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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Squeezing Into a Box - Selecting Your Category in Publishing


CATEGORIES! I know it's all about discoverability. I know that Amazon ranking depends on choosing the right category and tags for your book. I know, I know ... and I hate fitting into boxes.

I finally figured out where my book fits on Amazon, and I can't say I'm happy. But I'm going to be in:


When I was going after agents, I was all, like "Upmarket commercial or women's fiction with a magical realism twist." This was advised by my editor, who has served as a literary agent for one of New York's top firms. I figured she should know. 

The Renaissance Club, (forthcoming in January 2018 from Fiery Seas Publishing) will be categorized under Fiction in different ways on different platforms. I'm with other fantasy authors, mainly, some romance, though all the romance publishers said my love story didn't fit the formula! Another fox I couldn't squeeze into.

I went back to the drawing board, only to find the drawing board looks like Einstein's chalk board on one of his more frustrated days.

So what is the difference between these ever-evolving categories on bookstore shelves and Amazon's  categories. Arthur Krystal in The New Yorker ignited a public debate with his article in 2012
http://levgrossman.com/2010/05/so-d-you-write-fantasy-or-literary-fiction-or-what-do-you-write-lev-grossman/

Lev Grossman, author of the best-selling Magician's Trilogy, jumped into the discussion.What's wrong with genre? It seems we're all heading into one or another.

On Amazon you have to drill down from Books --> Literature --> Literary Fiction --> Women's Fiction or Fantasy. The road seriously branches here, but I've been going on the assumption that because there are more books in this category than in Fantasy, it might be a fruitful avenue to pursue. But my novel appears too literary for this category. So back to the fork in the road. Under Fantasy (with less than half the titles as Women's Fiction), you have no more sub-genres to choose from. Which leads me to conclude that a) my story doesn't fit well into this category, whose emphasis is on other worlds, and b) magical realism is not a sub-genre on Amazon, nor in most bookstores, so back to just plain Commercial or Mainstream Fiction as a category. Try standing out in that Amazon crowd.

Which boxes can you squeeze into as an author? And do you also find it frustrating, after the freedom of writing an entire novel, to have to perform this exercise? My sympathies!