Actually, a more accurate title for this post would probably be ‘My trouble with genre’ because I doubt anyone else has problems with finding a nice, neat little cubbyhole to slip their writing into. If I’m wrong, please feel free to drop in a comment so I know I’m not paddling this boat by myself.
Here’s the thing. I take pride in my writing and I want readers to enjoy it, so I do everything they (you know who they are) advise doing. I proofread and edit a few hundred times. I have others look over the writing so brand new eyes can help with the proofing. I try to make appealing covers. I’m not (yet) to the point where I can hire someone to do the cover art but I don’t think I’m doing too bad in that department. I know I’ve seen worse out there, although I’ve also seen a lot better. And (most importantly, IMO) I try to create interesting stories that others would enjoy.
However, finding the correct genre is important because enjoyment is in the eye of the beholder and it’s a complete waste of time to crank out what might be an awesome story and then pitch it to the wrong crowd because that crowd won’t like it. For example, Twilight took the world by storm because it targeted the right audience. If someone said, ‘Hey! It has vampires so it must be horror,’ then horror fans would’ve buried this thing so deep that it would never ever see the light of day again. Fortunately for Stephenie Meyer, nobody tried to shove Twilight into the horror genre just because it has vampires in it. Unfortunately for me, I seem to have discovered a serious weakness in myself – I can’t classify my own work.
Dead Man Walking was easy. It has zombies, people dying, and blood and guts being spilled on the floor. Horror, right? Works for me, just because most zombie stories fall into that category, although I know there are exceptions out there. Still now sure how a romantic zombie will work in Warm Bodies but I’m willing to give it a try.
Little Demons is trickier. There are no zombies, no vampires, and no werewolves. Farmer Crowley and his daughter, Lilly, are a long way from being normal but they’re not the conventional baddies. As a result, Little Demons seems to be sitting around the virtual bookshelves taking a nap. People are looking at the page, according to the stats on Smashwords, but they’re not grabbing it. Maybe I should’ve stuck with the conventional plots until my name became more known? Let’s face it. Stephen King could write a story about a haunted phone book and readers would snatch it up. Why? Because it’s King. If I wrote the same story, people would be like, “Who’s the weirdo writing about phone books?” Of course, the sexual content disclaimer might be a turn-off also. It’s not porn but there are a couple of steamy scenes included. Couldn’t be helped because it’s essential for the plot.
As if writing about a rural version of Hell wasn’t hard enough to categorize, my current work-in-progress (The Doctor is In: Tales of Doctor Horror #1) is another one that doesn’t want to fit into a particular niche, although I think it straddles the line between horror and urban fantasy. It’s about a young girl named Penny who teams up with a strange guy calling himself Doctor Horror to defend the living against the dead.
Incidentally, has anyone else noticed that Amazon doesn’t have an urban fantasy category? Instead, they have something called urban life. Is that the same thing???
Incidentally, Part II, I might have to give some more thought to that haunted phone book idea… if King doesn’t beat me to it first 😉
Hopefully, this whole categorizing thing will get easier as time goes on.