is classifying my book mandatory ?

by christian


I already posted a question regarding the sagging middle syndrome on another category of this site and again thank you for all the time and work invested in it. Always a pleasure to read the questions and answers that are provided.

I wanted to know if classifying my book was mandatory when I go see a publisher. Will he insist on me telling him what genre my book belongs to? And if after reading my book he decides it belongs to another genre, would he ask I modify it accordingly?
I just want to know why classifying my book is so important basically.

Answer: It's not essential that you pin down exactly which subgenre your book falls into. You probably know the broad category already - for instance, whether it's fiction or nonfiction, YA or adult, and whether it's primarily a work of crime fiction, romance, or fantasy. This much awareness is useful.

For instance, if your book is science fiction, there's no point approaching a publisher or agent who only deals in literary fiction or children's nonfiction. You want to target your submissions to the people most likely to be interested in it.

That said, it should be pretty clear from your query letter what genre of book you have written and who the most likely readers will be. Consequently, you often don't need to mention the genre in your letter.

It's an agent's job to figure out which publishers to approach, and a publisher's job to figure out how to market the book to the right audience. If they feel you've got the wrong label, they're probably right.

An agent or editor would have to strongly believe in some facet of your book to ask you to do a major rewrite. Most of the time if the book isn't pretty damn good, they will pass on it.

So if they do ask for a rewrite, you should take their advice and do it. There may be minor issues you can argue over, because you know what's behind the story better than they do, but they know a lot more about making books that sell. (Of course, you can get a bad editor, but they're rare, especially among the Big 5 publishers, because they generally don't last long in the business.) If your books sell well, you'll gain more credibility with editors and win more battles later on.

Comments for is classifying my book mandatory ?

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Jan 14, 2014
relief ahah
by: Anonymous

thanks a bunch ! i guess i was stressing over nothing then. And you're right i already have an idea of the genre my story would fall into.

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