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The Publishing and Marketing Side of Understanding Your Book’s Subgenre Potential

So you read Tuesday’s post, “Do You Really Know What a Genre Is?” And, for the record, you learned nothing.

As it turned out, yes, you really did know what a genre is. You’re smarter than a fifth grader. Which means that Innovative Editing wasted your time.

The only reason why you’re reading this new post is because the last one promised to make it worth your while. So you’re giving it one more chance.

If that’s your story, I’m glad you stuck around.

Go get out your notepad and No. 2 pencil.

Class is now in session, and it's much more worth your while.

Knowing your basic book genre is vastly important to the writing process. It gives you a set of boundaries that help focus your creative or professional abilities to better structure your story or message.

Knowing your specific book subgenre(s) is vastly important to the publishing and marketing process. It allows you to find the best outlets to gain the most readers to make the most impact.

Back before the days of online bookstores, this was a simple enough task. Today though, there are so many categories, niches and potential niches to consider – to the point of being ridiculous.

Yet ridiculous or not, you really want to understand where your book manuscript fits.

Determine the genre and subgenre you’re writing in.

If that challenge sounds too restrictive or restraining, too bad my little authorial cupcake. Trying to break out of the genre system will only make your publishing and/or post-publishing life a lot more difficult.

If you want to be traditionally published, literary agents will want to know exactly what you’ve written or are proposing to write. And even if you want to self-publish, your potential readers will want to know the same. This means you need to pick a genre to write in, then research it further to see if it features any fitting subgenres.

Tomorrow’s Writing Rule will delve further into the writing process aspects of genre identification.

For the purpose of today’s Writing Challenge though, we’re all about the publishing part of the equation.

As already implied, so many book sales are made online these days through who knows how many book-selling sites. And each one of them has its own specific genre and subgenre classification system.

For example, my magic-free Faerietales fantasy series is listed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo right now. This is how Book 1, Not So Human, is classified on each…


  • Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Contemporary

  • Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > General

Barnes & Noble:

  • Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy Fiction > Contemporary Fantasy

  • Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy Fiction > Adventure fantasy > Other

  • Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy Fiction > Fantasy Sagas


  • Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Contemporary

  • Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > General

  • Science Fiction & Fantasy > General

Now, obviously, Not So Human falls into the “Science Fiction & Fantasy” combined category in all three. There’s really no leeway there when it’s such an established segment of creative writing. The same thing goes for the “Contemporary Fantasy” subgenre.

But the more selective and specific you can get, the more you’re going to be able to stand out from the crowd. From a publishing and marketing perspective, that’s what knowing your book's genre and subgenre(s) is all about… letting readers know that you exist.

If you’re just a science fiction & fantasy writer, you’re just one itty bitty fish in an enormous ocean.

If you’re just a fantasy writer, you’re just one itty bitty fish in a huge sea.

If you’re just a contemporary fantasy writer, you’re just one itty bitty fish in a big lake. And so on.

So whatever your genre is, narrow it down as far as you can go so that you’re not “just” one itty bitty fish. You’re one itty bitty fish that got bought.

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