What Is My Book Genre? A Guide For Authors

POSTED ON Nov 21, 2023

Sarah Rexford

Written by Sarah Rexford

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Asking, “What is a book genre?” or perhaps more specifically, “What is my book genre?” is a key question for writing, publishing, and marketing success. Specific genres often call for certain types of writing or lend well to specific themes. Similarly, your book genre will help inform your book cover design and book positioning in your description, online listing, and ads.

When you can confidently place yourself and your book in a genre or subject, you set yourself apart from many authors who remain unclear on the answer. 

And if you aren't sure of your place as an author,

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Clearly defining your book genre before you begin writing helps you:

  • World build correctly 
  • Choose and write about the correct themes
  • Write age-appropriate stories and dialogues
  • Write genre-appropriate character arcs  
  • Create a compelling book cover design
  • Use the correct keywords on your Amazon KDP listing
  • Select the best Amazon categories
  • Market your book to the correct audience

In this article, I clearly answer the question, what is a book genre, to equip you to succeed in your writing endeavors.

What is MY book genre and why does it matter?

Defining your specific book genre matters for many reasons, most importantly, story integrity and marketing tactics. Many authors don’t know what they are going to write, or they think they’re writing for one genre when they actually write in a completely different genre. 

But if you enjoy what you write, why does it matter to know you’re writing it? Why not just write to your heart’s content without confining yourself to a specific book genres list

Let’s consider fiction for a moment. There are many types of fiction to choose from. If you enjoy keeping readers on the edge of their seats, you will likely choose to write horror or thriller. That said, there is a major difference between horror and thriller. Horror often leans more toward shocking elements, whereas thriller tends to focus on rising tension. 

The genre you choose to write matters because it determines your plot structure, characterization, and marketing campaigns. Appropriate book positioning allows you to reach the right audience and can even help land you on a bestseller list

Tips for finding the genre you belong in

If you’re new to writing or simply want to better answer the question, what is a book genre, these nine tips will help. 

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1. Consider what you like reading 

Take a look at your bookshelf and note which genres you gravitate toward. If you wonder how to tell what genre a book is, simply look at the copyright page or the back cover near the barcode. 

Seasoned authors often encourage writers to read countless books in the genre they like to write. If you regularly read historical romance, you may want to consider writing in this genre.  

2. Think about the plot 

The next factor to consider when asking, what is a genre of a book, is the plot. Consider Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. His plot focuses on taking a magic ring into a fantastical land filled with make-believe characters. This series is by no means historical fiction. In fact, it's an early version of science fiction and fantasy.  

3. Take note of your setting

What is a book genre as it relates to your setting? Waldo Rodriguez’s novel, The Crucible, stars a protagonist dealing with the fate of the world. Rodriguez’s setting alludes to science fiction, his genre of choice. The setting you choose plays a large role in helping you answer the question, what is the book genre of your current work-in-progress?

4. Define your characters

While your characters should feel human and embody characteristics that are relatable, defining their role in the story world helps you answer, what is a book genre?

For instance, Gandalf fulfills the trope of the wise sage or mentor figure. However, he does so by using magic. This singular characteristic helps readers determine the genre of this famous series. 

5. Asses the audience you like to write for

What type of readers do you love to engage with? Where do you find yourself spending time online? Following nonfiction authors and chatting with people who read inspirational nonfiction? Do you lean toward young adult audiences who love dystopia?

Which type of audience do you hope to influence, entertain, and inspire? 

Answering the above will help you determine what is a book genre you should focus on writing.

6. Use writing prompts to see what flows the best

Writing prompts aid authors in starting their writing journey. Sometimes a sentence, or even a fragment, is all you need to launch into your writing career. If you wonder what is a book genre you would enjoy writing, choose three or four prompts. 

Choose a different genre each time. See which genre you naturally write best, and discard the ones that stump you. 

7. Look at your world building 

Some authors thrive creating worlds and entire histories from scratch. For them, answering “what is a book genre I love to write” is simple: science fiction, high fantasy and low fantasy, dystopia, adventure etc. 

If you don’t enjoy world building as much as you do characterization, you may want to choose a genre that you can research instead of create. This leads into tip number eight.

8. Determine your desired research level 

My sophomore year of high school I decided to challenge myself to write a full-length novel. My writing friend encouraged me to write fantasy so I could focus on the writing rather than lose myself in research. 

If you love research, choosing one of the following genres may benefit you:

For instance, if you set your romance during the 16th century, you will need to conduct quite a bit of research (fashion, cultural norms, etc.). Crime novels include research of a different sort. How do you approach a crime scene? What legal steps will your characters need to take? How will you solve the crime in a believable way? 

Answering these questions will demand dedicated research. Tip: make sure you don't get so lost in research you forget to write the story!

9. Pay attention to your brand 

Today’s authors must create at least some form of online presence to promote their books. Before answering, what is a book genre I should write, look at your current online presence. If your website and social media is a hub where you share business tips, you may want to write a sub-genre in nonfiction.  

If you regularly write and post about your favorite science fiction authors, consider writing in this genre. 

Of course, if you find the history of the United States fascinating, you may want to try your hand at historical fiction set in the early days of America.

Take your next step today

You can now answer, what is a book genre, and know why this question matters. Now it's time to discover your own author DNA! Take the short quiz below to find out who your author twin is. Once you look at your results, consider reading several of their most famous works. What is a book genre they write most?

Identifying with the writing style and genre of a famous author helps you understand your own writing goals at a deeper level.

Whether you find out that your author twin is Stephen King or Margaret Atwood, educating yourself on their writing will help you take your own to an entirely new level. Take the quiz today and level-up your writing!

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