Genre of Books

Now that you have an idea of who your characters are, where your story is set and the conflict that is driving them, you next need to make sure you meet genre expectations.

The genre of books is king in the world of fiction.

If you open your story with an intense action sequence, you’re setting your readers up for a high-octane experience.

If you begin with two characters meeting romantically, you’re setting them up for a different experience.

If you begin with a romance, and then the story ends in an outer space battle, that will be very confusing for readers.

Romance readers won’t like the fight scene at the end, and scifi fans won’t even see it because they would have given up reading long before they even get there.

You have to ensure you meet reader expectations. You do this by meeting genre conventions.

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Deciding Upon A Genre

By now, you probably already have a firm idea of which genre you’re going to be writing your story in.

But if you don’t yet, how do you decide?

It’s actually very, very simple.

Ask yourself this question:

Which genres do you like to read?

By choosing something you already enjoy reading, you’re more likely to stick with the project to the end.

You will also already have a grasp of basic conventions of your genre.

But what if you’ve got an idea you’re in love with, but it suits a genre that isn’t something you’d normally read?

Then you have two choices. You either;

  1. Begin reading this new genre voraciously in order to develop a sense for your new story.
  2. Put a spin on the idea so it does fit your favorite genre.

Of the two options, the second is my preferred method. Write what you like.

Your story is more likely to be unique because you approached it this way. You’re mixing genres.

Maybe you have an idea for a romance, but you’ve never read romance before and you much prefer to read science fiction.

Then why not keep the story idea, but turn the characters into a human woman and an alien man falling in love? Romeo & Juliet in space. Two warring intergalactic families.

Sounds cool to me!

Or make the romance a subplot in your sci-fi narrative.

It’ll be a sci-fi romance. Science fiction is the main genre, with all the conventions - spaceships, colonized planets, laser weapons etc, and at the center of it all, a budding romance.

Amazon Search

Another way to decide which genre you want to write in is to go to Amazon.

Search through their genre sections. You can pare down into a single genre.

Take the thriller genre for example. Scroll down through the subgenres.

There are crime thrillers, historical thrillers, legal thrillers, supernatural thrillers, and many others.

Try to match your story idea with a genre that will compliment it.

You just have to be open and honest with yourself about the kind of story you’re thinking about writing.

You also could focus on the authors you usually like to read, study the tone and content that they usually write, and apply it to your own idea.

You do not want to target one of these broad categories because there will be too much competition in them.

You want to pare down and down until you find a genre that has less competition.

It might be a little different to the type of story you’re used to reading, but don’t worry. There is a lot of overlap between the genres.

The Most Profitable Genres On Amazon

Amazon is the gorilla in the room - probably in any room!

If you want to make a living as a self-publisher, you will have to deal with Amazon at some point.

They have the most sophisticated book categorising system in the world, so you ought to know how to take advantage of it.

Here are the most popular genres on Amazon right now:

  1. Romance
  2. Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
  3. Sci-fi and Fantasy
  4. Literary

The fact these books sell so well on Amazon is a suggestion they will sell just as well on other websites.

Does this mean you ought to write romance in order to be successful?

No, but it will probably make things easier if you naturally lean that way.

I write in the post-apocalypse and fantasy categories and do very well.

It’s difficult to maintain sales in the literary genre, simply because there are fewer readers interested in writing these kinds of stories - but there are more than enough of them to sustain a writer’s career.

Add in the fact fewer people write literary, and you can probably find a good audience there too.

I suggest you write what you want, so long as it fits in with at least one of the top genres on Amazon.

Choosing the right genre and category is important because it is one way readers use to find you and your books.

It’s a bad idea to constantly keep shifting and changing genres, simply because you will sell fewer books.

If a reader loved your sci-fi book, and now wants to read something else by you, but you have only romance, they’re not going to buy it.

Feel free to try out different genres at the beginning - perhaps by writing short stories - to get a feel for which one you like best.

Then pick one and stick to it.

If you disappoint readers for some reason - for example, you write dark gritty thrillers, and you file it under the romance category thinking more people will read it, you will fail spectacularly.

If you try and cheat the system and design a cover that looks like a romance, but the content is still that dark gritty drama, they will be sorely disappointed - no matter how well it was written - because they were expecting the story you set them up with, not the one they actually got.

Hello bad reviews and no sales.

So it is important to choose the correct category for your audience and prepare them for the excitement they will get from your book.

Imagine if this happened to you.

You pick up a book, expecting it to be a thriller. Instead it turns out to be a children’s story book, complete with pop-up pictures.

Amazon’s system is there to protect both you and the reader from disappointment.

If a reader does not get the book they were expecting, they might ask for a refund.

No money for you or Amazon. That’s why they have these systems in place.

Amazon wants to earn as much money as it can. It’s a business. It is not your friend.

Enjoying this article? Then why not share with your friends?

Get To Know Genre Conventions

Have a flick through the genre categories on the Amazon Kindle store and get a feel for the various genres on offer.

Click around and get used to how a reader will be looking at this website, how they will shop.

Take a look at the top five books in each category. Read the descriptions. What kind of story do they describe? How do they convey tone?

James Patterson’s thrillers often feature characters involved with crime, dealing harsh punishment and great detective seeking skills.

On the romance genre list, I just spotted a Nora Roberts story that also involves solving crime.

But Roberts’ blurb describes passion and hunger - it’s about the relationship between the two main characters. Patterson’s stories are dark and entirely about catching the murderer.

Once you’ve read through a few book descriptions, you’ll understand which elements are the most important to those particular readers.

You’ll also get a feel for the kind of artwork and covers readers expect to see.

Genre Elements In Your Own Work

Take a close look at the story you’re preparing to write.

Make a list of all the different aspects of it that put it firmly in the genre and category you’re thinking about placing it.

Sure, there might be a romance intertwined with the story, but does it really push the story forward? If you removed this romance, would the story still work by itself?

If so, then you have not written a romance. A romance is all about the relationships. Remove those, and you have no story.

Consider what you think is most important about the book. Look for strands, the elements of the story and book that hold it in place.

Keep this list. You’ll need it when you make a decision about which genre your book belongs to.

Who Is Your Biggest Fan?

Design a character outline of the kind of person who is most likely to buy your book.

What do they look like?
How old are they?
Where are they from?
What are their hobbies?
What are the things they would say about your book that they love? (And don’t say, “Everything!”)
And what would they say they dislike about your book?

Get beyond the vague. Specifically, what did they like?

Imagine you’re a small child coming out of the cinema after watching an exciting movie adapted from your novel. What would you say?

“I loved the bit when…” and “I hated the bad guy because…!” are great starting places.

Keep genre conventions in mind when you’re thinking through these things.

Did they want a happily ever after? Or did they want the bag guy to get away with the money?

Remember, these are only things you’re imagining right now. You don’t need to go about changing your story just yet.

Bear in mind your reader, always.

Imagine they’re peeking over your shoulder as you’re writing. Make sure it’s something they’ll enjoy.


Now you’ve got your ideal reader in mind, try imagining the other books you know that they might like.

(This is where it’s important to write in a genre you’re already comfortable with - because you know most of the other books they might be reading already.)

Within the main genre of a category, there are various “flavors.”

Consider the Hunger Games, Divergent, Braced to Bite and Twilight series. They’re all aimed at the same audience, but each is totally different.

Take a look at these books’ descriptions.

Copy and paste them into a Word document. You might use them later as templates when you write your own.

Read through them. Do they still sound like something your superfan might enjoy?

If you click on these books on Amazon, you can scroll down to see which genres they are currently residing in. Write these down too.

You Are The Superfan

The superfan I asked you to imagine earlier will probably be similar to you in some way - you are a fan of your genre too, right? Or else you wouldn’t be writing it!

You should be a superfan of your particular genre. You know all the big names and have read far wider than most.

You could take a quiz on your genre and answer many of the questions.

So the question is, what do you love most about your chosen genre? What is it that makes you keep reading them?

Just as important:

What do you dislike about them?

Write these down and ensure you include/remove those elements from your own story.

Mixing Genres

Mixing genres can create some really interesting stories and make your book stand out from the crowd.

But for marketing purposes you need to be clear about which genre is dominant. This is who you will be targeting.

Blending genres can be tricky to sell, as people who love their genres often stick to it and don’t like to deviate from it.

You’re likely to get a lot of hot/cold reviews - from those who love it, and those who loathe it.

Also note that Young Adult is not a genre, but a category. This means you can have YA in any genre.

When it comes to the day of publishing, you can choose two categories for your book.

Choose a broad one, and a niche for the other. It means you’ll be more likely to rank high in the niche category, boosting your profile that will hopefully carry over to the broad category.

Genre Of Books

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how you will write your book.

The purpose of choosing a genre is not to pigeonhole your book, but to make marketing easier. We want readers to find our books.

Once you know what your genre’s conventions are, you can consciously subvert or change them.

The important word here is consciously.

You will be aware of what you’re doing, and that will be what makes it an amazing experience.

Identifying the right audience and genre is important, but ultimately we are all writing for ourselves, to please our egos.

If you enjoy what you’re doing, you will also entertain the readers who will love your work.


Answer and complete the following:

Spend 20 minutes going through Amazon’s genres and categories as a reader would.
Can you picture your book’s cover?
Can you find other covers on Amazon that look similar?
Does your idea fit snugly into a popular genre?
Or does it straddle several genres?
Decide which genre you will write in.
If you have mixed genres, decide which one is the dominant genre.
Imagine who your biggest fan is.

Make sure to grab your FREE How To Write A Novel In 30 Days Cheat Sheet. You'll be producing and selling in no time!

Be a cheeky monkey and make sure to grab your FREE How To Write A Novel In 30 Days Cheat Sheet. You'll be producing and selling in no time!

Be a cheeky monkey and make sure to grab your FREE How To Write A Novel In 30 Days Cheat Sheet. You'll be producing and selling in no time!