I know I’m showing my age when I say that once upon a time when someone was asked what they liked to read their answer might be non-fiction, such as a biography, or when they said fiction they meant a good mystery, perhaps a biography masquerading as fiction (think A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) or even a good romance. We didn’t necessarily describe these as genres but that’s what we were talking about. We just said what we were reading and didn’t go the extra step of identifying the genre.
These days not only do we have many more genres, but we have a plethora of subgenres as well, not to mention categories such as age. Oh, I forgot to mention format such as a graphic novel.
I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say that a big part of this categorizing, “genre-ing” and sub “genre-ing” came from sales people trying to distinguish their product – in other words the books that their publishers/bosses produced – from their competition. Librarians and booksellers also wanted a way to classify books for shelving purposes but it’s really sales and marketing staff that set so many of the labels that are placed on not only books but pretty much any product these days.
No sooner did we come to understand what the category of Young Adult, or YA, meant then suddenly we had the category of New Adult – so that would be NA? Ooops, NA always meant non-applicable to me. Anyway, it is NA and it’s a developing category for ages 18-25.
Now the idea of a genre in music and art is nothing new and in fact the idea of genres in literature itself can be traced back to Plato and Aristotle, but this whole genre thing in fiction, especially pop-fiction is relatively new, at least in my experience, and has become an incredibly useful tool to sell books regardless of format.
When you hear the word thriller or romantic suspense, you the reader, usually have a certain expectation of what you at least hope to experience when you read a book that falls into one or both of these subgenres. Unfortunately, this can also work against a writer, especially if the writer ends up being incorrectly classified by genre or subgenre. This is why authors should be extremely grateful to all librarians and booksellers because these wonderful people know how to help readers find the books they want to read, even if the author is incorrectly classified.
The topic of this blog was inspired by an article I read in USAToday addressing the next issue of the next big young adult subgenre. Here’s the link:
You might also want to check out the following link: