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Defining a book's genre

Posted: April 15th, 2011, 8:45 pm
by Kreann
Hello! I am in the process of editing my first fiction novel. (And from my last post on word count, I have a LOT of chopping to do!) As I go, I have also been reading up on what comes next on my path towards getting published. I am currently reading Jeff Herman's awesome book ("Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents 2011") and am stuck on the genre chapter. I can't seem to settle on a genre, and was wondering if I could get some input from the group - the last thing I want is to look wishy-washy in my query letter.

Basically, my book is a story about two best friends (young women, fresh out of college). Tragedy strikes one, and the other sets out to find what caused it and then to make things right. Throughout the book, there is the best friend element, the boyfriend element (and yes, it gets "cleanly steamy" in places), and for the second half of the book, there's a perpetual "who done it" element. The main character even goes semi-undercover to find answers to solve the "mystery", if you will.

So, I've got chic lit, I've got a little romance, I've got suspense, I've got mystery...but it all boils down to the tale of what one best friend is will to do to help the other. I'm rather obsessed with writing, now that I've gotten started, and already have at least three other story lines on the back burner for future projects. So far, each are less mystery and more chic/romance, but you never know where the stories might take me. I just hate to get pigeon-holed into a genre on my first book and then run in to a brick wall when I proceed with the next one(s).


Re: Defining a book's genre

Posted: April 15th, 2011, 8:56 pm
by Mike R
Call it chic-lit.

If you call it romance, the editors will want the romance front and center, ditto with mystery. Also, I think mysteries have a basic formula and if you didn't know what that was when you wrote it, I bet you didn't follow it.

Maybe suspenseful chic-lit.

Re: Defining a book's genre

Posted: April 15th, 2011, 11:13 pm
by dios4vida
I'd agree with Mike R. Chic-lit sounds about right for that description. You could always post a synopsis/query/first pages in the critique portion of the forum and then get better input from there if you're really concerned about it.

Also, I wouldn't worry about being pigeon-holed for your next novels. If you have common themes you shouldn't have a problem. Besides, that's most likely a long time in the future. I'd just focus on writing the stories you want to write now and worry about little things like genre classifications on future projects later.

Good luck!

Re: Defining a book's genre

Posted: April 16th, 2011, 1:20 am
by Mira
Oh, well, from what I understand, we're not supposed to call it chick-lit anymore. That's a forbidden word, for mysterious reasons that still elude me, given that I love the term "chick-lit".

Nonetheless, if you're querying, I'd probably use the current acceptable term, which I think is: "Women's fiction."

Although, your story sounds more like a mystery to me, but that's just from the few lines you wrote.

I think Nathan always asks this question, to help people decide: Where in the bookstore would your book be found? What section?

But I also remember he's said not to drive yourself crazy with this - once you have representation, your agent would help you define your genre. I hope I'm not quoting him wrong, but I'm pretty sure he said that.

Good luck finding with your writing and querying, whatever term you go with. :)

Re: Defining a book's genre

Posted: April 16th, 2011, 2:38 pm
by Down the well
Yeah, I'd go with Women's Fiction. Even though the novel has other elements, you only need to concentrate on one for purposes of querying. Best of luck with it.

Re: Defining a book's genre

Posted: April 16th, 2011, 4:06 pm
by Kreann
Thanks, everyone, I appreciate the input!

Re: Defining a book's genre

Posted: April 18th, 2011, 9:13 am
by Sommer Leigh
I ditto everything Mira said.

Re: Defining a book's genre

Posted: April 18th, 2011, 3:07 pm
by CharleeVale
Just to point it out, although I agree with Women's Fiction, this should be the last time your refer to your work as a 'Fiction Novel.' A novel is fiction.


Re: Defining a book's genre

Posted: April 19th, 2011, 9:29 pm
by Kreann
Makes sense, thanks!