Think You Know What Your Book is About? Think Again.

Moonday Madness

a blog for writers by a writer

What is your genre? What sells to your readers? How do you know?

One of the issues facing authors today is that we have the burden of much of the marketing of our product. Since many of us are not marketing majors, this can be a huge handicap. We need to find out who is reading our book and what they think our book is about before marketing it.

Little Red Riding Wolf by Jessica Aspen

Little Red Riding Wolf

For instance, my books are… well… hot. Spicy hot.

If you open Little Red Riding Wolf (on sale at Passion in Print for $3.99), or Snow and the Seventh Wolf you need to be prepared for sex. But does that mean I shouldn’t market it under paranormal? Can I enter it in the paranormal category of the romance contests, or do I need to stick to the erotic? Is it fair to say that the heat level is the most important part of the book?

Well the truth is, it’s not up to me. It’s up to the readers. They are the ones looking for books like mine and if they are looking in erotic and I market it only under paranormal, it’s going to get missed. And vice versa. What if the readers think it’s something else, like chick lit? Are they right?

Or is it that I’ve done a poor job of marketing?This is why you’ll see a big change in my covers. I was able to request a spicer cover for the second book in the Twisted Tales: Come Into the Woods series Not that they didn’t offer spicy for the last one, but that’s another story.

Snow and the Seventh Wolf by Jessica Aspen

Take a look at the cover for Little Red Riding Wolf. Does it say erotic? Nope, I don’t think so. Does it say romance. No, not really. Does it say fairy tale and werewolves. Yes, I think we got that.

Now let’s look at Snow and the Seventh Wolf. Does it say erotic? Yes. Does it say romance? Yes.
Does it say fairytale and werewolves. No, not so much. It’s tough to get it all right.

Luckily my titles help. Little Red Riding Wolf says twisted fairy tale, and I hope Snow and the Seventh Wolf does too.

But how about your books? Do you know what genre they fall into?

This question came up this week as I was communicating with another author. She sees the word paranormal as meaning ghosts. A lot of people do. When I hear paranormal, I think of all kinds of things including psychics, ghosts, and supernatural creatures. But what  do readers think? When someone walks into a bookstore (or into the e-store) how do they know what to search for and how can they find your book. If you’ve tagged it as paranormal, but it’s really horror, will that help your readers find your book?

The key is to first know what others think your book is. Have people read it and let you know. Oh yeah, it’s paranormal romance. or Oh yeah, this is so hot, you’d better market it under erotic. or No, you are better off under the horror label, or women’s fiction, or YA. 

Others see our work much more clearly than we do. They are not bound by our preconceptions of what we intended when we wrote the book. They are more in touch with what readers will see.

Another good way to figure out how to label your book is to find other authors who have similar books. Is your book more like Stephen King? Or more like Sherrilyn Kenyon? Is it romance like Thea Harrison? or is it urban fantasy like Jeanne Stein? Find three authors who are similar to you in the same category and that is likely to be your category. Having trouble with this? Ask your friends who read the book. Use a survey and poll them. They’ll be sure to tell you, friends always do.

Why is any of this important?

You’ve written the book, and it’s either out there on sale, or you are trying to market it to agents and editors. Either way you are selling a product. You need to know who will be interested in that product so you can target your sales efforts. There is no reason or reward in marketing a horror novel to an agent or reader who is only interested in romance. Make sure you have the right audience for your book and the right book for your audience.

And then sell the hell out of it! I expect to see all of you rising stars on the NYT bestseller list any day now. I’m looking for you!

Do you know where your book fits? Does it matter to you? How do you sell it to others if you don’t understand it’s place in the world? What do you do to figure out where it fits?


Filed under Little Red Riding Wolf, Moonday mania, Snow and the Seventh Wolf, writing organization

12 responses to “Think You Know What Your Book is About? Think Again.

  1. I totally get this because I have the same problem. I ended up creating a tag line that says Crime Fiction with a Kiss. But when it comes to knowing where I would place the book on a shelf, I would probably place it under Mystery. My books are a combo of mystery, suspense, and romance. But the romance is more a love story. I very much like your idea of a poll. And it’s good timing before my next book comes out, too. Thanks!

    • Hi Carol,
      I think it can be tough to figure out where to market your book. Especially if it’s a mix of genres. Lots of mysteries have romance, but is it central to the plot? Glad I could help and best of luck with your poll.

  2. Good, common sense advice here, Jessica, and, by the way, you’ve managed to titillate me about Snow! Well done!

  3. Holley Trent

    I estimate that about 80% of my stuff is contemporary, but even then I have a hard time categorizing them because the stories sometimes toe the line between sensual and erotic. And then my paranormal stuff is so damned campy, I feel conflicted when it gets an erotic label. I somehow feel like people looking for an erotic story are going to raise a brow if what they’re reading is too funny. I’m biting my nails about my Santa story. I WISH someone would tell me who my style is similar to because having some clue would make explaining what I write to other people.

    • Why can’t you have campy and hot? Real life is full of humor, or it should be, so why not have it in your bedrooms in your writing? It’s hard sometimes to figure out. I want mine to sell under paranormal, but then it is a tad hotter than the regular books. I think. That is changing fast, so maybe we should just market under paranormal or contemporary. Hopefully your editor can help you out with the marketing too. They should have an idea of where they are going to place it. Hot funny paranormal? Maybe it’s your own genre! 🙂

  4. Good post, Jessica, food for thought. I don’t yet where I’ll market my WIP, I’ll finish my revisions first, lol!

  5. Great topic, Jessica. And, a question I haven’t yet answered for myself.

    If I named authors I love to read, the “voices” that most resemble mine are Crusie and Evanovich. (GAAAAAH! Not a that level though. I am NOT saying I’m the “next one” of either of those.) Cruise for her one-off snorts. Evanovich for the same plus those quirky characters. Crusie labels her earlier books Romantic Comedy. Today? Say Romantic Comedy and people think Chick Lit.

    Chick Lit doesn’t have the steam I write.

    I have suspense threads, but they aren’t strong enough to qualify as Romantic Suspense.

    For now, I go with Contemporary Single Title with heavy humor hits, steam, and suspense threads. How’s that for concise? Not so good, right?

    • What genre are Janet Evanovich titles that are not numbered? She writes other stories besides NJ bond-busters. Those are the books I would look to. They have suspense, romance and comedy. And I like Contemporary Single title with heavy humor hits, steam, and suspense. (I cut out the word threads, because it needs to be backloaded, baby!) I think you have a good idea of what your book is about and where it should be on the shelf. Nestled between Jennifer Crusie and Janet Evanovitch. Take your place!

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