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  • Writer's pictureNikki Lee Taylor

With genre comes great responsibility. How to get your book right from the very start....

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

How to choose the right genre for your book

They say when starting a book you should write what you know, and that's true - but you should also write what you love, and what you understand.

If you're just starting out and entering the planning stages of writing your masterpiece, one of the most important things you need to think about is genre.

If you're a creative, free-spirited genius you might feel like winging it will be fine because your story will organically become what it needs to be BUT the reason I advise against this is that I too thought fate and creativity would intertwine as God looked down and spoke through my keyboard but guess what..?

That didn't happen.

Here's a few reasons why it's worthwhile figuring out what genre you want to write in before you start your book...

✔ Regardless of whether you want to go down the traditional publishing route or self-publish your book, one of the first questions you need to fill in on the submission form is, you guessed it: Genre.

✔ With genre comes great responsibility. What I mean by that, is once you tick a genre box on your submission or upload form, readers, agents, and publishers will have specific expectations of what your story has to offer in terms of structure, pacing, tone, language, and dialogue.

✔ In order to adhere to those expectations - or in other words, sell your book - it helps if you can write to a genre structure... think Hero's Journey or Coming of Age... you get my drift. Readers want to enjoy their journey within the framework they are used to, and it helps a lot if you know what that structure needs to be before you start.

✔ If you choose a genre you love and are familiar with, you are already half-way there (instead of whoa oh, livin' on a prayer) because if you're winging it with a genre you don't read or watch or love, you're delivering a story to readers who do read and watch and love that genre and believe me, they'll tell you if you don't do it right. Trust me. Especially the paranormal romance and sci-fi evangelists. Do not piss them off!

✔ Knowing who the bulk of your audience is, based on genre, is going to help when it comes to creating authentic, resonating characters, with believable dialogue your readers can relate to. For example, if you write a Mills & Boon feel romance none of your readers will know what it means if your character tosses her hair and says, "like seriously WRF? OMG, she is so extra!" Mostly because they will be middle-aged or older women with no friends who speak like that and who purposely turn off when their children do - because it makes no sense to them.

✔ Most of the time that audience, your potential readers, are going to search for their next book purchase by genre - until you're a worldwide success of course and then they'll just search for your name 😉 - so for now, be in the right place when they come looking.

✔ Last but not least, whether you use a traditional publisher or self-publish you will still have to market your book, and if you don't know the genre, you won't know your audience, and if you don't know your audience, any marketing attempts will fall flat. The more specific you can be in knowing who you want to read your book - and no, it can't be everyone (Harry Potter was an exception), the better you can market to a specific readership who will buy your book, and wait credit card in hand, for the next one.

I said that was the last thing, but this is actually the last thing...

If you're not sure which genre you want to choose, try a few things before you commit the next six months to two years (at best) writing a book.

Believe me, it's better to realise it's a bust a few chapters in, than spending a year or more writing a book that just doesn't feel right and having to start over...

Trust the voice of experience...

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