When we get ready to send out a query, one of the things an agent or editor will want to know is what genre the manuscript fits into. According to the Encarta dictionary, genre means:
1. category of artistic works: one of the categories, based on form, style, or subject matter, into which artistic works of all kinds can be divided. For example, the detective novel is a genre of fiction.
Knowing the genre helps determine your target market, and gives agents and editors an idea of what comparable books have been written. If the market is saturated with that genre, or it is in a genre that has been selling especially well, that might affect the agent’s or editor’s interest in your manuscript.
Agents and editors each have their own area of interest, so you don’t want to waste your time, or theirs, sending queries to places that don’t handle the type of work you’ve written. But sometimes a novel or nonfiction book will contain elements of more than one genre, making it hard to classify. One way to narrow it down is to visualize where you’d expect to find your book if you went looking for it in a bookstore. For example, where would your young-adult-historical-romantic-suspense novel (or whatever you’ve written) fit best on the bookshelf at Barnes and Noble?
Choosing the appropriate genre can be confusing, so I’m going to write a series of blog posts about some of the genres in fiction and in nonfiction. I’ll do one or two a week, so if there’s one you’d like me to discuss right away, leave a request in the comments. In the meantime, here are some sites that list some of the different genres in fiction:
http://www.agentquery.com/genre_descriptions.aspx A list and brief explanation of some basic genres in fiction
http://www.cuebon.com/ewriters/genres.html A long list of genres, with lots of subgenres
http://www.writersdigest.com/article/genredefinitions/ Writer’s Digest list of subgenres, with brief descriptions
What genre you do prefer reading? If you’re a writer, what genre does your work usually fit into?