Tuesday, January 28, 2014

“If You Liked A Wrinkle In Time…” Choosing a Genre for Your Book

People ask me what sort of book I like and I say "all sorts." They ask my favorite genre and I say I have too many to mentioned. And they ask what genre I write in... which leaves me wondering how on earth to answer them. I write children's Bible stories, spiritual speculative fantasies, contemporary dramas... but presumably not all at once. And today's guest, author Tricia Stewart Shiu, writes... well, perhaps I'll let her tell you. I saw her latest book, Iron Shinto, advertized with the phrase, "If you liked a wrinkle in time..." and I was hooked.

 


“If You Liked A Wrinkle In Time…”
 Choosing a Genre for Your Book

Guest Blog Post by


Tricia Stewart Shiu
Author

You’ve heard the saying: “It isn’t the heat, it’s the humidity.” Well, in publishing, the saying goes:  “it isn’t the genre, it’s the options.”

After self-publishing your book one of the first decision with which you are faced, is choosing your audience.

For most people, choosing a book genre is pretty clear. From Mystery to Self-Help, Cooking to Travel, how hard can it be to tell the world where your book fits in the vast world of publishing?

But, for a chosen few, genres are not so simple. As the literary world evolves, genres do, too, which means facing tough questions and taking bigger risks, than just publishing a book. Not only that, each platform has its own genre listings, which can make for some creative maneuvering when choosing a genre.

Four years ago, while promoting the first book in the Moa Series, “Moa,” I discovered, first hand, that choosing a genre not only plays a key role in getting reviews and gaining momentum in a book marketing campaign, it’s an integral part of selling books. It can literally, make or break your readership.

What I discovered, very quickly, was if I chose something too far from the scope of my genre, I risked getting some disappointing reviews from those who might not “get” my book.

Here’s what happened. I categorized “Moa” as “Paranormal, Literary Fiction.” Set in Hawaii, the story follows Hillary Hause, a recent high school grad, who receives a trip to visit her sister and niece as a graduation gift. During a leisurely nap, Hillary comes face-to-face with an ancient Hawaiian spirit and the adventure begins.

Paranormal lovers did not connect well with Hillary or the mystical story.

The beauty of self-publishing is the ability to change genre listings at will, so, it was back to the drawing board. “Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy” is what I set as the genre for “Statue of Ku” and things changed drastically. This second book in the Moa Series is set in Egypt and includes true dazzling imagery, ancient mysticism and powerful plot twists. Suddenly, people understood the unconventional story and the unique characters. The story and characters hadn’t changed, but the new audience made the difference.

Another important tool I discovered, in my search to connect with those who might enjoy my books, was what I call, the “If you liked…” principle.

By finding a well-known book with a similar tone, I have been able to connect my books with readers who will truly appreciate the story and immediately understand the characters and voice. My choice was “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle, a lovely novel published in 1962.

Given the changing creative climate in publishing, your choice of genres can make your options cool, calm and collected.


Iron Shinto (ISBN: 978-0-9840020-8-5, 2013 Human Being Publishing, 208 Pages, Available on Amazon in Paperback, $12.95 and for $6.99 on Kindle 978-0-9840020-6-1 or on the author’s website http://humanbeingcompany.com/

About Tricia Stewart Shiu
Tricia Stewart Shiu is an award-winning screenwriter, author and playwright, but her passion lies in creating mystical stories. Her latest series, The Moa Books, which includes "Moa," "The Statue of Ku" and "The Iron Shinto," were, by far, her favorite to write.


I've never heard anyone use the words "cool, calm and collected" in a sentence about choice of genre before. Suddenly I feel inspired. Thank you Tricia, and thank you for sharing something of what difference a well-chosen genre can make. I loved a Wrinkle in Time, and I'm sure I shall love your series too.