Choosing a Genre and Sticking to It

Choosing a Genre and Sticking to It

by C.K. Thomas

I think some authors might agree that it’s hard to set limits when classifying our work. I’ve finally settled on Women’s Contemporary Fiction as the genre for The Arrowstar Series. However, the series’ book covers scream Western. Also, if someone asks if Arrowstar is a mystery, I tell them an element of mystery does exist, intertwined with tales about the adventurous contemporary women who people the pages.genres

Categories seem important in the world of publishing, but as authors do we need to limit ourselves to the narrow categories that guide our books onto bookshelves to be stocked with similar classifications? Maybe we’re asking ourselves the wrong question when trying to place our writing into a genre. Is the real question, “What genre are my books?” or is it “Who makes up the largest audience for my books?” In other words, “To whom am I addressing the prose I’m creating?”

For me, the answer to that question is undeniably, women. According to the website Find Me an Author, “Women’s fiction taps into the hopes, fears, dreams and even secret fantasies of women today.” Exactly! That’s precisely what I’m going for with my writing!

I’m fairly confident I’ve chosen the right genre, but I’m still sad about limiting my audience. After all, there are men out there who I’m sure would enjoy the books. Also, what about mystery lovers and fans of the Old West? Realistically, I know I’m not going to draw those audiences because they’re not in my head while I’m writing.

While I’m probably not going to create another Riders of the Purple Sage, the Western question still nags at me because the companion books in the series do reach back into the history of the West. However, the plot lines don’t remain in the past, but put a foot into the present with the introduction of themes that show how the past sometimes intrudes into the present day.

As I’ve been writing this blog post, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have chosen the right genre, and I’m planning on sticking to it. I hope this reflective journey through the classification conundrum has helped someone else temporarily lost on the road to finding the right genre.

C.K. Thomas lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Before retiring, she worked for Phoenix C.K. Thomas
Newspapers while raising three children and later as communications editor for a large United Methodist Church. The Storm Women is her fourth novel and the third in the Arrowstar series about adventurous women of the desert Southwest. Follow her blog: We-Tired and Writing Blog.

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5 Responses to Choosing a Genre and Sticking to It

  1. Marcie Brock says:

    I’ve made no secret about my feelings regarding Amazon – but another consideration is your online categorization for Amazon, specifically, but other retailers, too. It can mean the difference between a achieving bestseller status and becoming an “also ran.” — Marcie (aka Laura O)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s important that your book cover reflect your genre and what you’re writing. After all, people DO judge a book by its cover. If you’re writing Women’s Fiction but your book cover has a Western feel to it and people are asking if it’s a mystery then there seems to be some confusion. It’s never too late to update your cover! It may be taking one step back to take two steps forward.

    People should be able to look at your cover and tell exactly what type of story they’re going to be writing. For instance, people look at my Alice Hill cover and one of the first questions I always get is “Is this a dark Alice in Wonderland story?” and I get excited because they nailed it. I think this should be our goal, especially if your publisher gives you a say in your cover.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Although I agree that it is important to know your audience, I suggest that it is ok to write about other genres if an author feels compelled to do so. I read an article a few years ago where the author did not want to be locked into one genre but also worried about confusing his readers. To remedy the situation the author wrote under a different variation of his name. For one genre he used his full name and he only used his initials with his last name for the second genre. Of course using a pseudonym would have worked just as good.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ckthomas63 says:

    Thanks so much for all the feedback on this topic. It’s obviously one that is open for more discussion among authors. I’m still puzzled about the western covers for my Women’s Contemporary Fiction. I’m not sure what kind of cover would scream women’s fiction as well as my covers scream western! Maybe an artist will see our postings and suggest an alternative. I think my cover for The Storm Women along with its title comes close to solving the problem. It has a woman on horseback throwing a lasso and of course the word Women in the title. I’ll keep those two ideas in mind for future covers.


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