Don’t Pigeon Hole Me: Genre? What Genre?

Screenshot 2015-01-07 12.54.17Genre. What do you write?


No, WHAT do you write? What kind of books?

Currently, I’m working on a techno-thriller/science thriller. It’s the sequel to The Esau Emergence. It’s about genetic engineering and stem cell research.

My pitch line? It’s an action thriller about the consequences of a bioweapon attack and recombinant DNA engineering.

My blurb? It’s an edge of your seat, science thriller in the style of Michael Crichton about the complex world of genetic engineering and the possibilities of stem cell science.

Yes, I do write thrillers, but I also have a murder mystery in the works. No, my next project, after this trilogy, is a novel about Hell. No, it’s not a thriller. It’s a literary novel about the larger question of free will and morality. I also have a SciFi/Fantasy trilogy started. I guess if you need a description, it might be dystopian, but it’s more of an alternate reality.

I realize I need to keep my audience. I know they might not enjoy it if I change genres. Yes, I understand Janet Evanovich wrote twenty-two Plum novels.

This exchange should be familiar to anyone who has pitched a novel to an agent. There are hundreds of discussions of genre. Pick one of the 248,000,000 google results. Agents like to sell books. Publishers like to sell books. The common thread in every discussion I’ve had about marketability is about keeping an audience. It’s why there were three Hang Over movies when there shouldn’t have been. Repeat business.

Here’s my problem. I would love to be a best selling author. I’m looking forward to the day my book sales generate a living wage. I don’t have anything against authors who write in a single genre. Evanovich is making millions even if I think her Stephanie Plum series lost its oomph ten books ago. My problem? In the creative writing folder on my computer, I have ( just counted) eleven projects going. At the moment, I’m working on the Esau Continuum sequel, The Esau Convergence.

Is there a common genre? I would say four of the projects are SciFi/Fantasy. I have two supernatural mysteries, a creative non-fiction memoir, two literary fiction novels, and one straight up crime novel.

Here’s the thing, deciding on a genre for your novel is a dicey prospect. The Beard and I went rounds trying to label the Esau Continuum. Thriller, SciFi Thriller, Medical Thriller, Hard Science Fiction, Mystery Thriller Suspense, Fantasy, Action Adventure. Those are just seven of the genres in which Michael Crichton is categorized.

I understand agents and publishers want repeat customers. I hope I have repeat customers. Don’t box me into one corner. My brain doesn’t work that way. Stories come to me. Maybe not in their entirety, but they do come in a basic shape. I can’t change the character of a story to be certain it’s going to fit neatly on the shelf.

I do know that I’ll write the heck out of those stories and trust someone out there will read them.

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