Picking your books genre can be extremely frustrating, especially if your story doesn't fit exactly into the description of the genre. Don't despair though, I have a few steps that may help!
1) Go to a bookstore!
Okay, this is going to sound trite. If it does, then head to #2. But it worked for me! If your book was inspired by a particular novel or author, then go find them on the shelf. Now imagine that your book sits next to it.
2) Armed with your best guess, head to the BISG site.
Click on the genre you chose in #1 and study the sub-genres on BISG. Then bookmark BISG! Why? Because new genres pop up every year. The BISG site is the most transparent method of spotting a new mainstream, “official” market for your work. And guess what? Most booksellers comply with the BISG list!
3) Head to the major online booksellers and find your niche.
These sites are your stores. You get a place on the shelf. You get a small display. You get a few seconds to make the sale. So know your store. Luckily, with the BISG list you whittled down the choices so you don’t need to dig as much now that you’re about to dive into the morass of online bookstore genre lists! How big a mess are they? Well, here’s the Mystery genre list of four top online stores.
4) Choose every single genre that makes sense.
That’s probably a lot, and that’s okay. Write the list down somewhere safe. You’ll need it for. Each online seller allows you to choose a different number of genres. Choose the genres that feel right. Or choose the genres that solid data supports. Make sure your honest with yourself and choose a genre that actually fits. Just because your book includes a cameo of a handsome vampire doesn’t make it a New Adult Paranormal Romance. If you choose the wrong genre for your book you will hear from the readers — with bad reviews. Some bookstores don’t allow you to choose the precise genre you want. In this case, write to their support team and tell them you’d like placement in a certain genre. They’ll do so, but it may take a while. When identifying your genre, remember they aren’t cut and dried. People won’t always agree about which genre a certain book falls into. Just do the best you can to capture your book with a helpful genre description.
5) Measure performance and make changes
This might be controversial advice, but it makes sense. If you don’t think your book is finding an audience in the genre you picked, then consider changing to another one. The changed genres for the Shirley Link series on Amazon from Young Adult Mysteries to Kids Mysteries. I was getting a lot of downloads in Young Adult, but most of my reviews were *enh* to awful because young adults thought my books were too young for them. While I haven’t yet shown in the top seller list on Kids Mysteries, I’ve seen excellent reviews since I made the move. If an age group is part of your genre, add another descriptor.
How did you pick your novels genre? Let me know in the comments!