Current Project: A ST. PATRICK'S DAY TALE
Status: Planning a release booksigning!
Thanks to Paty for her statement in Wednesday's blog that triggered the idea for this post. She said, "My struggle is trying to promote my books when they are several subgenres."
Is labeling a book with a specific subgenre a great marketing tool that lets readers know exactly what they are picking up? Or does labeling do a disservice to both our book and potential readers?
I could argue both sides of that question.
Perhaps you've heard of studies where young students were randomly divided into groups labeled "smart" and "slow." The labels had nothing to do with the intelligence or knowledge of the students, that's just the label the teachers were given. Lo and behold, by the end of the school year, the "smart" students were performing above grade level, and the "slow" students had fallen below standards. Seems the labels "smart" and "slow" set up expectations of these students, and they lived up (or down) to these labels.
At this point, you might be thinking we SHOULD label our books as "smart," "hot," "action-packed," or whatever is the latest trend is to attract more readers.
On the other hand, maybe we shouldn't try to label our books down to the subgenre of the subgenre, as this may turn away some readers. Maybe we should promote our work under a broad genre and let readers take their own journey of discovery.
Doing this can bring some surprises, as I discovered. One of my books I considered an action romance was purchased by an editor who saw it as a "feel good Christmas story." Later on, this same book was picked up by an erotica reviewer. She loved it and nominated it for best erotic cover. Though I was delighted the subject matter of the story resonated deeply with her, I was also a little baffled she labeled it "erotica" as there was no love scene until near the end of the story and a teddy bear graced the cover. Each of us brought our own life experiences and made our own journey of discovery through the pages of that book.
So should we try to label our books or not? You can see that's a trick question--there isn't one answer.
Most of us will write our own query letters or pitches or do our own marketing. But don't worry about a label to the point where you freeze on writing your story because it won't "fit" somewhere. Write that fantastic book and then look for a unique angle to approach an agent or editor, or to launch a marketing campaign.
Your creative mind can write three hundred pages of a story. It can also come up with a few brilliantly descriptive sentences to bring that story to readers. That's part of the fun!
Want to try it? Come up with two or three marketing angles for your work in progress or a favorite book by someone else.
I'll give you my example in a comment…