How do I know my genre?!?!

So, a L-O-N-G time ago I posted about the novel I’d finished writing, and had this super awesome list of things I was going to do next.  Then life happened and the list items didn’t all ticked off.  Sometimes I find I need a deadline or a reason to motivate me, so I signed up for a Writer’s Digest Bootcamp to have my first ten pages and query letter critiqued by an agent.

The first thing I learned, that got my heart pounding, was that I had to define my genre.   This was #6 on my list from August.   Even back then I knew I couldn’t pick an agent until I completed this step, because agents specialize in certain genres, and I needed to pick an agent to review the first 10 pages of my novel and my query letter.  Oh no.

I’d heard lots of advice.  Figure out the genre of comparable novels and that will tell you your genre.  Okay, I’ve got a list of comparable novels, but my google searches of “Dark Tower genre” led to no useful results.  I looked on Amazon, but there are so many words on an Amazon page that I wasn’t sure what the genre was, because there was nothing that said “Hey newbie writer, here’s the genre!”

However, after searching like crazy, and even buying an awesome poster from Pop Chart Lab on “A Plotting of Fiction Genres” and hanging it up in my study – looking gorgeous but not helpful – I finally found a resource that makes sense to me: The Book Country Genre Map.  This is an amazing, AMAZING site.  I was quickly able to drill down into both Science Fiction and Fantasy and see how each genre was defined and what subgenres exist.  I’ve pegged my novel as a contemporary fantasy subgenre (I think), but definitely in the genre of fantasy.  Now, I may be totally wrong, but at least now I have the vocabulary I need so when I look at the Amazon site and see  Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Epic under The Gunslinger, by Stephen King, I can translate it to Genre: Epic Fantasy.  Sadly, I put this as one of my comparable titles, but I’m not epic fantasy.  Thankfully this boot camp is a chance for me to make mistakes and learn from them so when I go to query agents with a completed novel I’ll know better.

I have to admit, I’m loving this aspect of moving my book to the next stage.  There is so much about this publishing world that I don’t know and it’s fascinating learning the lingo, the rules and the processes.  It’s so different than my day job, but there are really interesting parallels.

Item #6?  Done, and will help me finish #5, #7, and #8!  Now I really need to get motivated to make a big push on the second draft so I can have someone other than me read this thing!