Genre Wars Part 4 Genres, Sub Genres and Categories?

I'm not sure now if we should have titled this a war or not but it is really making me scratch my head. We got a couple very good comments on parts 1 and 2 then Sheri blows in from the TO trying to smoke us both. Nicola O. commented in part, "I've seen them used mostly interchangeably and to me it would be splitting hairs to insist on a hard/fast distinction." I will agree and will say how flat out encouraging it is for me to hear how differently people define horror. I wont insist on a definition but it is flat out helpful to hear the variations in interpretation. She also made a comment I will include in my next post because I've said it before. It involves sexy vampires... I won't comment on this one much more- saving it for my next installment. MJ take it away. If you need to read it in order, here are the links. part 1 and 2

Guest Post by MJ LaBeff-

I’m baaaaack! I know, I know, how cliché and now you’re probably wondering how I landed this blog gig. I’ve been dying to comment on Gordon’s and Sheri’s incredibly insightful posts, but they cyber crazy glued my lips together. Imagine how much I have to say now? Fear not, I’m going to keep this short and to the point. I’ll try to anyway.

Genres, Subgenres and what the heck's a category?

In our effort to determine the differences between the genres of horror, paranormal and supernatural I think we might have confused things just a little. Okay, maybe a lot depending upon whom you ask, but I think we're getting closer. Anthony V. Pugliese commented that horror has “shock value”. I fully agree.

So if horror provides shock value, how is it that Amazon lists paranormal as a category within the horror genre and beneath the paranormal category it lists supernatural? My guess is that since neither paranormal nor supernatural is considered a genre it falls a bit logically under the Horror genre. Both words connote the idea of something scary or unexplainable. What’s still puzzling though is this: what about all of the good witches, werewolves and vampires in books or the psychics who maintain the balance of good versus evil?

Hmmm, maybe this is where all of those subgenres Gordon mentioned fit in- which if you ask me, seemed more like categories! Read part 2 of genre wars and let me know what you think. I’d really like to know. This makes more sense to me: Genre>Horror Subgenre>Paranormal Categories under paranormal- Gore and Disturbing, Psychological, Killer, Monsters, Zombie OR Subgenre> Supernatural Categories under supernatural- Ghosts and Spirits, Haunted House, Possession, Devil and Demon, Witches and Occult. However, this is not the case. Again, check out part 2 of the blog.

After analyzing Gordon’s post I decided my novel Mind Games which is listed on Amazon under the Thriller, Mystery, Suspense genres could quite possibly fit within the horror genre. Without boring you to tears, let me take a step back and explain. I had a hard time choosing a genre for Mind Games. It's a mystery. It’s suspense. It's romantic suspense- but hold on because often in romantic suspense the hero looks mighty suspicious and mine does not. I hadn’t really considered it a thriller but several reviewers have- now that’s interesting because in a thriller you don't know who did it. Mind Games is thrilling, but you have a strong indication of who the killer is and are reading to find out if the hero and heroine can put enough evidence together to catch him. I’ve also had readers comment that the story scared them and a friend said to me and I quote, “I didn’t know you liked horror?” Did I mention my heroine is having haunting visions and seeing a ghost? So let’s give Mind Games a new genre- horror and subgenre- supernatural and category of ghosts and spirits. It could quite possibly work. I’m curious enough that I’m going to call the nice folks at Amazon and have them help me with this. Did you know you can request a call from them? Yep, and they will call you back within minutes! Very cool and helpful.

You’re in the big house?! 

It’s the wild, wild, west out there when it comes to blending genres as Sheri discussed in part 3 of genre wars. Her comments really hit home for me. For years I had tried to find a literary agent- almost landed one for Mind Games. Could genre have been what hurt me from securing representation? Perhaps. Take Sheri's post to heart if you want to go the traditional publishing route. It's important. When I queried the Last Cold Case series, as the name might imply the books are suspense/thrillers. I nailed genre. How do I know this- my editor emailed me and said, "I've been looking for a book like this."

A publisher is a great asset to have depending upon your publishing goals, but you the author still need to choose a genre. Sheri provides some great help and advice in part 3.

I'm going to play devil's advocate here just to keep things confusing, I mean interesting. First, I should let you know I have never been signed with a big publishing house. I’m talking the Simon and Schuster and Hachette Book Group and Penguin houses of the world and so on. Second, Sheri's comments echo those I've heard from other authors. But… Come on, you knew there was a but coming. The big publishing houses handle placing your book in the right genre, subgenre, category and even keywords. The question becomes: is that enough to lure you to searching for a literary agent who can shop your book to the big publishing house(s). Isn't that funny? Do you want your book to end up in the big house? Enough kidding. This is serious business.

It’s as Sheri said, if your books are flying off shelves and you’ve become the next (fill in the blank) sensation the big house will come after you! But, yep, there is another but coming- if you’re not the next sensation and want to go to the big house you will need a literary agent. You’ll also need a great story, query letter and synopsis. You will be busy. Trust me. Oh, and you’ll need to know what genre your book is in- don’t forget to include the word count too.

 You've put your blood, sweat and tears into writing the best novel ever. Don't let it languish in the wrong genre or the land of mad algorithms. If you have beta readers ask them for their opinions. If your book has already been released read the reviews. A reviewer’s comments might provide insight to genre, subgenre, category and key words. There's the benefit of self-publishing. You keep all creative control and can change these areas as your heart desires. However, there are advantages to working with smaller presses and e-publishers but only you can decide.

My advice- just write! 

Enough from me- what say you?

Please leave us a comment. We’re really interested in exploring more about genre wars. Tell us about your experience choosing a genre. If your book is listed in horror, why? How did you come to that conclusion? If you write paranormal, what genre is your book in- romance, thriller, sci-fi? How about those writing supernatural? Are you in the horror genre? It’s great to hear from fellow writers and readers. I’d be curious to hear from readers to find out what your expectations are when you pick up a horror, paranormal or supernatural book. Gotta be honest, I’m having my doubts about putting Mind Games in horror…

Thanks for including me in the discussion Gordon and Sheri, wishing you both the very best and continued success with your writing careers. I’m looking forward to reading your next book! part 1 and 2

 Mind Games
Mind Games
MJ grew up in northeastern Ohio but traded snow for sunshine and moved to southern Arizona over a decade ago where she lives with her husband and two dogs. When not at her day job in the financial services industry, she spends her free time working out, volunteering for the American Cancer Society and writing crime fiction.

She has completed two romantic suspense novels, Mind Games and Haunting Lyric and three books in a suspense/thriller series, Last Summer’s Evil, Last Fall’s Hunted and Last Winter’s Taken. Currently, she is writing Last Spring’s Stranger, the final book in the Last Cold Case series. She signed the series with Muse It Up Publishing. Last Summer’s Evil is scheduled to release fall/winter 2016. Last Fall’s Hunted is scheduled to release Spring 2017. Check back for future release dates in the Last Cold Case series.