How to Choose the Right Genre for Your Book

03 Jun



Dandelions look all the same …


It can make all the difference… how well your book sells. Readers have to FIND your book to buy it. When consulting clients and checking out their online sales pages, I often find out that they choose only one category, even so they could select two.  And sometimes they even did not bother to choose a category at all …
Genres help to market to traditional publishers
Categorizing your book not only helps you to sharpen its position, but also to market it to publishers. Categorization enables you to send your inquiries to publishers and editors that specialize in your type of book and to mention the category in the first sentence of your query letter. As well as guiding you while writing, categorization also significantly improves your chances of acceptance by a publisher.
Queries to publishers
Before sending out queries to publishers or agents, study carefully which genres they prefer. There is a large list of possible categories to put your book in: the categories that best match your books based on their content. Study carefully each book that is competitive to yours and see in which categories the bestsellers among them are listed. Narrow down your list as much as possible.

Why are the proper categories so important, for example on Amazon?
Without the right categories you may never become a category bestseller and never gain the publicity needed for higher visibility, never be recognized by Amazon’s algorithms which gains you better rankings in the numerous other Amazon Top 100 lists, which in turn gains you higher visibility, higher rankings, which generates more…

Millions of books are being published in the world today.
Categorization of books by topic and content has become an important tool for readers to enable them to choose what they like to read. Readers, booksellers, publishers, and authors alike benefit from category descriptions for books, it is important for authors to determine the best genre or category to identify their book before publishing.
Comprehensive listing of genres can be found on the Internet:
A deep dive into sub-genres can be found at Paul Carlson’s blog post.  Another great list can be found at Wikipedia.

List of fiction genres (but with extensive definitions): (under the “Info for Writers” section). (click on definition and examples)

Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror:

Sub-genres of Romance:


According to Publishers Weekly, the most popular genres in e-book literature are:

  • Literary/Classic
  • Science Fiction
  • Romance
  • Mystery/Detective
  • General Fiction
  • Thriller
  • Young Adult

Yes, they are popular, but never choose the genres, always search in the sub-genres for a suitable category, in order to have less competition and to rise faster and get a better ranking on Amazon in these genres.
Amazon takes you right to a fiction page and the top-selling e-books …
It could take readers forever to find what they are looking for – unless they click on a GENRE link, which is called “Departments” and can be found on the left hand site of the page. However, you have to go to “Books”, clicking on “Kindle” doesn’t show any genres on the first page.
Study carefully each book that is competitive to yours and see in which categories the bestsellers among them are listed. Narrow down your list as much as possible. If your book is available both, in print and as an e-book on Amazon, you can choose four categories (two for print and two for digital) and see in which your book best fares.  Barnes&Noble does something similar, but their GENRE listings are more obvious and on the main page instead of just on a side menu.
It can make all the difference …
On the other hand, publishers often lack to categorize their author’s books in the right sub-category.
I discovered this many times when evaluating our clients books, looking for the best category / sub-category. And it often takes a lot of time and convincing to have a publisher change the subcategory… Self-publishing authors don’t have this problem, they can change anything on their Amazon account in seconds. It can make all the difference, how well a book will sell. And how fast an author will get to the top of a certain category and becomes a bestseller in this category.
Always search for a suitable sub-genre
The Kindle eBooks list is subdivided into numerous fiction and non-fiction lists – with an immense variety of genres and sub-genres and sometimes sub-sub-genres. Some categories, such as Literary Fiction, have no sub-genres, and you need a pretty high Sales Rank to get into the top 100 list – even when your book is free on KDP Select days. Try to avoid Literary Fiction until your book becomes a best seller.
David Gaughran:
“Other categories, like Science Fiction, have several sub-genres. Something like Science
Fiction/Anthologies does not even have 100 books in its category, and you can place on this Bestseller List with any ranking at all (the 62nd book has a ranking of #891,386).”

M. Louisa Locke:
“Careful uses of categories and key-words and tags can also increase your chance of getting on one of the best-seller lists and showing up on one of the “Customers who bought” lists, which in turn will help boost your sales.” Read her fantastic article here.




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2 responses to “How to Choose the Right Genre for Your Book

  1. angel7090695001

    June 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Amazon should allow books to have more categories.

  2. gabe

    June 6, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Phenomenal post. Although you can sometimes show a publisher/agent something they didn’t even know they were looking for.

    Thanks 🙂



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