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What I Now Know About Genres

Florence Witkop

I hate genres. I hate the smallness of them, the way they narrow and limit what I've written. I don't like to think of genres when I write stories and I don't like the way someone else stuffs those stories into boxes they weren't meant to fit into. To be honest, I prefer that my work not be stuffed into any box at all, large, small or in-between and maybe that's really why I hate genres. Simply because they exist.

But they do exist for a couple of reasons that are so important that they have turned me into a devoted fan, kicking, screaming and complaining all the while.

The first reason has to do with readers. Faced with an overwhelming number of books to peruse in order to find the perfect one, they narrow their choices by considering only those books most likely to fit their requirements. In other words, they browse books according to genre. Feel romantic? Don't look for a horror story. Skip right to the romance section. And so on.

The second reason has to do with publishers. Genres are, to put it bluntly, the most effective tool in any publisher's toolbox and I'm all for any gizmo, gadget or tool that will help them sell my books efficiently, fast, and in great quantities so we can both get rich. Including categorizing books by genre because the better a story fits into an already-existing genre, the easier it is for publishers to get it out and readers to find it, a lesson I learned the hard way when I started self-pubbing.

As a beginning writer, I sent manuscripts to confession magazines. I read their guidelines and as long as I followed them, my stories sold … and sold … and sold. Dozens. Hundreds. Many hundreds.

Then I switched to the electronic market and self-pubbed my books. No guidelines necessary. Yeah!!! I wrote whatever I chose and enjoyed it thoroughly. What I wrote was good stuff and my few readers gushed with praise.

Few because though the writing was easy, the marketing wasn't! One reviewer commented that my work crosses many genres and does so beautifully. But in an over-crowded market it's difficult to call attention to a story that can't be categorized and, therefore, must compete with all the other books out there instead of just ones that are similar.

Now when I put a story together, I think ahead. I consider what genre this story most closely resembles and as I write I keep the guide-lines of that particular genre in mind. This one thing makes marketing the completed book much, much easier while also making it easier for readers to find my latest masterpiece. I like it when people actually read my work. It's why I became a writer.

About the Author

Veteran romance writer Florence Witkop was born in the city and has lived in the suburbs, the country and the wilderness where she still lives and writes contemporary, sci/fi and fantasy fiction, with a clean romance always included. At various times she's been a confession writer, a copywriter, a ghost writer and an editor. She writes short stories novellas and novels.

Get her books:

Novel links:

Spirit Legend

Wanted Sharpshooter

When Dreams Do Come True

Short story links:

The Eye of The Universe (sci-fi romance)

Why Birds Fly (children's 'creation' legend)

Down From the Mountain (dystopian)


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