Thanks for hosting.

  17. Wow #1. Awesome. Well done x10! :) I too know the woes of genre. I have mine up as urban fantasy / dark fantasy and I think horror is there somewhere, but spec-fic (with it's many branches to choose form) would enable a much better freedom to classify it. Yey for hosting this month! :)

  18. Thanks for hosting! Genre definitions are necessary for readers to find your book. I appreciate online books can have lots of tags to define the genre. I about fainted when my pub put my first "mystery/paramormal" into the horror genre. Say what? I'm scared of my own shadow! But now that I think about it, I never worked on this story before bedtime...LOL.

  19. @Lexa: I haven't made head nor tails of the genres from day one of my writerly career.

    @Annalis: Thx. I think thats as good a genre as Back Door, Ya with a twist of Horror and Coming of Age Thriller.

    @Hart: A genre bender...Exactly! I like that!

    @Bob: You are exactly right! Excellent point.

    @Elsie: Having a blast! Thx for letting he host.

    @Alex: Ditto what I said to Elsie. Having a blast. Regarding confusion and humor, can't have one without other in my household.

    @Emma: Thx, Emma. If you ever figure out genre delusions, let me in on the secret :)

    @Cathrina: Even tho I didn't think of Wilder as horror, evidently my publisher did. With it hitting #1, ah no, I'm not going to second guess them.

    @Isis: They most definitely did pick the right genre. Another author told me Wilder has elements of Horror in it.

    @Quanie: Love hosting! We need to wear Spec Fic on a name tag I reckon. Get ppl used to it.

    @Diane: Thank you, thank you. Humor is what gets us writers through the process I think.

    @Joylene: Confusion seems to follow me wherever I go.

    @Molly: Having a fantastic IWSG day. Thx!

    @MR: You said it! Add chocolate and I am set.

    @Shah: IF I had to choose, I'd say Wilder is urban

  20. I don't like to get hung up on labels so much. I don't read a book because of what a publishers has called it and I don't NOT read a book for the same reason.
    I read the blurb.
    If it intrigues me...I'm in.
    Best of luck with your book.

  21. I've come across that too, when someone asks me the genre of whatever novel it is I'm talking about. I've learned what to say to avoid having to explain, but it does make me wonder if I've chosen the right genre sometimes. I agree with Heather. I read the blurb. If I like it, I go with it. Usually works, which is why I've learned to narrow down what I say, women's fiction, mystery, ghost story, etc. Thanks for hosting this month!

  22. Horror? What in the world are they thinking? *shakes head* Perhaps we should all be able to make up our own labels for our stories. It would be kind of fun to see what authors think their books are, don't you think? However, since that might make it impossible to search for books I want to read, we should petition Amazon to add the spec fic category. :)

  23. Nice to meet you C.D.
    Ugh. Labels! This is an area that I don't understand. What have I written? Why isn't it adult, or why isn't young adult? Does it matter? It's a hell of a read.

    So there. I can so relate to you. However, I self pub-bed and am still waiting for readers to find me. It seems that many look to see if there is a publisher before buying.

  24. Darned genres. They are so limiting! Can't a book be marketed separately as several genres? Congratulations on your success! :-)

  25. i say na urban fantasy or na paranormal
    its magic in the city!!
    you can even drop the na
    its great, ehatever you call it! (i know the feeling!)

  26. We've been talking Genres in my writing group. I think speculative fiction is appropriate, but it's an umbrella term. From reading the blurb, horror seems a strange place to put it. Contemporary Fantasy or even Paranormal (if you include any other supernatural beings) might have been a better fit.

    Genres are just marketing tools. It seems like you're reviews are good, so I don't think the genre slotting is hurting too much.

  27. I've never published a book myself, so perhaps that's why I don't put any thought into how my writing is labeled. Will it matter one day when I'm looking for a following reader? Perhaps. But even then, I figure like you: let them categorize it. It's my job to write it, that's all.
    You wrote it. That was your job. Let the marketers decide how to best categorize it.

  28. I like the idea of creating your own genre.

    I have a few projects I don't know exactly how to categorize, but as I'm not at the publishing point yet, but doesn't matter much for me.

  29. Just as confused as you about definitions of genres, especially the newer ones. My boys were trying to explain sci-fi vs. fantasy to me! Whatever the def, write the stories you feel connected to. Glad to meet you on the IWSG journey!

  30. @JQ: Oh excellent. We are definitely i the same boat, genre-wise.

    @Heather: I wasn't too worried about genres until a reviewer said Wilder wasn't in the right genre and critiqued it badly. I certainly noticed *that*.

    @Lisa: Love hosting! I do wish the labeling would stop at Spec Fic also.

    @Charity: I know! Who woulda thunk it. But it is working so *shrug*.

    @NR: I don't look for self-pub vs traditional before I buy. Basic genre is first on my list then the blurb.

    @Linda: Wilder ws in Sci-Fi for a while. Does that count? Yikes!

    @Tara: love NA. I definitely agre. But then there would be someone wondering if that meant "not available" rather than New Adult. *headdesk*

    @Gina: Contemporary Fantasy works for me as well. It covers everything from urban to paranormal I think.

    @Beverly: Hence categorizing Wilder as Horror. Too weird.

    @MJ: Since I read and enjoy urban (Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs), I always slotted my novels in with theirs.

  31. *hehehe* I love your 'literary fiction' shelf the most. It does get confusing and just when I think I've figured it all out, something different sneaks it's way in. I wonder if every day readers get headaches from it too. Congrats to #1!

  32. I agree it is all so confusing. I write nonfiction and it now has a growing list of sub genre's.
    Congratulations on hitting #1 that is amazing. I am still trying to get past #4 but extremely happy there too:)
    Thank you so much for co hosting!

  33. @Mary: It's been one heckuva journey too!

    @Jai: Thx! Now if only I knew what genre Bangian was.

    @T: Sneaky little devils aren't they?

    @Doreen: #4 is FanFreakinTastic!! Good for you!!

  34. I have the same problem in my writing to. I tried for a while to stick with urban fantasy but it all depends on who you're talking to. I wrote a piece a long while ago titled "When did fiction become so speculative?" In it I mentioned how all the different genres seemed to fit under that umbrella, but that it's not very helpful. Seems to me like your publisher did some great marketing and found your audience despite not being clear about the genre. I hope your publications continue to reach just as well as that one.

  35. Wow, that's so frustrating. Why does all fiction have to fit into little boxes? Certainly it's for stores, not readers. I write a lot of weird cross genre stuff, too, so I feel your pain.

  36. I went through the same thing with my second book. I had no idea what genre to place it in outside of YA. Eventually, I came across Speculative Fiction, and discovered, like you, that Amazon doesn't have a category. They can't make it easy????

  37. LOVE it! LOL Let me know when Amazon adds " literary fiction set in a modern urban area about people who care about each other" to their category system! (Heck, I'll sign the petition. :)

    Seriously, these genre conventions can be totally confusing. My work fits urban fantasy to a T--except for the "urban" part. So I jokingly call it "rural fantasy". What are we supposed to do?

  38. I like that you defined your own genre. Sometimes books can belong to more than one genre, and I think that's totally cool. Congratulations on being published!

  39. Hi CD! This is a great post. I haven't published anything yet, but I suppose this is something I should start looking into NOW. Oyy! Thank you for co-hosting this month's meeting of the IWSG. It is appreciated by us all. Lily

  40. Genre is such a tough thing to point out though.

  41. Hahaha! Yeah, the problem with genre (well, one of many) is that each place defines each thing a different way. One bookstore has this category, another doesn't. Amazon has this, but not that. It's a bit of a joke.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  42. Hi Huntress. Sorry I'm so late in getting here to your place!
    When it comes to genre, I'm just as confused... but at the end of it all, a good story is a good story, irrespective of genre. Maybe we need to focus on that aspect more.
    I also think that cross-genre stories are increasing in popularity. This means that the lines between genres are becoming more and more blurred...
    I wonder what the genre debate will look like a few decades from now?? Interesting thought...
    Thanks for co-hosting IWSG.
    Writer In Transit

  43. LOL I know that feeling! I wrote this fantasy, and I didn't know what subgenre to tag onto it, so I didn't try. One of my betas called it a fairytale (insert screeching tires sound), threw me for a loop. Another mentioned that it has steampunk qualities, which I never noticed (which is sad lol) but it does. So when it finally does get published, I can't wait to see what others categorize it as. lol

    Thanks so much for your words of encouragement on my post, and thanks for co-hosting. <3

  44. First off, thanks for co-hosting IWSG :)

    The whole sub genre thing is baffling. I for one LOVE the umbrella term Speculative Fiction. That does more to describe what I write than horror or dark fantasy ever could. I suppose this is just another one of those evolutions we writers must take in the ever changing weather of publishing.

    Great post,

  45. Thanks for co-hosting! So confusing, these sub-genres. I consider some of my books to be paranormal, but not vampire and weir wolf stuff. Mine sometimes have ghosts and other psychic happenings.Paranormal seems to mean shape shifters and things other than what my books actually feature. So what could they be? Puzzling.

  46. Most of the time, I wouldn't think it made much difference what you genre you called a book. But now, with so many books being bought online, I guess it's all about being able to find them through tags.
    Thanks for co-hosting IWSG.

  47. Why can't we just create our own genres? Right, bookstores. But they're a dying breed, right? We might as well create new cyber sections...

  48. Call it whatever you like. I write high fantasy, but some reviews call it paranormal. If that means I can market to to paranormal fans, great.

    Incidentally, Amazon doesn't have a speculative fiction genre, but it does have science fiction and fantasy - SFF is the old school label for speculative fiction. Science fiction and fantasy are the primary genres in speculative fiction, with all the other stuff, urban fantasy, paranormal, high fantasy, epic fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, low fantasy, sword and sorcery, hard SF, space opera etc. sitting within one or the other of those genres (or sometimes both). Horror is sometimes included in speculative fiction, but ONLY where it contains some speculative element.

  49. Interesting. You'd think that Amazon would have specific genre sections if they've created a publishing house of their own ... unless they're trying to reinvent the whole wagon. Either way, way to make it to #1! :)

  50. Thank you so much for reading my post and commenting.
    It's clear that you know a lot about publishing and genres; something that I am not going to even think about until I have finished writing my novel.
    All the best to you.

  51. Hello fellow co-host! Sorry I'm so late!!!! Impossible month...
    I don't understand all the new to me genre distinctions very well either. My WIP is a sci-fi/thriller according to the kind advice of a bunch of IWSG-ers who helped me after reading the blurb. But that may change, because the back story is getting bigger and there was a romance that is now affecting the MC's current conflict...and yeah, who knows what it will be when done. Total pantser here.
    Congrats on the #1!
    Tina @ Life is Good


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