Hi. Here’s a question that will hopefully not be too troublesome. When marketing a book do you or the publisher or bookseller decide if the book is a mystery, or romance or science fiction or fantasy?Mary
Reason I ask is that frequently I am in a bookstore or library, I find a book in the romance section and discover that it is much more mystery than romance. Or find a mystery or science fiction in the general fiction section. Why?? Is a bookstore worker or librarian reading a title or blurb and deciding from that what type of story it is??
Genre is a marketing tool. It categorizes books to make them easier to find for readers. We’ve all seen labels on the store and library book shelves: mystery, Science Fiction, Romance…
But who actually assigns genre? Who decides which book goes on what shelf? We’ve
rudely annoyed interviewed a few industry professionals for you in an effort to find out how this mysterious process occurs.
Nancy Yost Literary Agency
Sarah’s been with NYLA since 2011.
She is specifically interested in representing all varieties of Romance, Women’s Fiction, Mysteries, Thrillers, Fantasy, Science Fiction, and select Non-Fiction. For romance she is interested in the following genres: Contemporary, Historical, Western, Sports, Regency, Inspirational, Category, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Suspense, and any combination thereof. For women’s fiction Sarah is drawn to layered stories that don’t shy away from the realities, and often difficulties, of life. She particularly enjoys women’s fiction that has cross generational plotlines, and as always meaningful pet characters are a plus along with happy endings. For non-fiction projects she would love to see anything involving animals, specifically inspirational equine stories, and she also is an avid sports fan and would love to see more athletic narratives in her queries.
Main attractions in romance submissions are: strong romantic relationships (chemistry is a MUST). Voice should be intelligent and unique. Plots should be well thought-out and original with touches of humor and whimsy. Sarah cherishes her rural southern roots and particularly enjoys stories with a supporting cast of animal characters: horses, dogs, cats; essentially all pets furry and friendly.
PLEASE NOTE: Sarah does not represent Poetry, Horror, Middle Grade, or Children’s books. And she is no longer looking to take on any new YA projects. Thank you!
The mileage on this answer will vary so take with a grain of salt that the genre categories for a book can fluctuate throughout a book’s lifecycle. (Most of the time you think it wouldn’t, but it’s possible that it could. And I’ll outline the ways in which some of those fluctuations/variations happen.) Sometimes those changes come because a different sector of the market is selling better and if the book has some overlap it’d be best positioned to sell more copies there so either agent, editor, publisher, or sales department will highlight a specific genre tag, or change the order of priority of those tags.
Another possibility is that an editor at a Fantasy/SciFi imprint acquired a title vs. a Romance imprint/publisher, and so their team knows how to market into a specific market better than the other (even if it has elements of both SciFi/Fantasy & Romance) so it gets skewed in the market that way. However, other times it could purely be that bookstores and librarians have agency choose to shelve a particular book or format based on cover / packaging or even an author’s own backlist in a particular area of their store/library.
Let’s take a general romance and see how many categories it could possibly hit depending on a few story elements. But first, to get there let’s define a romance. I’m going to define in my terms/vocabulary, but it’s pretty general. Here we go!
For a romance to be a romance, in my professional opinion, you have to have the following items: a meet-cute (where the love interests meet or re-meet), you have the acquisition phase where the individuals are getting acquainted (or re-acquainted), you have the unification phase (where we think that they can be a couple and that an HEA/HFN is possible), then the break-up (alas, books need conflict and the leads usually make me cry because they are literally breaking my heart), then the grovel (on one or all sides), which is shortly followed by the reunification phase (yay problem(s) solved! LOVE will win!), and at the end of the book we get the Happily Ever After or Happily For Now.
If a book hits those 6 emotional phases, I classify it as a romance. However, if a book is set in space and on ships, I’ll think SciFi romance (and I can go to different sets of editors and imprints because of this element), set in the contemporary/everyday life space it might be contemporary romance, or it might go into Romantic Comedy if it’s kinda funny, or if it has some deeper emotional story arc elements for a main character who is a female it might go into Women’s Fiction, same with fantasy elements, or historical elements etc. etc. this is all done to add some more specific genre tags and help readers find books. This can change per bookstore / library, it could be determined by the publisher’s sales team if this book is published with a traditional publisher, or as mentioned above by an agent on their initial pitch, or by the editor once a book is acquired.
However most independent stores and libraries control where they choose to put books on shelves, be that specific genre sections of a store or on front tables or special displays. (Not going into co-op placement!! LOL)
Where things get complicated is determined a lot by what’s selling in the market place, and what format it’s selling in mostly on the print side of things. (Ebooks are great and important.) But later on in the question it does mention in a bookstore or library finding a book in a different section. (This is key!) The print sales and the market for various types of books can often determine and shift how a book is categorized. And we as industry professionals want to pay attention to the books and genres that are selling as readers of that genre are coming into stores to buy more books, and if we can get our books in front of those readers, we will (hopefully not fully contradict what’s between the covers) but try and get our books as close to where the readers are as possible.
Editorial Director, Avon Books
Erika Tsang has just celebrated her 19th year with Avon. Her authors include Beverly Jenkins, Alyssa Cole, Thien Kim-Lam, Jeaniene Frost, Jennifer Estep, and Ilona Andrews.
She loves romance, her auto-buy author is Nora Roberts, and she believes that the readers are drawn to romance because of the HEA (happily ever after). “Reading a story that makes you happy and believe in love and the goodness of people, that’s my happy place.”
Usually genre is determined in consultation with marketing. If we think something will have a better chance selling in as one genre versus another, we go with the one that gets us the stronger numbers. And trends also play a role; if we see that mysteries are trending down and a book would be better received by booksellers if it was a romance, we’d go with romance. But that wouldn’t stop us from advertising with both genres in mind. And this would only happen for titles that actually do cross over into other genres. I wouldn’t say something is a romance if it clearly isn’t.
Ace l Roc l Berkley Publishing Group
Penguin Random House
Anne Sowards is an executive editor at Penguin Random House, where she primarily acquires and edits fantasy, science fiction, and romance for the Ace and Berkley imprints. Some of the terrific authors she works with include Ilona Andrews, Anne Bishop, Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Jack Campbell, Zen Cho, Grace Draven, Kim Harrison, Laura Sebastian, and Sharon Shinn.
Her favorite subgenres run the gamut from epic fantasy to military science fiction to contemporary RomComs, including urban fantasy, romantic fantasy, space opera, dark fantasy, and sweet contemporary romance.
“I am looking for fantasy and science fiction with characters I care about and a story I can’t put down. I’d love something with a distinct voice and a high concept, something that can attract mainstream readers as well as genre readers (like THE MARTIAN or GAME OF THRONES). On the romance side I’m particularly looking for romance and RomComs (both historical and contemporary) with just a sprinkling of magic featuring characters of diverse backgrounds. But I’m very open—I may not know what I want until I read it and fall in love with it.”
Agents are definitely the first to determine a genre, since what category they put a manuscript in will inform who they decide to submit to. Sometimes an agent could see a project fitting into more than one category, and that’s when things get interesting. I see this a lot with YA and with romantic fantasy / fantasy romance, where an agent will submit a project they think could go either way to both adult and YA editors, or to both romance and fantasy editors, and then see who’s interested. From an agent’s point of view this increases the number of potential bidders for a project
At that point, the acquiring editor and publisher will determine where the book best fits on their list. (We also discuss with the author and the agent—if the author sees their book as a fantasy and we see it as a romance, we may not be the right publishing partner for them.)
With YA vs. adult, I usually look at age of protagonist and the themes—if the protagonist is 16 but is working and has an independent life (say, for example, as a servant in a castle in a medieval fantasy world) that might work better for the adult market than if that same 16 year old protagonist is fighting for independence from their parental figures (like they’re being trained to run the family tavern but want to run away from home and become a minstrel).
Similarly with romance vs. fantasy, you look at how dominant the romance is in the story. If you take out the romance and the book then falls apart plot-wise, that’s a sign it should probably be published as a romance. But if the romance is a small plot thread in comparison to the overall story it could be better off in fantasy—if something is published as romance but the love story is only a subplot, readers will be irritated.
It’s rare to find a writer like Grace Draven, who writes rich fantasy novels with an equally strong and emotionally resonant romance. We do publish her as fantasy in spite of the powerful romance because the convention for romance novels is for the relationship to be the largest part of the plot and with Grace it’s more like 50% fantasy / 50% romance.
There can be market considerations as well—for a long time horror was really tough as a category so books with horrific elements might be categorized as “dark fantasy”; that’s changing now so you could see more books classified as “horror” these days.
So ultimately on the editorial side, deciding how to categorize a book is about being aware of reader expectations and determining which readers would be most likely to positively respond to the story.
Senior Director of Publicity and Brand Marketing
Pam Jaffee has been a publicist since 1994, a book publicist since 1997, and began integrated marketing for books in 2000 with Harper Collins, where she held the same position.
She is passionate about books, and developing author careers. In the evolving marketplace, discovery is crucial — how can you make book campaigns pop, spur sales, and create author brand advocates? She specializes in integrated marketing campaigns that mix traditional publicity with social media and marketing/promotion, with the goal of making her authors — and their books – household names.
There is no crystal ball. At the beginning and end of the day, authors are closer to emergent trends than we (in the publishing trade) are. Your readers talk to you, tell you what they love, what they want more of, what resonates. And many authors write directly to the heart of that.
Positioning a book: My favorite moments are in the company-wide meetings: launch, sales conference, when all of us, across every publishing division, first learn about the books, then have read the books, and then, we start really TALKING about the books.
Oh wait, this isn’t a rom-com. Why are we calling it a rom-com?
Hey, spicy paranormals are on the rise – does this fit into that category?
Mark my word, Regencies are going to HOT next year.
This is a Marvel-inspired historical? Whaaaat?
In these moments, we start playing with BISACs (book publishing subject codes), and discuss how to best characterize the book to appeal to readers, promote discovery and spark reading. The genre/subgenre of a book is truly born from the author’s imagination, but in these intersectional moments of metadata and marketing mixology, the authors’ publishing partners formulate (content + reading trends) = strongest book positioning.
Blue Willow Bookshop
14532 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77079
“Our team works so hard, and we have so much fun together. You know them—they fill your orders, share your lives, and are a shoulder to cry on. And you can always count on them for a wonderful book recommendation. I think that’s what makes us West Houston’s favorite bookshop: We truly want to share our love of books with you, whether you live across the street, inside the loop, or in Tennessee. Or even Italy for that matter.”
We only use the category of fiction. We are a small shop. Years ago, we separated mysteries and “light” fiction but found that people did not really shop there. Once we combined everything, we sold more of all genres. We alphabetize by author and handsell based on customer needs.
Valerie Koehler on behalf of Blue Willow Bookshop.
Note from HA: Blue Willow is our store for signed copies. If you get a chance, please check out their website. They carry an excellent selection of books and their blog articles are worth reading.
Anonymous/Barnes and Noble
“We do not determine the genre. We are told where the book must be placed by the corporate office.”
Anonymous BN employee, brief interview over the phone.
Note from HA: This means that the book buyers, people who purchase the books for the entirety of the BN stores, determine the genre. Unfortunately, we couldn’t reach any of them for comment.
Anonymous/Large Independent Book Store
Most of the time decisions on where to shelve books and authors are based on a combination of experience, and using the publisher catalogs as a guide. The publishers have put a lot of thought into which genre readers might want to read that book. Though with a human being involved, sometimes mistakes can be made.
Anonymous bookseller via email
Associate Librarian of General Reference Services
Orem Public Library
I’ve been a voracious reader all my life and am so grateful to have a job that allows me to read for a living.. For the past 27 years I’ve worked at the Orem Public Library (oremlibrary.org) a city library with a collection of 290,000 items, in Orem, Utah. I am currently the Associate Librarian of General Reference Services. I supervise a staff of 10 and provide Readers Advisory and reference assistance for general fiction, non fiction and young adult fiction.
Presently, my assignments include The Orem Library Book Club, collection development for genre romance and e-book training for patrons. Orem (pop. 97,000) and the neighboring city of Provo (pop 116,000) are home to Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University with a combined student body of 45,000, many of whom use our library services.
I am a member of ALA (American Library Association), ULA (Utah Library Association) and the Children’s Literature Association of Utah. I am currently an MLIS student at Valdosta State University. Additionally, I am a licensed (retired) massage therapist. I love to cook, hike, travel and spend time with my family.
Normally publishers choose how to market a book and what the genre is. Famous case is Diana Gabaldon’s book, Outlander. The publisher categorized it as a romance because that is what they thought was the best fit and would help it sell. My library has it as SF.
Bookstores and libraries, as a rule, organize their materials a little differently. Bookstores often use something called BISAC categories which is system of assigning subjects to group together. Libraries usually use a classification system which in the United States is almost always Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal. A work of fiction is given subject headings that classify it.
For example, here are the subject headings for Sweep in Peace from my library’s catalog.
Subject Term: Bed and breakfast accommodations — Fiction.
Hotelkeepers — Fiction.
Bed and breakfast accommodations — Texas — Fiction.
Magic — Fiction.
Werewolves — Fiction.
Vampires — Fiction.
Good and evil — Fiction.
Geographic Term: Texas — Fiction.
Genre: Fantasy fiction.
These terms will help folks using the catalog to identify items, such as paranormal fiction or werewolves, that they are searching for.
Ultimately the cataloger, the person who organizes the records, decides what the genre of a book will be in their organization’s catalog and that decision varies based on the individual. I have argued with our cataloger about a book belonging in romance — I lost. She put it where she felt it belonged even though I had purchased the book for romance.
And this says nothing of how items are arranged on shelves. Bookstores often group by genre for easier browsing. Some libraries group by genre some shelve alphabetically.
When in doubt, search for subjects you are looking for or chat with your librarian and ask for recommendations. Talking to people about books is the BEST part of my job.
I know there are other librarians in the BDH and they might have additional insights.
PS. Sorry about this very long answer — I am writing a paper about organization of information at the moment and I got carried away here!
Reviewer at Fantasy Book Critic
Mihir is a physician and a Masters graduate. He is an avid book collector and longtime reader of fantasy, thrillers and Indian mythology with additional interests in historical fiction and urban fantasy.
Favorite writers include Jeffrey Deaver, John Connolly, David Gemmell, , James Clemens/Rollins, Craig Schaefer, Rachel Aaron, Rob J. Hayes, Richard Nell, Ilona Andrews and many others.
Mihir is also a diehard fan of the Indian Cricket team and Chelsea Football Club. Mihir currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with his family, and is ever looking forward to discovering new authors and old books.
Mihir is the newest member of the FBC team and helps out with Reviews, Interviews and managing FBC’s Facebook page as well as the Twitter page.
Mihir can be contacted directly at Goodreads HERE.
Thank you for your email and for this very fascinating question. Honestly I’m stumped about genre a lot as nowadays in the traditional and self-publishing worlds we get stories that straddle so many genres easily.
From a reviewer perspective, I tend to go off on what the author/publisher primarily provides when we get review requests but of course I like to comment on whether the genre blurb holds true or not. It can be tricky from a reviewer’s perspective as we try to compartmentalize books but then others (reviewers and readers) might disagree.
Also there’s the question of preferences, genre blurbs tend to help in attracting reviewers to books and I’m guilty of this too. So in this we are all certainly influenced and look to the genre to get an idea. I know I’m in the rare minority among reviewers because I NEED to read the blurb before starting a book. For the life of me, I can’t go into a book blind. But most other reviewers I know tend to do the exact opposite.
I know for many readers and writers the genre label has become a kind of profanity. More of a hassle than of any help but I believe people stress about it too much. This is not from a bookseller’s or publisher’s POV as they absolutely need it to be able to classify and sell books to the right crowd.
But IMHO if people start thinking of “Genre” as akin to a direction marker, it would be less of a stressor. It’s not going to be wholly accurate but is more of a pointer towards the destination which the readers might like to head towards. Things are always confusing with certain titles such as the ones below:
- Green Bone trilogy by Fonda Lee (Is it a crime saga/secondary urban fantasy/epic fantasy?)
- Kate Daniels saga and world (UF romance/action-packed epic fantasy/dystopian fantasy thrillers?)
- First Earth saga by Craig Schaefer (Horror/dark fantasy/UF noir?)
- Otherland saga by Tad Williams (Cyberpunk SF/LitRPG fantasy?)
- Shadows Of The Dust by Alec Huston (Space creature fantasy/Secondary world fantasy Western/ Science fantasy?)
- The Books Of Babel by Josiah Bancroft (Literature fantasy/steampunk alt-history fantasy?)
- The Coldfire trilogy by C.S. Friedman (Secondary world fantasy/Dark fantasy/SF EPIC?)
- Tales From The Flat Earth by Tanith Lee (Horror/Epic fantasy with demons/mytho-fantasy?)
- The Darkstar books by Benedict Patrick (Space fantasy/Portal fantasy with dragons?)
- The Heartstrikers saga by Rachel Aaron (UF with dragons/SF fantasy with time travel/own genre?)
But the aforementioned titles tend to be the exception rather than the norm. So genre labels are still helpful to the vast majority of the readers and authors who can highlight easily what this book is going to be about and why others will want to read/buy/check it out.
I’ve given up on trying to put a genre tag on our work. We write it and let someone else – our agent, our editor – figure out where it lands.
Yes, I know that some people will view it as a sort of privilege, earned through hard work and commercial viability. An author who is just starting out must define the genre of their work to effectively query the right agent. They can’t just let someone else do it.
Our work was always difficult to classify. Kate Daniels is Urban fantasy, but also Post-Apocalyptic, possibly Dystopian, Heroic Fantasy with a good splash of Paranormal Romance. Hidden Legacy is Paranormal Romance, but also a Fantasy, with PI. Innkeeper is… Sci-Fantasy? I don’t even know where to go with the Edge and neither did the marketing department.
This is to our detriment. It’s much easier to market a book if it falls clearly into some definite subgenre category. It lets you target your audience better. I’ve been told a couple of times over the years that if we could only tone down the oddness, we’d sell better. Sadly, toning down doesn’t seem to be happening. Both of us have a switch in our heads that’s permanently stuck on weird, which is why we have living turtle temples and philosopher space chickens.
So my best advice to you, if you are an aspiring author, look at the work that’s similar to yours and see how it’s classified and who represents it. If you’re weird, own it. It might work for you.
And there you have it, more information about the genres of commercial fiction than you ever wanted to know. Our deepest thanks to all of the people who generously donated their time and expertise to answer our annoying questions.
Thank you so much for this! You’re effort is appreciated. ????
Wow, that was a lot of information, I didn’t know I needed. Thanks you for asking and thank you guys for answering!
Kristine Ahlskog says
I love “the weird” in your stories. Sometimes it means a smile or a cackle on a rough day. Otherwise, I just love the creativity!
Donna A says
That was fascinating. I rarely get too invested in genre specificity, there are some elements I prefer, such as SF&F but within those I’m fully open and even so I still read outside those genres – crime, humour, romance (all varieties even though I’m asexual), children’s, non-fiction, most anything that catches my eye will be read (not a big fan of modern literary fiction though).
However I do know some people who live for genre tags and it is helpful when you get an urge for something specific like Martian colonisation or American vampires, but still want something new to read.
Without order there is chaos. Word.????
Wow, this is super helpful. Thank you! The “business of writing” posts are really fascinating to me and it’s oddly affirming to see that others view genre assignments/designations as mostly marketing.
I also love the “business of writing” posts! I’m hoping to be an author and it makes the whole thing seem so much more accessible. Thank you for this awesome perspective salad!
(Also, I’m glad you guys didn’t tone down the weird. The weird is great.)
Olga Calderoni says
But the oddness is perfect! Honestly nobody writes like you guys, I love that I don’t know what to expect – we must protect the oddness at all costs!
Don’t tone it down! Keep the weird switch on ????
What they said. If I can tell where a book is going, I usually get bored, and may not even finish. That’s never a problem with you all.
Thank you for the hard work and the *very* interesting info.
I spend much less time in bookstores than I used to and more time on Amazon than I’d like.
I learned long ago not to look in one place for the books I like to read when I’m in B&N, for example, because the books are all over the place. (The latest has an extra section for Penguin titles that are nowhere else in the store – I never pay attention to who’s publishing the book. Gah!)
On Amazon, again the books are all over the place. I look at Romance, Mystery, and Science Fiction / Fantasy. There is a lot of duplication from one list to the other and many titles that are, to my mind at least, genre-spanning end up on a list I would not expect. I sometimes suspect Amazon of the supermarket habit of hiding things so you have to spend longer in the “store” and might buy more things.
Luckily, I like poking around looking for books. When my insomnia is at its worst, I can sooth myself wandering through Amazon’s “upcoming releases” for hours. I even find a goody every now and then…
OBTW House Andrews is not “weird” – HA is *wonderful*
Fascinating. If you are afflicted by “oddness” then I don’t want to be normal. You are my normal!
And then there’s the Amazon algorithm that recommended Tasha Tudor’s Book of Holidays as political science, and a Harry Potter offshoot History of Magic as actual history. Great for a laugh, no help when you want something to read.
Mary Ellen says
Thank you for the effort that went into sharing this information with us.
I/we truly appreciate that you two have that “switch” in your heads.
It’s interesting how my library classifies a certain author and her various pseudonyms. All her hardbound books are in the fiction section. Her paperbacks are in the romance section. There’s space for her hardbound to go in the romance section, and other authors have their hardbound mixed with their paperbacks in the romance section ????♀️ so, mystery.
Makes looking for her writing an exercise. Given that she has five pen names in the catalog, finding the books can be a challenge.
In case your wondering, Stephanie James/Amanda Glass/Amanda Quick/ Jayne Castle/ Jayne Ann Krentz. House Andrews always ends up in the Science Fiction/ Fantasy section.
That thought came to mind for me as well, Ms Krentz is all over the place at my library. My library classifies even some of the same series under different genres. I’ve learned all the spots to go check for her work.
As for HA, its under Romance as well as SciFi/Fantasy.
Great post! Please never stop the weird or the off-beat humor. Gore for the sake of gore is a turnoff, as are purely gratuitous sex scenes. But, sometimes life (and death) IS messy and many relationships are NOT platonic. The reason all your series work so well for me is because the consequences for the set of story circumstances have been thought out and and woven into the stories.
As a non-author, I found this post to be very interesting and informative. Thank you and thanks to the contributors for taking the time to provide an answer to this question.
I’ve been influenced by genre terms and had previously only stuck with mysteries, thrillers, and romance (contemporary or historical only), but I’m so glad that I ventured out to urban fantasy (which is how I found you!), which led me to epic fantasy, paranormal romance, sci-fi, space fantasy, etc. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to convince ANY of my family or friends (many of whom are voracious readers) to join me in reading any type of fantasy, so I have to look to the internet to find other like-minded readers who share similar tastes in books (sigh).
This was really interesting to read, thank you!
Long live the philosopher space chickens! (Have you ever thought about a megalomaniacal manatee? 🙂 )
I love all your weirdness. Long may it flourish!
Donna A says
???? Hail our Sea Cow Saviour! Death to Propellor Boats!
I’ve often wondered about this. Thank you for the research and in-depth answers.
I love these peeks into your industry.
Thank you for giving all the perspectives to my question. And to Mihir Wanchoo, I also must read the blurb. If there is no blurb chances are I will not read it. If you can’t explain your story in a blurb then do you even know what the story is about.
This!!! I cannot read a book without reading the blurb first
+1 Field-sensitive learner. I have to read the blurb. It has nothing to do with OCD. Nothing.
One more yes to blurb! If an author cannot summarize his or her story in a handful of precise, thought through sentences, I would suspect him or her of either not caring enough about this book, or meandering through the plot in the same manner, helplessly, which is boring.
And yes to preview of first chapters too! I need to check the language – is it sharpened, honed and polished? The humor – what flavour has it and is there enough? The storytelling – is it able to set its hooks and snap its traps?
Or I would move my money to other waters.
Thank you, House Andrews, for this very informative blog.
Thanks so much for this post! It got me thinking about what kind of genre I prefer. . . And it’s whatever you write.
My brain froze for a moment at “living turtle temples” stuttering. . . I thought I had read EVERYTHING and I don’t remember that. . . Oh yeah, the Witches. . .Phew.
So, what genre is the new novella in ? 😉
Moderator R says
I love how smooth you guys are getting with the questions 😀
Wishful thinking that maybe Gordon was taking a break from Friday house cleaning chores to check the blog and answer questions. Sigh
I admire your vigilance, Mod R.
I’m really in a reading slump although now I’m interested in Grace Draven. My library doesn’t carry her despite my recommendations to do so and I am loathe to buy blind. Can the BDH recommend one of her books as a sample?
Moderator R says
Personally, it would have to be Radiance, the first in her Wraith Kings series ????.
I’ve reread it so many times, it’s an arranged political marriage trope with a bride and groom who see eachother as physically monstrous but develop their love and friendship and end up being beautiful.
I’m a sucker for couples who establish themselves as a team first and get swept up by passion later, what can I say ????.
+1, to both the ebook & audiobook versions
Patricia Schlorke says
I agree with Radiance. Master of Crows is another one to read.
I loved it when the bride called her groom a dead eel, and he calls her a hag. That’s just the start. ????
Oh yeah…beware of heaving pies and roasted potatoes. ????????????????????
Thanks y’all! I bought Radiance. Hopefully it will tide me over until the “Novella.”
Lynn Thompson says
Thank you, Ilona Andrews for the thought provoking post.
Here’s a story for you. One of my nieces was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome as a young child. Genre categories mean nothing to her still. As a child and now as an adult, she reads books that have what she perceives as pretty covers. Romance, fantasy, sci fi, history.. all are just words to her.
She reads Ilona Andrews because her aunts all read Ilona Andrews and the books were available. She reads regency and Harlequin romances and Christine Feehan (Dark series / in death series ) for same reason. She reads Civil War history books for same reason but that happens to be her grandfathers passion not aunts. Zebras and dogs were a childhood fixation. In other words she has eclectic reading habits that do not fit any genre. We just give her gift cards for Christmas.
Her movie reviews are different too. Walks to a different drummer thing.
Thank you for the hard work you have gone to to give some clarity to BDH which genre Ilona Andrews books fall into.
Donna A says
I have Asperger’s, I will read whatever catches my fancy and am called well read by many people (not intentionally, just accidentally ????). I’m not bothered by the cover inasmuch as some are truly horrendous but then when I began reading in the early 80’s there were some awful covers to be ignored.
Does she use a kindle? Even though I have over 1000 physical books I have fully embraced them. One plus is you don’t have to see the covers if you don’t want to. Another is if she is more reliant on recommendations then your family could send books straight to her kindle as well. My middle brother will often get me to send him books I think he’ll like. Wish my family would give me gift cards. I once got given the same book three years in a row ????
trailing wife says
Donna A, ask your gift givers to include a gift receipt so you can exchange their perfectly chosen book that you know you really, really love because you already have a copy — that way you’ll be able to get the next one in the series, or something you hope to love just as much.
Gift receipts don’t show the amount spent on their face, but will let you exchange for that amount where it was purchased.
Wishing you even more happy reading, from the mom and foster mom of two Aspies. 🙂
I’m glad Diana Gabaldon was mentioned, I always think of her books as romance because if you take the romance out the books would not work. But, I can certainly see how it ends up as fantasy. Another one I used to wonder about when I was young, was Anne Rice. She always ended up in horror (because this was before UF was really a thing) because of the vampires but there was never anything scary about her work.
I do think libraries, specifically, should just put all fiction in one place and not sub divide. But, now that card catalogues are all online, it doesn’t matter too much except when I’m just browsing the stacks.
lovely write up, thank you Ilona and Gordon. Great work and I appreciate all you do for fans and aspiring writers.
Michal Glines says
Thank Heavens for living turtle temples and philosopher space chickens!! Fly that flag, ’cause I know who’s books are first on my shopping list, and it’s not Nora Roberts!
(No shade on NR, it’s just I have enough ordinary real life in my real life, I want exceptionally better/higher highs/wierder weirds than real life in my fantasy worlds! I know who butters my bread! Thank you very much!)
And the BDH prays everyday that the switch in your brains remains stuck as it is! Embrace the weird <3
Danielle Chapman says
This is fascinating!!!! Thank you guys for putting this all together for us.
I know when I first ‘found’ Kate Daniels it was under the Paranormal Romance genre. That is one of the reasons I picked it up (the other reason is that I saw Jeaniene Frost had recommended your books somewhere).
Thank you for putting this all together for us.
Wow, to both the authors and all the interviewees, thanks for putting in so much time! very informative read.
Weird for the WIN!
Well, in my opinion, Innkeeper is clearly a Science Fiction Magical Mystery Fantasy Romance… or just typical House Andrews. You define your own genre.
It also defined the self-image of the BDH.
Thank you for answering this! Fascinating read. I do know that as a reader, I’ve sorta taken to finding books that have a 2-3 labels to get a feel for the story type. And if they hit on the same mix as most of House Andrews’ “weirdness” then those I for sure pick up.
I miss bookstores, for this very reason…last 3 years having harder time finding books that intrigue me. Now it’s on line, so go with authors I like or love, get those. Hours go by searching for something new and not getting the read me vibe, pout and reread what I have…luckily have decades of a book a day habit to reread. Genre, was only a starting point for me, in stores, on line I find it annoying. Books I love the most are the weird, especially if yours is considered that. Does explain why I’m having a harder time, recommendations from you and your readers I won’t have found many of the newer authors I now read.
Love your work if that didn’t come through
Oh agree. When the library shut down during lockdown, I had to stick with known authors when requesting books because I need to browse through part of a book before I decide to read from a new author. I was attempting other people’s recommendations and found very few to my taste.
I mainly stuck to known authors because I had to trust how the book would progress and end up. Since we didn’t know how real life was going to end up, I needed fiction to be reliable.
Mar Ovalles says
As a reader of all genres and a librarian, this has been funny and informative, and I can relate – the cataloger as the final say 🙂
Thanks for an interesting read – I just love browsing bookstores and shelves of libraries, and I really miss all the independent booksellers/bookstores that disappeared in the last few years. They tend to have a better sense of books and readers then the big box stores and the online behemoths. There are still a few independent bookstores and I try to support them as much as I can; when I visit a city or a town, two stops I do is a bookstore and a library.
Thank you and all the people who answered you for this.
Laura KC says
That was really interesting to read. Thank you for reaching out, and thank you to all those who wrote back. It was also interesting to me to “meet” some of the people who are mentioned in the author’s acknowledgements. We know they do a lot of important work behind the scenes! Kudos to you!
Thank you for this info. Sending on my writer friends
Thanks for pulling this together – very interesting.
“authors are closer to emergent trends than we (in the publishing trade) are”
Pamela’s quote above reminded me of the following article, which I found fascinating. Sharing in case this crew also finds cool…
@Cori – The wrapping up of Project Cassandra sounds exactly like the kind of ‘learn from history’ humans collectively don’t do. Thanks for the link, I have now added Prof. Wertheimer and his team to my imaginary dinner wishlist. Just brilliant. And I staunchly believe art is a purpose of life and cuts to these programs are truly cuts to the sould of the world. Are we in a such a bad place that we can only afford to feed our phsyical needs? Then how does that separate us from animals? Or should we not and just accept that fate?
Wow thank you so much for doing this and to all of the contributors for their thoughts and efforts!!!
Special thanks to Mihir Wanchoo for the examples. You have opened my eyes to new authors/books that I previously skipped or missed.
Please don’t ever turn off the weird. The philosopher space chickens were an absolute highlight and have me chortling again right now!
Also thanks for all the interesting explanations on fiction genre. Having worked in a university library for three years, I remember quite a few headaches about where to shelve nonfiction books, too – so, this is about travel diaries throughout the medevial period. Do I put it in History? Medieval Literature? History of literature? History of travelling? Thankfully computerized catalogues help the reader a lot with that, but I know quite a few wonderful novels I would have missed if they had not been on display at the local bookstore.
I went into B and N to buy one of your books (second purchase) and could not find it. I asked for help and they had it in SF. Even then it was hard to find, filed under I instead of A. I suggested they put it in Romance since they had a lot of paranormal and some SF displayed there also. When I left she had moved some and was making a nice display.
Judy Schultheis says
I like my high adventure mixed with low comedy, which can come in any genre. You guys are the best at it.
Please, never turn off your weird switches! The mix of humor, relatable characters/relationships, and shiny magic powers is what I live for. ☺️
William B says
I’m just flipping impressed that you posted all this information.
Is it just me or don’t the works listed by Mr. Wanchoo sound awesome? It made me want to read ALL of them!
I find I like stuff that’s often not easy to classify, or straddle many genres – another example besides I. Andrews would be T. Kingfisher, (who created that pseudonym for the stories her regular agent/publishers wouldn’t take because it was too out there) ; or chinese novels that are a mix of high fantasy-M/M romance-LitRPG.
Thanks for the post, and for the rec’s by way of Mihir Wanchoo! (…the “Marvel-inspired historical” is also highly intriging… ????)
Fun fact. A large chunk of my always read authors are edited by Anne Sowards. As I kept reading, I could take her description of what she looks for in a book and use it as my own and be completely truthful! No wonder I like so many of her authors. Now I wish there was a way to see more of hers… 🙂
I can completely understand how the “weird” causes difficulty in the categorizing side of things but it’s part of what makes the books so fun. I feel as though they are Easter eggs to be found.
barbie doll says
I was in a large independent book store and just looking . I found some truly odd arrangements of books by category. None of the ones I had read seemed to belong in the categories they were placed in. I guess genre is in the eyes of the beholder
Keep that “weird switch” stuck, please! I love the philosopher chickens & their kin.
When I used to work in an academic library, we had fake books (wooden blocks) to indicate that a book is shelved elsewhere. So when a book was 50/50 cross-subject, the book would be on the physical shelf of subject a, and the block would be on the physical shelf of subject b. The block would have the title and author in the spine along with a LC label for the alternate subject, and when you pulled it off the shelf, there would be a note of the lc code the book was actually shelved at.
I always thought that the Edge series are my favorite because they are so way out there (hehe) and not easy to categorize!
Amy Ann says
Things have certainly gotten more complicated from when I worked in the industry years ago!
And like so many have said, Keep It Weird. One never knows what they will get from you and that’s good. We do so hate to be bored.
This is such an interesting read! I tend to prefer Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance, but there are so many ways to classify books it can be difficult to narrow down to one particular genre when attempting to describe a book. I noticed in the “Help” post from Mod R that people categorized your books differently than I did. I think this one of the reasons I create different shelves on Goodreads, so I can classify the books in my own way so when I am looking for a particular type of book to reread I can find it. To an extent I do the same thing in my Nook and Kindle libraries as well as on my physical bookshelves, although those are definitely organized by favorites first then everything else. Reading professional’s opinions on genre are an intriguing glimpse into how the books are made, so to speak. I’m really glad I don’t have to classify books for a living, I would probably drive myself bonkers trying to figure out how other people would expect them to be classified.
But I have to say, that is one of the truly wonderful things about books, the story ends up being seen through the lens of the readers’ experience.
Thanks to HA for taking the time to gather the answers and to all of you who took the time to answer. What a fascinating post!
I think the “oddness” is a big part of what makes your books so great.
I’m a retired librarian and I really wish the librarian you interviewed had not said she gets to read for a living. I’ve worked for public and school libraries in my career. And reading on the job was never allowed. Not that I ever had time to read anything except a picture book or two per shift. I spent my time working with the public, planning programs, working on collection maintenance (assessing, weeding, and adding to the collection of materials) and teaching computer and information literacy skills. In schools, I got lots of disparaging remarks from teachers about spending my day reading rather than working for a living. I did read for my job. I just did it at home on my own time, not at work. It’s discouraging to read a professional librarian undermining us in the public eye. ????
I thought that too. As a child I loved going to the library, poking through the shelves. As an adult, with an MLIS (which this librarian was still earning) I worked in a very large academic library in the geology library. Reading on the job never happened. Rocks, gems, DINOSAURS! Even as a cataloger, it was skim the contents, get a sense, and create the subject headings, or modify the copy of other institutions. To read anything was personal time. And by the time I got home a library was the last place I wanted to go. Working in one took all the fun of going to one from me.
Unlike many, I actually wish fiction was alphabetical by author or pseudonym. Browsing is more interesting when there was no telling what the next author would write. My public library was genre driven to the point I never could find the next book by the same author. Really is it mystery, sci fi, romance, fantasy? I hated having to go to different places on different floors for the same author.
Now, I live outside a small rural town and the nearest Barnes and Noble is 75 miles away. So thank goodness for ebooks, Book Bub, friends, and this blog and BDH for reccomendations for new (to me) authors.
Elizabeth Lee says
This was fascinating! Thank you going to so much trouble to find so many answers. I have almost 2k read books on my goodreads account so I’ve made genre categories so I can find things easier. It definitely makes my brain hurt sometimes.
And re: The Edge, I’ve always wondered why there isn’t a Rural Fantasy genre to offset UF. It’s where I’d put things like Alex Bledsoe’s Tufa books and it feels like The Edge would fit sort of.
I was thinking the same about rural fantasy!
Faith Hunter’s Soulwood series is another rural fantasy, maybe even arboreal fantasy, with some religious cult and horror elements thrown in. Love me some weird sci-fan books!
Charlene Harris joked that her Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire books were rural fantasy.
I think of The Edge as romance-y fantasy with elements of horror.
I don’t care what genre one of your books fits best in – I’m one of those automatic buyers. Weird is good.
Your creative, interesting, awesome ideas are not weird, they are one of the points that set your work apart from the rest of the books and one of the things that make them so great!
Your are the only authors I automatically buy every book and know I will love them because you not only have great characters and plotlines, awesome worldbuilding and excellent writing style but also these unusual ideas!
I will never have the feeling that I have read all of this somewhere before and that is so important and rare. Thank you!
I am a retired public library cataloger. Genre assignment was one of my pet peeves. I waged war in defense of sci-fi/fantasy vs. romance, mystery, etc. We had a cataloger who would not put ANYTHING in sci-fi unless it had a rocket ship on the cover. And she refused to acknowledge fantasy-paranormal.
Some people hated to “break up” an author’s titles into romance, mystery or sci-fi/fantasy. The reasoning being the patron’s would not “cross” into multiple genres.
It was part art, part science (genre assignment procedural manual) and part fandom. I miss it.
“Some people hated to “break up” an author’s titles into romance, mystery or sci-fi/fantasy. The reasoning being the patron’s would not “cross” into multiple genres.”
I think this is exactly the reason you *should* break them up. If readers get interested in an author in the reader’s preferred genre, that authors works in other genres may broaden the reader’s horizons. This is generally a good thing.
Ugh, the apostrophe in “author’s” got lost.
Love this, a great thought provoking blog entry. Thank you for pulling it together and a thank you to all the contributors. My book club does genres – we pull a new genre from the magic envelope each month and then choose our own book within that genre. So much fun! This month is my fave genre, urban fantasy. Nobody else in bookclub knew what that was! I pointed them all to House Andrews and the KD world.
Thank you for the effort in collating this really insightful set of answers! As others have said, it was so interesting!
This is a question I didn’t even realize I had…and honestly a bit of a pain point as a reader. I have definitely used genre tags when looking to discover my next read/favorite book. Online is where I feel like it varies the most (amazon, book reviewer sites) and can get frustrating where nothing seems to fit what I’m actually looking for so I walk away and just read one of your books often!
1. Please never tone down the “weirdness”- I honestly don’t view it as weird but authenticity and unique point of view. The living turtle temple and philosopher chickens were fantastic and you know what? If someone advertised with that and some romance I would pick up the book. The Edge series is probably my least favorite if I go by my re-read habits; however- Rose’s book with the zombie opening? Pure gold. I remember reading it out loud to several friends at the time it came out.
2. Appreciate Mihir’s list of books for examples- haven’t read or heard of some of those so gives me a good place to start looking for a new read! I agree it should be more of a directional marker. I think what has been a pain point for me is I want a blend of elements romance/sci fi/UF/ high fantasy and that is harder to pick out of the crowd. How do you find the combo genre book with a little bit of “weirdness”?
3. Julie’s Outlander example was perfect- really helped me connect the overarching theme from the prior interview questions. Interesting insight on the catalog too. I haven’t been to a library since the pandemic and use the online OneDrive app now. One thing I didn’t realize I was reluctant about until just now was asking the librarian for help on finding a book for “fun”. I always have felt like asking for help to find research was more acceptable.
4. I would guessed the exact opposite on organization but appreciate Blue Willow weighing in!
5. Pamela’s bio included something about author brand advocates? Is that like training the author to advocate for themselves or something else? Also the company wide meetings sound like the best book club ever!
6. Anne’s point about using genre as a leverage point for bids really made sense to me. I also think Grace Draven’s books are slightly more fantasy 🙂 Also interesting that horror is doing better now. Not for me but that is interesting insight on trends. I would have thought people want more HEA/light happy (because I do I guess!).
7. Erika’s point that it is collaborative with marketing made sense to me and seemed to align closely with Mihir’s point that it should be viewed as accurate and directional.
8. Sara’s interview responses probably gave me the most pause to really think about before I read the full blog. I would never have thought about it changing during a book’s life cycle. For books that are kinda on the edge (as is discussed in depth in some of the other answers) what usually holds sway for the final call? Like if a book could be massaged into adult of YA when you are trying to increase bids what makes you pull the trigger: numbers? the desire to capitalize on a trend? the author?
Thank you for the great post!
Carol J Southard says
I just gotta say…I LOVE the oddness! <3 <3 <3 I have a small list of authors whose work I will buy, sight unseen. I don't care what genre it is assigned ;-), and you guys are right at the top of that list. So, philosopher space chickens? Living turtle temples? Bring 'em on; I will read them all (if the author is as good as y'all are). Thank you, thank you, and triple-thank you, for the oddness, and the characters, and the plots, and the riveting stories.
OMG- this is such an amazing post. I’ve been curious about all these people for years. Thank you!
An interesting read. Thanks! I’ve never particularly stressed over genre labels. I just read whatever sounds good and apparently my tastes are eclectic. Last weekend I binged on cozy mysteries. But over the past two years, I’ve mostly read urban fantasy with paranormal elements. And of course there needs to be a bit of romance!
No matter what I’m reading, world building needs to be consistent and characters need to grow and be interesting. For instance, I wasn’t overwhelmed by either Kate or Curran in the first book, but they were interesting and the story was so good. And the side characters and snark were so much fun. Over the series I really enjoyed watching them all grow. And the stories remained so interesting!
Who knows what genre lurks in the hearts of mankind? Ha, I thought I would get an answer; but no. Same O and Same O.
That was a fun ride about genre. From decades ago, I remember my English Literature Professor saying it was Fiction, Biography, History and a couple more. Go to the Card Catalog’s Dewey Decimal System, you can’t go wrong.
I love the weird! That’s why I love your books! More philosopher space chickens!
Johanna J says
Loved this! Thanks for all the different points of view. And, definitely keep the “weirdness” that doesn’t fit neatly into one genre. I’ll read anything you write, no matter what the genre. Sometimes stories have to be more than the labels we try to shove them into.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 😉
Linzi Day says
That was absolutely fascinating – what a lot of interesting book people you guys know.
This is fascinating!
I love how seriously you guys take research–both for the content of your books and for how you inhabit the literary world. Thank you for this.
Tone down on the oddness? How dare they!!! Please don’t ever tone down on the oddness, which as far as I’m concerned, isn’t odd at all. It’s fabulous!
That was very interesting to read those different perspectives, and was super nice of you *and the interviewees* to put your time into it!
Another librarian perspective- some branches/libraries have lost a lot of their cataloging staff and at least 50% of books are “copy cataloged” which means we share records with other libraries and copy the catalog another librarian at another system created. That means, if ONE librarian at one branch was in a hurry/made a mistake all the records for that book at libraries ALL OVER THE COUNTRY might copy that first record.
The long and short of why is budget and that most libraries have the same level of funding they had decades ago even with rising cost of living ect. My library is in the Bay Area and starting librarian pay is 60k which is 20k BELOW “middle class” for that city. And the job requires a masters degree.
I once found Robin Mckinley’s book DeerSkin in the children’s section of my local bookstore. As it has chapters that deal with incestual rape, unwanted pregnancy and miscarriage I didn’t believe it should be in that section. So I took a copy to one of the customer service reps and told them what was in it. They looked online and discovered that although their information ( as a large chain bookseller) had designated it as book for children the puiblisher had flagged it as a book for older teens and adults. The person who classified the book had merely referenced the writer’s prior works and had not bothered to read the information from the publisher. A definite case of not getting things right. In terms of genre Terry Pratchet’s novels were consistently on the best seller lists but the book stores would never place them in that section because they felt that science fiction/fantasy were only a niche item and would not appeal to a broader audience
O_O Deerskin as a children’s book – I don’t think so.
I keep trying to turn people on to Terry Pratchett, but a lot of them just don’t “get” him. This is truly their loss.
Thank you for making this post. I have a friend who has determined that she does not like “urban fantasy” and I feel like she would really enjoy your books because they aren’t strictly urban fantasy. I have shared this blog with her in the hope that she will become tempted and also a House Andrews follower.
Jo Ann says
A very interesting article. For my reading pleasure I rarely look for genre. It probably helps that I no long buy hardcover or softcover actual books in a “real” bookstore. I am an “author” driven reader.
I use to carry an extra suitcase on our travels to contain a wide selection of reading matter for myself and my husband. Our last change of location (Texas to North Carolina) necessitated selling about 1200 paperback/hardback physical “real” books. We simply didn’t have room in the new house. Instead I own about 1700 eBooks (LOL) mostly purchased from either Barnes & Noble or Amazon.
I became addicted to “Ilona Andrews” reading the Innkeeper series and now read most of your other series. I also purchase the audio versions (Audible.com) of my absolute favorites.
By the way: I love the “weirdness” in your stories. Keep up the good work!
Danny Lim says
The Green Bone trilogy is actually written by Fonda Lee (not Fonda Less). The third book in her trilogy (Jade Legacy) is coming out on November 30th, 2021.
Thanks a lot for that very extensive view on genre.
Do keep your switch on weird and do not tone it down at all!
I really like the mix of genre in your work and you are pretty unique as far as I am concerned.
I reckon y’all are a genre unto yourselves. And the weird/quirky/odd dimension of your work is where lots of your storytelling magic really happens. That HEA effect that makes your books such a pleasure to read and re-read.
So thank goodness those switches in your heads are stuck where they are. 🙂
Please do not tone down the oddness 😉 It is one of the things that keep your stories so very interesting, especially Innkeeper!
Wonderful informative post. Thanks!
Fantastic content! Thank you for this, House Andrews et all.
I probably read an average of 10 books per week, own at least 5,500 in my e-library, and also recommend and read a lot of public library e-books. People sometimes ask me what kind of books I like, and there’s not an easy answer. Contemporary romance/paranormal romance/rom-com/urban fantasy/sci-fi/fantasy/post-apocalyptic/mystery/romantic suspense/erotica/occasionally historical. Most everything I read could fall into at least two or three of those categories, so I hate to see authors pigeonholed. I distinctly remember, back in the days when I bought print books, looking for a Kate Daniels book in different areas of B&N and thinking that all fiction should just be shelved alphabetically by author. It’s easier now with e-books, because I ignore ‘genre’ and mostly buy by author, with suggestions for new stuff from a bunch of lists, i.e. BookBub.
” if we could only tone down the oddness” uh, no, what? I don’t think that’d make anyone sell better. Better to write what you love, even if some people think it’s “odd”. I mean, I’m currently pretty obsessed about a guy with no pants and a cat in a dungeon reality show. (Dungeon Crawler Carl, if anyone wants to know). It’s plenty weird. And awesome.
Terrie C says
“only tone down the oddness” Please never do that. Your books are perfect the way they are. FYI, the first book of yours I read, I found in the SciFi section. NowI find them in SciFi and Romance.
As for classification, when I go to the library, the new books are seperated by genre, which allowed me to look based on my mood. One day I went in and my mind went blank. Alphabetical? You are putting them all together, alphabeltically? NOOOOO. I actually talked to the librarian and asked why, why. She thought about and decided that genre was the best choice and the poor worker and to redo the section. Happy Face
Never ‘tone down the oddness’; we love the oddness. The philosopher space chickens still make me giggle whenever I think about them!
So interesting! Thank you for taking the time and effort to get these answers and thank you to those who provided answers.
Oh my gosh – please don’t “tone down the weird”! I love your works (ALL of them, I have every single thing you have ever published to my knowledge regardless of what story line/genre it is) just the way they are. Keep writing what you are doing! I can’t wait to get the next one whatever it is. Thank you!
Barbara Kay Swanson says
Wow. The time, effort and care you give to answer us is honestly humbling IMO. I learned more today than in decades of reading and even self-publishing.
My personal way to determine a read:
Get lucky and find a book that is written with clear talent, along with mastery of the usual suspects–world-building, characters, plot, etc etc.
Read another book by the same author.
If it holds true, go for it. I will usually read ANYTHING by authors that excel in their writing. HA, Patricia Briggs, Charles de Lint and Robin McKinley are the top 4, I buy everything they write. There are other authors I will buy most of what they write–maybe 7-8 others.
Outside of this, I reread. Over and over.
As a librarian, it is so neat to see how everyone breaks that down and interprets genre! Thank you for sharing!
So much good information here – I’m a reader not someone in the writing profession, so this was a fascinating peep into the business side of things. Thank you Mihir Wanchoo for authors to look into. And honestly, I’m pretty sure the weird is working out for y’all – it certainly is for your readers – please don’t stop!
I so hope you‘ll never „tone down the oddness“! Your stories and worlds defying categorization is one of the things I love so much about them. They’re just awesome in their uniqueness and added to the world‘s most awesome characters make you my all-time favorite authors 🙂
Very epic post!
Thank you HA and all the contributors to answering…
Toning down the oddness might make your books easier to find ia shop but I like the oddness and it’s the main reason why I read the books that I read so personally if a book would fall neatly into one or two categories it might deter me from reading is (or probably from reading the sequel
In short, please stay as odd / quirky / you … as you are now
Noone – at least noone of interrest – is one (or two) dimensional so pleas no onedimensional books
“No one – at least no one of interest – is one (or two) dimensional so please no one dimensional books.”
THIS!!! This is what I keep trying to tell people who complain that a character doesn’t act the way they expect, or a plot doesn’t go the way they expect, only you said it in one sentence. I need to remember that phrasing.
Miriam Gladen says
Love your weird stuck switch.
Thank you very much for the work you put into this post. It was fascinating. It was also fun to hear from people you often mention on the blog and to see what they look like.
I will admit I misread the title as *Gender* Assignment at first. I have many trans friends and thought, I wonder what brought that up. Then the real word clicked and made me laugh at myself.
Goodness am I jonesing for your next book. Thank you for all the info and all the perspectives. We may have to invent a new genre category for you. Thank you for the list of new authors for me to try. I trust your judgement.
This is fascinating!
Personally, I go through phases of genres. At the moment, I want escapism from reality so it’s sci-fi and fantasy for me. Though I did read a crime thriller recently and during a particular investigation scene, found myself thinking “Just cast a location spell or something for goodness sake!” HAHA!
Moderator R says
That’s brilliant :D! You know you’ve truly become one with the escapism hehe. Love it!
Oh gawd! Please DO NOT EVER tone it down. Your weirdness is what I’m here for. If they had any idea what they’re talking about, they’d be doing what you’re doing.
I thought that picture link was for my avatar image. LOL! So, here is a totally random photo of my dog for your viewing pleasure.
Rene O says
I am so glad you can’t tone down the weirdness. It is my favorite part of your writing.
I am so grateful the switch in your head is stuck on “weird”. I think I enjoy your books more than anyone elses (except possibly Terry Pratchett whom I deeply love). Thank you for this fascinating look into how a books genre is decided. I’ve always wondered.
This was fascinating. Thanks for going to the time and effort.
Lorrie Thompson says
Wow, this is really informative and interesting — thank you!
“Marvel-inspired historical. Whaaat?” I actually laughed out loud for many seconds.
This is one of the reasons why I’m a regular visitor of this site, because when you answer a question you always take the time and effort to give as complete an answer as you can.
Also thanks to all the people who answered your question 🙂
Stacey Lee says
This is really interesting – speaking only for myself, as a librarian who assigns subjects and locations my focus is on “where/how would our users most likely look for this title or content?” If that agrees with where the publisher went with it, cool. If not, oh well!
Fascinating – thanks so much – I love your blog.
i like the idea that genres are a directional pointer. when i look up a book on goodreads there is usually quite a list of genres that individual readers classify the book into. that list also tells how many readers put it in that genre. so you can see if most people classify it as an urban fantasy rather than just straight fantasy. it shows that while 4000 people said urban fantasy, 500 said romance, so there might be a bit of romance in there but its likely not the main focus. i can also see if 1000 people rated the book as YA or if only 50 people did, because i tend to avoid that genre now (used to like it, moved on).
i dont mind if my genres are mixed. and i’m a big fan of odd and weird. i’m happy to read everything you write and would hate for you to change that to suit publishers better. i’m glad you write the way you do.
Can I just say, as far as I’m concerned, you guys are a genre–along with a few other authors, e. g., Bujold, Laurenston/Aiken, Charlaine Harris. It’s not just about the way y’all straddle multiple genres or subgenres, it’s also determined by some quality of uniqueness. I’ve never found a true read-alike for your beautifully balanced work.
We have a genrefied fiction collection at the secondary school where I work, and while it’s useful for our students, I really hate separating some authors’ books by genre. For some readers, finding the perfect author triggers a glom-fest, and division by genre can present a barrier to younger, less experienced readers.
thanks so much