Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Readers Don't Care About

Genre. 

Seriously. I talk to people who like to read, but aren't writers about stuff like dystopian, thriller, steampunk, paranormal romance and all I get back are blank stares. What are you even talking about?

I asked a question on my Facebook page about which speculative fiction genres people liked best. I listed all sorts of stuff like space opera, epic fantasy, hard science fiction, etc. No one answered.

I wondered if it hadn't shown up in the newsfeed or something. My son pointed out that he didn't understand the question, or the answers (and he's a pretty smart guy). Oh. Hadn't thought of that.

Sure, people understand the big categories romance, mystery, historical, science fiction, etc. But they don't really care about the labels we writers are so anxious to give our work. They just want to read the books they like to read. At least that's been my experience.

Of course, we need to care about what genre we're writing and what the audience expectations are for that genre and stuff like that. But when it comes to interacting with readers, remember what they really want is a good book.  Don't pigeonhole yourself too much. You never know who might pick up your book and decide that's the kind of thing they like to read, even if they've never read anything like it before.

And isn't that just what we're after?

17 comments:

Alexandra Shostak said...

Yes, I've noticed this, too. When people ask me what I write, I just reply 'fantasy' because when I used to get more specific (dark fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk fantasy) people got confused and I'd have to launch into a sub-genre explanation that nobody really cared about. Sometimes I don't even say 'Young Adult' because, surprisingly or not, a lot of people aren't really aware that there's a separate genre for teenagers.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Agreed! I would love to have my writing not get too over-labeled, and I certainly hope that I'll never have my writing typecast - of course that's making the big assumption that I'll get published, and published more than once . . . (grin) sometimes I take myself way too seriously.

Jaime Theler said...

This is so true! Most readers don't care so much about sub-genres as about a good book. Ultimately that's what we need to focus on.

Angie said...

I know, Alexandra. YA is so huge, but people don't really know it has a label.

Tyrean, you should keep taking yourself seriously. You will get there!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Today I just found the opposite, actually, that one reader seemed to really dislike my book because it was marketed as a thriller and really didn't strike them as a thriller. Go figure.

Carolyn V said...

I agree. I think a good book is better than what you call it. ;)

Jane Isfeld Still said...

I have to confess I do get confused about the genres within genres.
I write humor plain and simple. Or is it? Even with humor there are plenty of types. I an only say mine is clean and fuuny :)

RaShelle Workman said...

Angie - Great post. My book is sci fi romance. I've raised a few eyebrows with that. Do romance and sci fi mix? Why, yes. Yes they do. LOL!

Brianna said...

Great point!

Rochelle said...

As much as we humans like to have everything categorized and packed in neat boxes, sometimes we also just like to not have to worry about the details. I've been a bookwork all my life, and all I really care about is if the book is good or not.
Don't judge a book by its genre. :)

Angie said...

True, Rochelle. Very true! Thanks for coming by!

Sophia Chang said...

AGREE, but of course I do - I'm not surprised after reading your comment on my ninja guest post :) It's absolutely private!

dellgirl said...

Good point, you explained that well. As a reader, I just want to read a good/great story, book, novel...whatever. As a writer, I don't want to be over labeled either. Thanks for the POV.

Angie said...

Thank you, Sophia. I enjoyed your post. Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you, too, Dellgirl. I always love to see your comments!

CL Beck, author said...

I totally agree. As you pointed out, readers might know major classifications, but for the most part, they don't care a hoot about genres. They just read what seems good to them.

Jolene Perry said...

I forget how much I like your blog when I don't come by for SO long.

Yeah, most people I know only go by basic categories, and don't really pick something up b/c of a genre.

Also - I write a lot of romance, and what everyone thinks of first is the covers with half-naked people on them, and I have to correct and say no, no, no, it just means that the love story is the MAIN part of the story, that's all.

SO, even our definitions as writers and as readers are different.

Jacqueline Howett said...

Interesting isn't it? Good advice!

Nice post!