What Is Your Genre? by Deanna Jackson

Fairy Tales and MysteryLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Deanna Jackson as she shares with us “What Is Your Genre?” Enjoy!


I participated in Pitch Madness last year on twitter and while preparing I realized I had no idea what genre my book was. Before you begin they give you a list of what genre to put at the end of your tweet so that agents and editors can see if they would even represent your book. There were so many to choose from so I did some research on each of them.

I started with the ones that I would have to choose from with Pitch Madness and it became pretty clear to me that my book could fall under a few of the genres. First and foremost, I figured that my novel was a romance due to the love story being the main focus. However, when reading the description of what would be considered a New Adult or Woman’s Fiction, my book fit those too. I was instantly concerned that there was no way I would ever be published if I couldn’t decide what my genre was and my target reader. That was the beginning of my genre struggle.

After days of research I finally decided I was sticking to the romance genre. I felt my book was a better fit there and targeted readers who liked a good love story. New Adult and Woman’s Fiction can offer romance but can also be about the protagonist between the age of 18-30 starting college, a new career or an emotional journey and never touch on falling in love. Readers who wanted no romance would definitely not be interested in my novel.

I settled on one of the major genres and then came an even trickier part. Pitch Madness also offered sub genres for romance novels to set them apart. I was torn between contemporary romance and erotic romance since my book did offer some graphic spice. Contemporary Romance Fiction is after World War II and is written to reflect the way of life in the year you are writing about. Erotic Romance Fiction is described as strong sexual content but usually has a plot that may fit into another subgenre. I decided my book was both but unfortunately I could only chose one for Pitch Madness. I wanted to make sure that agents and editors knew my book had sexual content due to some of them don’t represent novels with those elements. Ultimately, I chose to go with Erotic Romance Fiction.

I continue to research genres since new ones are popping up all the time. Sometimes I read a new definition someone has written and wonder if I made the right decision with choosing erotic romance for my novel. I remind myself that the elements that make a story erotic my novel offers so it makes sense but again I still struggle with it.

With all the time spent reading about genres, I noticed that most books have multiple genres and I think that is expected. Some books I have read are a cross between Woman’s Fiction and Mystery while others are romance novels with Science Fiction. My main deciding factor was my target audience. I knew if a reader doesn’t like romance where the characters have a strong sexual relationship then they wouldn’t like my book.

My advice is consider your target audience and go with that first. If your book is under Contemporary Romance but the protagonist falls in love with a FBI agent while on a hunt for a killer, you may want to re think your genre. While the book falls under Contemporary Romance, it could be more suited for Romantic Suspense just in case readers don’t necessarily like stories about FBI agents or killers.

Identifying my target audience helped me determine which genre my novel fell into and I hope it does the same for you!



Deanna JacksonI am an unpublished author working on my first romance novel. I have taken classes in creative writing and editing at the University of Cincinnati. When I am not writing, I enjoy snuggling on the couch with my husband and three fur puppies.

Blog site: http://blog-djackson.weebly.com/

Twitter: @Jackdeanna

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