I didn't know.
And it took me a LONG TIME to figure it out. Granted, I started writing back when internet connections were dial-up and used my phone line, so I wasn't able to jump online and research genres. I just kept on writing my "weird" little book. And when I went to writer's conferences, I struggled over what to say when an editor or agent asked, "So, what genre do you write?"
All they had in common was the "weird" thing--except for the Anne story, but we'll pretend that one doesn't exist for now. I'd been reading and hearing a lot of talk about branding, and I was worried that I was WAY TOO RANDOM. For those who know me or have seen me in person, you know that I am, indeed, quite random. But that wasn't going to help me sell my fiction.
Then, one blessed day, I went to a class called, "What is Speculative Fiction" taught by Jeff Gerke. And I found out that everything I had written, with the exception of the Anne story, was speculative. Know why? Because speculative is another word for "weird." Isn't that awesome that "they" had made a genre just for me? I thought so.
So, when people ask me, "What genre do you write?" I can classify it all under spec fiction for teens. And sometimes I say, "I write weird books for teens." Because non-writers don't tend to know what speculative fiction means.
The thing is, there are SO MANY GENRES out there. And the better job you can do of narrowing your genre into a sub genre, the better chance you have of selling your work and having your work stand out as unique in the market. Why?
If you said, "I write contemporary young adult novels." That can mean a WHOLE lot of things. And saying that doesn't tell the editor or agent very much at all.
But if you said, "I write contemporary novels about teen athletes." That's specific.
So specific is the goal. And if I had the chance to answer that question in front of agents or editors with the books I've written, I'd choose the novel I was hoping to pique their interest in and say:
Replication: "I've written a science fiction/suspense novel for teens about cloning."
New Recruit: "I've written a young adult spy novel with supernatural elements."
Captives: "I've written a young adult dystopian novel that parallels the Babylonian exile from Jerusalem."
To end on, I thought you might find this interesting. If a publisher was to put a book up for sale on Amazon.com, here is the list of categories under adult fiction. You only get to choose TWO to classify your book under. Kind of seems unfair, huh?
And I posted the one for juvenile fiction as well, but it was SO LONG that it would have taken up a week's worth of space on Go Teen Writers, so I posted in on a hidden page on my website in case you want to see all of it. And note: young adult or teen fiction falls under the category of juvenile fiction for most online stores. Here is the link to the Amazon.com juvenile fiction list.
And below is the adult fiction list of categories.
So, what's your genre? Give it to me like I gave it to you in the end.
Ex: "I've written a science fiction/suspense novel for teens about cloning."
· Action & Adventure
· African American
Mystery & Detective
· Alternative History
Classic & Allegory
· Coming of Age
· Contemporary Women
· Cultural Heritage
· Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
· Family Life
· Media Tie-In
· Men's Adventure
· Mystery & Detective
· Occult & Supernatural
· Science Fiction
· Sea Stories
· Short Stories
· Urban Life
· Visionary & Metaphysical
· War & Military