Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My Genre

It's important for an author to find their genre. Not from a writing standpoint, but from a publishing standpoint. If a publisher can't market a book, they won't publish it. It's a business thing. So authors are encouraged to find their genre.

The trouble is there are hundreds of genres and subgenres. Miss Snark, the leading Agent-blogger, says that 25% of the authors who query her (ask her to read their stuff) don't know their genre at all and label it wrong. 25% more get the general genre but not the subgenre. So half of us don't know what we're doing. lists genres with this (paraphrased) introduction: It's an easy question to answer for some people. Like "Where are you from?" If you've always lived in Ohio, that's not a problem. But if you were born in Indiana, grew up in California, live in Wisconsin, and work in Illinois, it's harder to answer.

So I got on AgentQuery again to read their description of genres, and then I furthered my research to include Wikipedia, my favorite online resource, and discovered I do write in a specific single genre. One that started the fantasy genre in 1858 with George MacDonald. They call it "Fairytale Fantasy." And, surprisingly, even my other planned works in the Bookstore Series fit the mold. The next book, as yet untitled, is set in the American West. But it is also set in the world of the American folksong and folklore, just like Poison Spindle is set in the world of Grimm and Andersen folksong and folklore. But the actual story, and the way the characters interact and the conventions of the tale are the same, despite the fact that they are set in the American West (which is, I might mention, the Enchanted Wood of American lore--I might cite "In a cavern in a canyon, excavating for a mine" or "Pecos Bill" or even "Johnny Appleseed.").

So I'm delighted. Now I can find an agent. Further, the genre itself took care of my audience problem. The genre is generally written for this certain unnamed unidentifiable audience of fairytale lovers--written for adults, marketed to Young Adults, but not strictly. LIke the works of Robin McKinley--read most widely by intelligent high school girls, so marketed both to YA and Adult audiences, often in different covers. Or Patricia Wrede--read most widely by smart 9-12th graders and beginning college students (she wrote "Dealing with Dragons," which Beth loved). Also marketed to YA, but not in the "high school drama/relationship drama" way. More in the way that Tolkien is often marketed to YA. But, because the readers are intelligent, the books aren't written with that "high school" or "junior high" feel--they just tell great stories.

Unfortunately, no agents list themselves as covering "Fairytale Fantasy" because its a subgenre. But many of the agents on my lists do both fantasy and YA, so I have a place to start. With a real name for my genre, even if I just go with Fantasy, I have a direction to look.

I also finished the most recent edit of my novel. I ended up cutting out 44,500 words---that's 133 pages. And I think it's better. Most of the cuts were like this: "She lay down on the floor and peeked under the door" became "She peeked under the door." Over and over and over.

Hopefully I didn't ruin it. NOw I have to reread to get out the "edited here" errors--like "he said" twice in one sentence where I edited dialogue. And then....we look for Fantasy agents.

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