Monthly Online eZine  
News And Views For Working Writers

 INside Scoop
 IN Her Own Write
 Pen IN Hand
 Write On!
 Screen & Stage
 Top 10 Resources
 Book Reviews
 Items Of INterest
 Global Offerings
 INside Services
 Bill The Bard
 The Writer At Work
 Games & Puzzles
 Classic eTexts
 Free Software
 IN Banners
 Who's IN
 What's IN
 Editorial Calendar
 Join IN's Team
 Contacting IN

IN Front Cover


Learn To Be A Better Journalist

Buy Classic Literature Collections

Acclaimed Screenplay Writing Software

Books On How To Write Fiction

Become A Well Paid Travel Writer

Vote daily and raise our ranking!

IN Her Own Write
January, 2008

Food of Love

What's Your Genre?
Riddle me this
By  Anne R. Allen

If you’re a fledgling novelist marketing your first book, you may be stymied when asked to pigeonhole your work into a genre. Unless you set out to write a category romance or mystery according to specific guidelines, your book probably has elements of several genres. But don’t offer up a laundry list. Calling your opus a “dark literary urban paranormal romantic comedy thriller” is like stamping “amateur” on your query letter.
Unfortunately, assigning your book an all-purpose mainstream or literary label can be a liability too.
But don’t despair. To start, you can go to Amazon’s entries for books similar to yours and scroll down to "Look for Similar Items by Category." You’ll usually find several categories—like Romance, Historical, Women’s Fiction. Some categories are traditionally paired on bookstore shelves, like Mystery/Crime or SF/Fantasy. You can blend a couple of genres and sub-genres, like Chick Lit/Urban Fantasy, as long as you don’t go overboard.
Note: Never call it a "fiction novel." (All novels are fiction. Some memoirs are too, but that’s another story…)
You can even claim to write in different genres depending on where you query. Your vampire love story might interest publishers of erotic fantasy, supernatural mystery, paranormal thrillers — or maybe horror. If you use a sassy voice, it might work as chick lit; or if the protagonist is young, try Y/A. The now-retired (sob!) Miss Snark said she assigned genres to clients’ books depending on what editor she was talking to.
Basic Genres
Chick Lit (Hen Lit, Mommy Lit, etc.) The Rodney Dangerfield of genres — we get no respect: Light, funny women’s stories with a distinctive, can-we-talk voice. Originally aimed at twenty-somethings, now branching into all women’s markets.
Commercial: Traditionally, any plot-driven fiction, but now, according to AgentQuery, this means "high concept" projects with a unique subject and potential audience of zillions: stories that can be summarized in one wow-inducing sentence.
Crime Fiction: Stories centering on the physical aspects of a crime. Subgenre True Crime focuses on the criminal mind (grifters, Mafiosi, etc.) and Detective Fiction on just-the-facts-ma’am details of bringing a criminal to justice. The original D**k Lit.

Fantasy: Not just about elves, dragons, and talking badgers any more. Dark Fantasy (vampires, were-persons) Urban Fantasy (spawn of Buffy) and Erotic Fantasy (Were-persons hooking up) are big.
Historical Fiction: A story set fifty or more years in the past that uses the time period as an element of the story.
Horror: Scare the pants off your reader — á la King.
Literary: Language and character trump story. The agent’s assistant who blogs as The Rejector says publishers won’t look at literary authors unless their short stories appear regularly “in huge magazines like Atlantic Monthly, Michigan Quarterly Review, or The New Yorker.” So keep grinding out those stories.

Mainstream: This once-basic category is on the wane. As Patrick Anderson details in his new book, The Triumph Of The Thriller, former mainstream staples like family chronicles, historical epics, and sweeping Micheneresque sagas are no longer big sellers.
Multi-Cultural: Anything NOT about middle-class characters of northern European heritage.
Mystery: Crime-solving puzzles. Classic Whodunits, Cozies, Private Eye, Noir, and Police Procedurals are still going strong, and Historical, Supernatural, and Literary mysteries are hot.
Romance: Must follow specific publisher guidelines and provide happy endings. (One agent blogs bitterly about love stories submitted as romance.) Popular subgenres are Paranormal, Christian, Multi-Culti, and Time-Travel. Traditional categories like Regency and Historical still do well and Gothic is back. Plus there’s a growing market for explicitly erotic romance.
Science Fiction: The line between branches of speculative fiction is blurring, but the plot should be based on science rather than myth or make-believe. Subgenres include Social, Cyberpunk, New Wave, Alternate History, Military, and Apocalyptic.
Satire: If you’re in the US and write for a sophisticated audience that gets irony, emigrate. Or sneak it in as another genre.
Thriller/Suspense: Fast-paced adventure, with a protagonist in constant peril. Flavours include: Spy, Political, Military, Conspiracy, Techno-, Eco-, Legal, Medical, and Futuristic. Psychological thrillers are hot — with erotic, romantic, and/or supernatural suspense.
Westerns: Horses, guns, and stoic agricultural workers in the late 19th/early 20th century American West.
Women’s Fiction: A woman struggles against adversity. Can be literary, gritty, or weepy — and usually, but not always, includes a realistic love story.
Young Adult: Any of the above categories written for teens. Literary novels with teen protagonists sometimes sneak into print as Y/A to avoid the hasn’t-published-in-The New Yorker police.
Mix and match as you hone your query, and with luck, you’ll find a genre label to reach your potential readers.

IN Icon

Anne R. Allen is a California novelist and freelance writer. Her latest comic novel, The Best Revenge, (Babash-Ryan) debuted in the UK in 2005 and is available from and most UK bookshops. Her first novel with Babash-Ryan, Food Of Love is available from and as well as

Sign Up and Use Our New Forums! Voice Your Opinion! Discuss Our Content! Ask for Writing Assistance. Post Your Successes, Queries or Information Requests. Collaborate with Other Writers.

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049

IN Her Own Write
IN This Issue
For Whose Eyes Only?
Rewrites Without A Contract?
What's Your Genre?
Who Needs An Agent?
Lots Of Plots
Writers' Conferences?
Writing The Dreaded Synopsis
Hooks, Loglines, and Pitches
Landing An Agent

Support IN
Receive Free Gifts
$20.00 Voluntary Contribution
$35.00 Voluntary Contribution
$50.00 Voluntary Contribution

New Novelist Software

Effectively Manage Your List

Writers Digest 101 Site Award

Your Ad Here

Traffic Swarm For Writers

Hottest Books This Month!

Whose Books Are Turning Into Movies?
Bald Ego
Mouse Over To Pause

Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

Our Own Banner Rotator System
Any banner seen below is either our own or one of our members.
Support the cause - click a banner.

Want Your 468x60 Banner Above? It's FREE For Newly Published Books

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049
All Rights Reserved. Copying in any way strictly forbidden.
Our Disclaimer Is Based Upon McIntyre's First Law: "Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you may be wrong."