Sorting out Genre in Fiction

025915-blue-white-pearl-icon-culture-books3-stacked I posted this elsewhere today, but thought it worth posting here, as well 😉
I think that there is a misconception regarding genre…
Let try metaphor here (my MFA in Scene Design was basically a degree in metaphor. Every. Single. Design. Started. With. A. Metaphor. lol)
Genre is like a focused store, selling one main product… each store and its product represents a genre in fiction. Kitchen supply store, florist, hardware store, dress shop, menswear… each is a Genre.
Let’s liken Mystery to a shoe store. At that macro level, most of your customers have just a couple of things in common. They have feet, and we hope, have the ability to pay for the footwear they want.
But what you are looking for, is not GENRE, but sub-sub-sub–etc-genre.
A parent looking for shoes for her toddler (Cozy Mystery – a sub-genre with other sub-sub-sub-genres — dress-up shoes for a second birthday, sandals for a vacation at the beach, sneakers for running around — as you drill down) is unlikely to also purchase work boots — steel-toed, over the ankle, black workboots (terrorism, slavery and the sex trade, gun running, drug addiction and drug trafficking, etc mystery) that an IATSE stagehand is there to purchase.
If you market the work boots to the parent, sales will likely be few and far between…
Here’s the deal, there *might* be overlap between them – we had Moms in my IATSE local 😉 — but they aren’t a large enough segment of the population to support work boots sales on their own…
Selling work boots to IATSE stagehands, non-union stage hands, roadies etc, starts to get you traction. However, hanging pink Second Birthday balloons over the work boot display likely is a waste of resources.
So, drill down and identify the market that way 😉 Then, look at the packaging that makes sense for those readers/work boot buyers
This is why when I talk genre, i consider the top levels — Mystery, Sci-Fi, Romance, Erotica, etc — to be so large that they ARE meaningless…
This is a common mistake and is one I spend a lot of time clarifying. Metaphor is a useful tool to explain concepts like these 😉
One Response to “Sorting out Genre in Fiction”
  1. Donna says:

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