05 March 2012

Below Decks: From Steampunk to Time Travel, all Things Subgenre

Our theme this month is all things subgenre. To open up the conversation, I think we first need to discuss what genres are and why subgenres exist.

I like to think of the publishing industry as a giant book store. Sigh, remember those?

Let's take a walk inside this gorgeous virtual store and take a gander at all those yummy books. On the left side of the store we have our nonfiction titles--memoirs, cookbooks, sports....

On the right side of the store is--wait, let me just breathe it all in--fiction books. This is a huge section of the store. How are we going to find what we are looking for in such a vast area?

To make it easier for readers to find specific books, booksellers have split fiction up into several categories, or genres. Genre fiction includes Mystery, Romance, Horror, Suspense and Science Fiction.

Let's just meander over there to the Romance section of our virtual store. Since we can make this puppy as beautiful as we want it to be, I'm calling the Romance section the biggest one in the place. Wowza, look at all those stunning covers!

Uh-uh. Now we have another problem. There are so many books, that we could get lost in here. Well, the booksellers don't want us lost, they want us to find our way back to the cashier, right? So they helped us out by creating subsets within our genre. These subgenres could be such things as Historical, Paranormal, Suspense, Women's Fiction, Category.... The subgenres are designed to help the reader know a little bit about what they are getting into before they buy. The covers reflect the subgenres as well. Remember all those pink Chick Lit covers with the drawn covers? Dark books will most likely have dark covers, and so on.


What happens when the author is a chronic genre-blender? Where is the bookseller supposed to shelf a Romance about a 15th Century ghost who gets tangled up with a contemporary murder mystery? What? Why are you all looking at me?

It gets a little tricky with authors like me, I admit. At my core, I am a Paranormal Romance author and that is probably where my books get placed.

What are your favorite subgenres?

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