Readers tend to find books by genre. This leads to certain expectations. Romances have beautiful women and bare-chested men. Fantasy has horses and swords. Horror is dark and mysterious, thrillers have blood, and urban fantasy has some chick wielding magic or outdated weapons. We expect this. We think nothing of it, until the cover is for the wrong genre.
Imagine a military suspense with some bare-chested man and nothing else. How about a romance with a blood-splattered cover? Yeah, you see what I mean.
So, what about those crossovers? Not only is cover art hard to figure out, but so is finding the right home. From review sites to which shelf to use, it’s maddening for the author and publishing company. And here’s where the problem lies. I do this… a lot.
One More Day is probably my easiest book to categorize. When We Were Kings and When We Were Dancing aren’t that much worse. One romance and two low fantasy novels. Now, the novels I have in the works? Oh my!
Challenge Accepted is a story of a girl-gamer trying to break into the professional scene while fighting the sexism she sees in the industry. It has traits of romance, drama, contemporary fiction, and a touch of thriller (but just a touch). It’s not more of any one than the others, though. This is NOT a true romance. There’s a happy for now ending, a love story that moves through it (and is very much not traditional) and a few other standards, but that’s more like a heavy subplot, and not the main story line. Rather, it’s about Riley Andrews, and her struggles to stop sabotaging her place in life, while still succeeding. It’s a coming of age story, for a very headstrong woman who’s had more crap thrown at her than anyone deserves. It’s inspirational, based on the idea of getting knocked down seven times and standing up either. It’s not really romance, but it sure as hell isn’t literary. There’s way too much cussing… and video games.
The next book, BloodLust, is about an indigenous species of humanoids in a world where humans have lived for more than three thousand years. There’s specism (because they aren’t a race), discrimination, military, fantasy, and on and on. It has a romantic story arc (or two) but those aren’t the story. It has magic – that is all science based. It reads more like fantasy than science fiction, but in reality, it’s more science fiction than fantasy. Thankfully, there’s a category for this.
And then I look at the rest of my backlist. Oh. My. God. Seems I never stopped to worry about genre before. I’m having a momentary panic about how to classify these books so my audience can find them. That’s all that matters. No one cares about why I chose to write the way I did, they just want a good story that they can find to enjoy. Talk about some serious pressure for an indie author!