Thursday, July 1, 2010

Can you say 'Genre' with a British accent?

The majority of advice I've seen on how to decide what genre you write in is to look at the shelves in a bookstore or library and see where your book would fit. Generally, I think that's pretty clear advice.

Right up until today. I just got back from the library in the small Scottish town where I am staying on vacation. And the shelving system completely threw me off. Here were the categories for fiction:
  • Family Saga (large sweeping romances and ???)
  • Modern Woman (mostly chick lit, but also narrative memoir, misery memoirs, some romance, some historical -- got a bit confusing)
  • Modern Man (lad lit? Crime, suspense, thriller -- lots of crossover)
  • Crime (duh, yeah, can't get confused here)
  • Adventure (covered both suspense and thrillers)
  • Unknown (this is paranormal and included both fiction and non-fiction)
  • Teen (YA, graphic novels)
  • Sci Fi (this included fantasy)
  • Romance (strictly Mills and Boon, which is the UK version of Harlequin - think small paperback)
  • General Fiction (historical, literary, classics)
I had to ask the librarian how they decided where to put things if it crossed over (such as a YA book about vampires, which incidently were in Unknown, not Teen). She told me that it often came down to who was shelving the book. If there were two copies of a book, they would split them and put one in each area. So something like Michael Crichton would go in both Modern Man and Adventure. Anything they had trouble identifying went into General Fiction (the leftover section, if you will).

Based on these categories, where would you put your book?


  1. One thing that makes me hesitant is that everything YA can potentially "cross over" to another genre, because one usually qualify YA with a subgenre, i.e. fantasy, paranormal, contemporary, etc.

    Mine would definitely be in Teen, but perhaps cross over to Sci-Fi as well. :)

  2. I'm glad historicals tend to be easy- they're always in the general fiction section. That said, it's also a pain to find one if I'm just browsing as they're all mixed in.

    Hope you're having a great time! I'm off to Greece next week!

  3. Since my fiction here is considered women's fiction, or commercial fiction, I'd go with Modern Woman. It's interesting how the genres vary, yet there's still that similarity among them too!