We’re restarting out guest post series with this article from author Claire C. Riley. There’s a lot of pressure on authors to write books that fit neatly into a genre category. That pressure extends to publishers too. Claire, though, is having none of it, as you can find out for yourself by reading her article.
Claire has just launched her debut novel, Limerence. There are two eBook editions up as prizes, winners to be picked on Sunday, 7th April. To enter all you must do is comment on this post, stating that you want to enter the giveaway draw.
For our other guest posts, click this link…
It’s a Matter of Genre by Claire C. Riley
As writers, many difficult choices have to be made when writing a story. The first, and possibly foremast, being the genre and style of your novel. Most writers tend to write in the style that they read. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule.
For me personally, I tend to read a bit of everything. Romance, horror, paranormal, sci-fi, nothing is under lock and key from my mind. So when it comes to writing I just write what comes out and I let my story take me where it needs to go. Apparently this is a fatal no no.
Books need to be pigeonholed and categorised so that they can be found in a bookstores, because unfortunately so many people do choose to only read a certain genre of book.
This is why, sadly, the big publishers turn down so many amazing novels. Because the genre the writer has chosen to write in has too many sub-genres in it to make the marketing easy. Sound silly?
Well, unfortunately it makes perfect sense — to an extent.
Should a brilliantly written book be turned down just because it can’t be easily marketed? Or should publishers be attempting to think up new marketing schemes for these books? After all, things are changing in the publishing world.
When it came to marketing my book Limerence, I chose not to let on what one of the main themes was until around a third of the way in. I figured at least that way readers would have given it a real chance, and be hooked by that point. Deceptive? Yes, a little I guess.
There is nothing in my blurb to say what ‘the surprise element is.’ I shy away from using the catchwords that would normally hook specific groups. The cover also does not give it away. (Although once you have read it, it makes sense) Yet for marketing purposes, I have found that it’s worked really well. So many people have read it now that wouldn’t have normally given it a chance and have expressed their great surprise at the secret element in it.
For instance, one female reviewer left this comment.
‘From start to finish I was hooked, and I’ve never read a ‘######’ in my life. The characters were amazing (especially Ollie) and the story beautifully written. The love triangle was definitely unique. Without giving too much of the ending away, I’ll just say I found myself screaming no!! more than once. Wonderfully done Claire, can’t wait to see what’s in store for Mia next.’
It isn’t something that she normally reads at all, I know this because I’ve seen her Goodreads shelf, but she had been advised to give it a go. She’s since told me that she’ll be trying more books in the genre now. Score one for writers!
I also had this comment from a male reader.
‘It’s not the kind of book that I would usually read, but I read it on good authority and wasn’t disappointed. The story is dark, grim, romantic, and beautiful all at the same time. The characters are bold, strong, and memorable. I’d highly recommend you read this book, as it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while and believe you won’t be disappointed.’
Score two for writers!
Another marketing choice I made, was to seek out different book bloggers, the ones that do read some of the main genre themes that run throughout the book, so that I could cover all bases, because yes, I do want everyone to read it, and I do need my specific audience to read it also.
So, my point is this, as a writer should you write with specific genre limitations in place and make you and your book more attractive to publishers, or write for the passion that you have and think up different marketing schemes for yourself to get the reader base?
I have noticed that many of the smaller book publishers are far more forgiving of the limits in place and as such are much more willing to take on some of these books. That’s possibly why a lot of readers are now going straight to these publishers and are not heading for the big six/five publishers. This is a great thing, I believe, for writers, readers and for the smaller publishing houses. They are now getting even more great writers on their books. Writers are getting heard of that several years ago wouldn’t have stood a chance, and readers, well they get the best deal of all, they get to read some amazing new styles of books.
For me, it has never been about money, but writing something of a good quality that people will enjoy. I want to mix things up a bit and to take risks. I want to take things back to the basics of genre. In some ways, stripping it all back to its beginnings, and then starting again with fresh ideas and mixing it all back up.
I would love to see more women getting into horror, and more men trying romance. My next novel, for instance, is a post-apocalyptic dystopian horror with romantic elements. (There is also a surprise element in it, though I’m not saying what at this point, as I know that it will put some people off, ha ha.) People seem doubtful that you can mix horror and romance. The romance genre is supposed to, in theory, have a happy ending. Yet horror is certainly not known for this. However, on the tester chapters that I have sent out, (without the readers being told what genre they are reading) the response has been amazing.
So, my opinion, for what it is worth would be this. As readers and writers, WE hold the power to change things and, WE can help get different books on to the market, and it starts with taking a chance on something new. The big publishers don’t hold all the aces, WE do.
So pass by your most frequented shelf in the bookstore or library and reach for something a little different. Try a new author, try a new style and try a new genre.
I bet that you will be pleasantly surprised if you do.
Claire C Riley lives in the UK with her husband, three young children, and one scruffy dog. She likes to break boundaries with her writing, incorporating an old school style of horror and romance. Sexy and dark.
Limerence is available now for Kindle