How to Discover the Genre of Your Manuscript

If you have written a few manuscripts, you know how confusing it can be to try and figure out exactly which genre or category your book falls under.

Knowing what genre you are writing in is especially important when listing it on Amazon or when submitting it to literary agents through a query letter.

Since agents disregard letters with descriptions like this one: ‘My book is a horror/mystery with elements of fantasy and a dash of romance, a la Twilight’, here are some tips by best-selling authors for discovering the genre of your book.

Genre-Discovering Tips

  • If you are unsure of the genre in which your book falls, check out ten books in each of several genres and read a page or two from each book. If you think you’re writing fantasy, check out ten fantasy books and read a page or two from each. Do you still think you’re writing fantasy?’ –Laura Whitcomb, Your First Novel
  • ‘Read not only the books in what you think might be your genre, but also read books outside your presumed genre.’ –John Grisham
  • ‘Think of which books and authors you admire. Think of which books you enjoy reading. Try letting your writing shape your target market instead and see what happens.’ –Catherine Ryan Hide, Writersdigest
  • Ask yourself, Who would be interested in this story? Who would buy it? Fans of which genre? –Logic

Decide Which Genre Your Book is (and dont try to make it fit into a different genre)

It is important to establish early on–while you write your outline–the genre of your tale; it will help you narrow down voice and atmosphere and identify the most important aspects to illuminate in that specific genre.

This is crucial, as different aspects are more prominent in certain genres. Consider: Character, setting, language/slang, level of sex and violence, pacing, etc. Understanding which aspects to elevate and which to underplay will make the genre appear more obvious and focused to whomever is reading your book.

For fantasy, include the Thrill of Discovery.

For mystery, employ elements of deception like an unreliable narrator, confusing crime scenes, and conflicting reports.

For  horror, infuse the tale with a heavy sense of dread and doom.

For Romance, don’t forget to highlight aromas and various tactile points of narration, to lend a physical sensation to every chapter.

For further help, you might do well to check out writerslife or this article by literary agent Rachelle Gardner.

God bless, and keep up the writing! 

The Winds of Winter: Expectations and Epic Fantasy

While most book launches from best-selling authors are looked on with anticipation and are built up with hype, few have been on the hype waiting list longer than George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter.

The great fantasist has been working on the sixth installment to the Song of Ice and Fire series for over seven years.

(According to Totally Reliable Internet Theorists, Martin has actually been working on it, though many dispute this claim. Flavorwire reports that Martin has been too busy working on a collection of Tyrion quips, titled The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister—among other equally useful endeavors—to be bothered finishing the book his fans want. By the way, that report was made four years ago.)

Though already something of a cult classic, the SOIAF series exploded into viral-levels of fame with the phenomenal success of its HBO adaptation, the more aptly named Game of Thrones. From magazine covers to extended literary works set in Westeros, the epic fantasy has truly become larger than life.

With each episode costing nearly $10 million, and the ratings for each season increasing, there seems no end to the popularity of this series.

Tourism has increased by as much as 40% in the locations where Game of Thrones is shot! The show Supernatural even took the time to have its main characters sit down and watch Game of Thrones (I love the scene where Sam says he doesn’t want to watch the later seasons until he has read all the books; and his brother Dean mocks him for that, saying: Why read the books? That’s stupid.)

And that’s not even mentioning the fact that as of the fifth season, events in the show have (inevitably) passed beyond events and scenes in the books.

So the big question is: Can any book live up to such a crazy level of hype?

You’re right, the question is fundamentally flawed. Readers know that the greatness or crapiness of TV series and movie adaptations don’t have a hope of holding a candle to their book sources. It is very rare (though not unheard of) for movies and shows to surpass their book sources in quality and interest.

The question then becomes: can The Winds of Winter match the greatness of its book predecessors?

Consider this: George R.R. Martin has spent more time writing (or not writing—depending on who you ask) the sixth book of the SOIAF series than on any of the previous books in the series. The first book, A Game of Thrones, won awards when it was published in 1996—though it wasn’t a bestseller until fifteen years later in 2011. Hmm, that’s the same year the HBO hit came out. Coincidence? I think not.

Consider this: he’s been writing the series for more than twenty years, it’s a good bet his skills have improved, though I can’t find anything amiss with the first book, writing-wise, that would require a honing of his writing chops. In most cases (here’s looking at you, Stephen King) writers tend to improve over time.

Consider this: George Martin has had the benefit of working with two extraordinary scriptwriters and producers, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who have taken his vision and shown it to the world on the small screen. Benioff is himself an excellent novelist!

They say company rubs off on you. Well, Martin has been keeping some good company in the years that The Winds of Winter has been in production.

Whichever face the coin falls on, you can bet Winds of Winter will become an instant bestseller. It doesn’t matter if the spoilers have been spoiled, or if it follows the pattern of the previous two books in their meandering narratives, where a lot of people die but little progress is made.

If any book can live up to the hype, it is the epic fantasy written by the modern master of epic fantasies. You just have to wonder, if the hype just keeps building, whether he works on the book or not, does George R.R. Martin even feel compelled to finish this unfinished work? Does he even have to finish it? Why not let someone else take over, if he’s too busy writing a superhero anthology with his writing buddies?

Whenever it does come out, The Winds of Winter will break the charts, win awards, and make a rich man even richer. Hmm, perhaps hype isn’t so great after all.

But I’m still going to get the book when it comes out.


Boost Traffic to Your Blog with New Pages

This looks like the Adirondack Institute of Magic, the school in W.A.N.D.

One of the simplest ways to boost traffic to your site or blog is to add content. If you run a blog, this is easy enough: just keep posting useful things for your visitors. But whether your domain is a site or a blog, you can still increase your hits/clicks counts by adding dedicated pages.

A static page may not be Google’s favorite thing to crawl, but it can still be very useful; it is yet another place to drop in keyword headers and clickable images and other traffic-boosting elements that search engines will discover. After all, the more content you have, the greater your odds of being discovered through organic searches.

More pages equal more options, not just for you, but for your visitors to explore. Adding static pages is a dynamite and sneaky method for increasing bounce-rate opportunities.

With more pages, you have more occasions for linking within your site. This improves your bounce rate, increases conversions, and makes you look good to search engines, which will in turn increase your discoverability.

I added pages and started posting more frequently. Perhaps I’m just getting better at it, but in the first 8 days of November, I surpassed my total traffic numbers for all of October.

I started getting pingbacks and comments. Of course, I am nowhere near the numbers of many others, but that’s okay, considering I took buckelsbooks live in September, a couple months back.

I’m learning, and just wanted to share what I am learning with you. Plenty of other bloggers can better tell you how to increase traffic, share the nitty-gritty details. For now, let me offer you a few quick ideas you might consider employing to boost traffic to your author’s blog and increase your conversions.

  • Instead of having one page devoted to all my books, I’ve split them up into My Books, and Nonfiction and Short Stories. (Probably I will separate them further, maybe dedicate a page to my Mythcorp series of urban fantasy novels, and one for the Steps employed in my nonfiction expose/parody The (Psycho) Path to Success). This way you can link to divergent pages, depending on the nature of the books to which you are guiding your visitors.
  • Create an entire page of ‘additional content’ exploring the world of one of your books. This works especially well for fantasy novels. I added some fascinating back story to my YA fantasy W.A.N.D. through the journal of one of its characters, the grizzled warlock Agabus Duchaine here.
  • You might consider crafting a page for your character bios. This expands your book world and adds interesting content to your blog. It also might entice casual visitors into purchasing your book, which they might never have done otherwise. This is conversion, and it is a beautiful thing.
  • Add a Projects or News page, dedicated to updating your books: coupons/launches/updated material/editorials. It’s also great for informing your visitors of your current progress. Are you working on a sequel to your popular series? A News page is the perfect place to keep them updated on your progress (you could even post about it and then simply leave that post on the page). Constant, or even weekly, updates keeps the page fresh, forcing search engines to work for you

These are my tactics anyway. I hope they can help you with your site. Keep at it, and be patient; if you build it, they will come!