Writing Books/Genre


At a recent writing conference I attended the workshop leader said that before marketing a book the author should know what genre it is.  How do I go about determining what genre my book is?

Actually, Judith, finding your genre is fairly easy.  Compared to other tasks within the writing life that is.  A genre, as you know, refers to what type of novel you've written.  It's imperative to know your genre in order to pitch your novel to an agent or editor.  See, the reality of publishing life is that every novel has to be put on one, and only one, shelf in Barnes & Noble, Borders, or other retail book stores.  If you're not Stephen King or Danielle Steele a publisher may not take a chance on a book that's described as an action/adventure, based on a true story, western novel.  The book has to be predominantly action/adventure, or, predominantly based on a true story or predominantly a western.  It's a given that if your book turns out to be predominantly a western that it will include action/adventure, some true historical events, even some romance.  But, to be called a Western, therefore letting everyone in the publishing business know which shelf your book goes on, the book must be predominantly a western.

There are many genres and the reference section of your local book store or the on-line book store of your choice, will have several titles that address the topic of defining genres.  To whet your appetite the following are some of the genres available for novelists:  mainstream, literary, saga, romance, fantasy, western, acttion/adventure, historical and mystery.  Some genres have certain conventions that make them 'fit' their genre that you need to be aware of.  For instance, in a mystery there has to be a crime.  It doesn't have to be a murder but that's the most frequent crime in mysteries.  In a romance, the heroine and love interest must be together at the end of the book.  That's the primary reason that Gone With the Wind is NOT a romance!

Then, just to muddy the waters a little bit more, many of the genres have sub-genres.  Romance sub-genres include contemporary, historical and suspense.  Mystery sub-genres include the police procedural, private eye, and amateur detective.

To find your genre, study what's out there on the reference shelves and then go to the sections of the book store and see which shelf your book belongs on.  We're lucky, at this stage, that the book stores do categorize books and put all the similar books together.  It's easier then to see where our books fall into the mix.  Then, you can start your query letter with confidence typing:  I'm seeking representation for an amateur detective mystery novel of 60,000 words titled:  Death for the Top Banana.

Good luck Judith.  If this helped at all, please take a moment to fill out the review below.  And, please, if you have any more questions, contact us at AllExperts again.!

Liz Aleshire
Private Lives of Ministers' Wives

Writing Books

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Liz Aleshire


What is a book proposal and why do I need one? Do I need a book proposal for both nonfiction and fiction books? How do I write a book proposal? What are the required components of a book proposal? What is an overview? What is a synopsis? How do I find out what other books are available on my topic so I can make my book different? How do I pitch to an agent/publisher? What's a query letter? What's a 30-second commercial?


I am the author of four nonfiction books: Private Lives of Ministers' Wives (with Rev. Sherry Taylor,New Horizon Press, New Jersey, 1991)and currently working on a second edition; Bugs: Stingers, Suckers, Sweeties, Swingers (a FRanklin Watts Frist Book, Chicago, 1993); The Confident Collector Identification and Price Guid to Quilts (with Kathleen Barach, Avon Books, NY, 1992); and, Official Price Guide to Quilts 2nd edition(with Kathleen Barach, Random House, NY, 2003.) I've taught How to Write the Book Proposal for the past ten years at the week long International Women's Writing Guild annual summer conference, and, at the Manchester Community College Continuing Education program. I've taught in many local continuing education programs in central Connecticut. Five authors have sold books using my methods for writing the book proposal. I have spoken at the Big Apple Conference, an IWWG event held in NYC; both Connecticut chapters of the Romance Writer's of America other writing conferences

Internation Women's Writing Guild, past associate member American Society of Journalists and Authors

Books for New Horizon Press. NJ; Franklin Watts (Now Scolastic)Danbury, CT; Avon Books, NYC; and, Random House, NYC

B.A in Economics from the University of Connecticut

Past/Present clients
Carren Strock, author Married Women Who Love Women; Doris Larson, travel writer, Ohio; MaryLou Streznewsi author Gifted Grownups.

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