Guest Post: When is Self-Publishing Right for you? by Angelita Williams

More books are now self-published than are published the old-fashioned way. However, most of these fall into the “long tail” category, and the marketing muscle of the traditional houses is still the best guarantee of a top seller. Traditional publishing still may be a realistic or desirable option for your books, or it may not. Some types of titles are naturally better for self-publishing. Others fit well enough into well-established market niches that a company might be glad to take them on. Whatever the case, let’s take a look at a handful of the genres and situations that are most conducive to the self-publishing approach:

1. Niche nonfiction

Is your book strictly for snail collectors? War of 1812 buffs? Gay albinos? Then self-publishing is almost certainly the way to go. Reaching micro-targeted constituencies will require a different type of marketing, largely internet-based, one that the gigantic dinosaurs of the industry haven’t figure out how to do particularly well anyway. But if you can reach the other 2,000 people who are interested in your topic, you’re golden.

2. Romance

Romance readers are the most voracious readers alive, in terms of volume. I’ve known some who read two books a day. They’re willing to try new writers, new publishers, or no publisher at all, as long as you deliver on the conventions of the genre. Obviously, this sector has taken a big leap lately, exemplifying the future of publishing with 50 Shades. While the crossover appeal that all the publishers are cashing in on may fade, this audience will always be there.

3. Regional titles

Let’s face it: Big Publishing has an insular New York attitude. If your book’s primary appeal is going to be to people in your own area anyway, there’s not really much reason to focus on landing that national publishing deal. This will be on you — to get the community’s attention and spread awareness of what you have to offer — but as with the niche hobby subjects, that crowd is there for you, if you can reach it (but in this case, more in-person and through local media).

4. Poetry

Many great poets have self-published over the centuries. Poetry often appeals to a niche crowd of literati who have no use for mass opinion or marketing, but know the good stuff when they read it, and its reputation spreads by word of mouth. Because there’s little commercial potential to begin with, there isn’t as much stigma attached to self-publishing among poets the way there is in literary fiction.

Those are just a few of the most promising scenarios for self-publishing, but there are many more, from paranormal thrillers to technical textbooks. Ultimately, it comes down to making a strategic choice regarding what’s best for your work and how you want it to be distributed. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous rejection letters, or to take arms against a sea of traditional publishers and by opposing, end them…that, as the man said, is the question.


Angelita Williams is a freelance writer and education enthusiast who frequently contributes to She strives to instruct her readers and enrich their lives and welcomes you to contact her at if you have any questions or comments.



Guest Post: Thinking Out of the Box – Gear Up your Freelancing Career by Ana Thames

Freelancing jobs are a good way to help individuals earn from their home. They might come as a necessity for the ones who cannot go out and work in the actual work places or can be an added option to earn the extra bucks in leisure time. Huge freelance options are available with many fields, whether it is finance, IT, literature or any other arts related field, research and development of many possible areas. Freelancing jobs also pay well and there are many in the world who take freelancing as their full-time careers.

If you wish to take freelance assignments as well, all you need is a good resume directed towards freelancing. You might very well know that resumes play a very important role in getting an interview call in a traditional job offer. In freelancing, the right resume will help you in getting you noticed by prospective job-providers, so that you would be contacted to discuss further proceedings. A bad resume would not even help you get noticed and so it is necessary that your resume is directed towards your goal of getting noticed in the eyes of prospective employers.

Other than the common requirements of a resume in general, like making it precise, direct, clear, putting all the necessary information but still keeping it short, avoiding grammatical mistakes, using simple language and other well-known facts, a freelancer resume should especially stand out strong on some specific fronts. These areas are the keyword density in the resume, your skills section, prior experiences section and the file format you are using to create the resume.

Following are some tips and tricks that can help you to make a strong resume, basically concentrating on these important areas and helping you in achieving your freelancing job aspirations:

  • Make it keyword oriented: Putting in the right keywords would help the resume surface over the keyword filtering search engines mostly adapted by job seekers these days. Having the right keywords is as important as putting skills and responsibilities in resumes; just as they grab the attention of the hiring manager, keywords grab attention of the software that can filter in or filter out your resume.
  • Use a standard file format: Make sure to use a file format that is supported by all operating systems over the world, so that you resume is readable. If the operating system that supports the file format of your resume is not available with the prospective employer, you would lose that chance, as simple as that.
  • Exemplify your job specific skills: Demonstrate the essential job related skills you possess and the educational qualifications that have helped you gain them. You can also mention any other licenses or certificates you have to make the recruiters understand that you educationally qualify for the applied job.
  • Mention prior experiences: Any prior experiences, full-time, part-time or freelance should be mentioned. They show that you have the working knowledge of the field where the job is being aspired.


Author Bio: Ana Thames is a career counselor and loves writing. It’s her hobby and passion. You can view career tips with resume samples and interview tips at

My interests

Sex Sells, But…

I write romance and erotic romance, it’s how I hope to make my money. But I didn’t choose this genre because of the possible money aspect. I actually fell into it when I agreed to co-author a romance novel with a writer friend. I found I loved it and I had a knack for writing romance. I didn’t find the sex scenes the least bit embarrassing or awkward to write. But that’s not everyone.

Just because sex sells, it doesn’t mean that you should write it. I’ve noticed in the 14 years that I’ve been studying the market that the best sex scenes work when the author is comfortable with their writing, but not every novel needs sex to float. I’ve read books were the sex scenes were awful and added nothing to the story. You tell it was placed in there just to sale the book.  Take out the sex and the book would have done great without, probably would have been a better book.

In this day and age sex is more open and sought after by readers, but not all readers. There are those readers who prefer clean fiction-whether that be romance or paranormal fiction. Sex might sale and sale good, but if you are not one of those comfortable writing sex scenes and describing all the “dirty” details, then why should you. There are readers out there that are not comfortable reading about sex.

I have an author friend who started out writing clean romances, found she was missing something, added sex and loved it. Some of her readers didn’t. She gets hounded to place less sex in her books or put it behind closed doors.

If you don’t want to write sex scenes, then don’t feel pressured to cross your comfort zone. However, if you some day want to be comfortable writing about sex. Then work from where you are comfortable and slowly add to it. Increase the amount of sensuality in a scene (i.e. petting, kissing, emotional need, etc), or the amount of sex. Push yourself a little further each time.

If you are like me and comfortable writing about sex, why stop yourself? Use a pen name if you don’t want people to get confused. Hide your double writing life. Whatever makes you comfortable. If you are one of those who don’t like writing about sex, then don’t. It comes out awkward and sometimes quite humorous. Trust me on this…or not, after all who am I to you?


Found this link about Writing Sex Scenes and thought I’d share it: “We all know that sex sells. But when it comes to writing, it can be difficult to pull off a sex scene. In certain genres (like general fiction and memoir), a writer takes a big risk by exposing nitty-gritty details.” Writing Sex Scenes: How Much Is Too Much? By Writers Relief Staff

Breaking Writing Sterotypes

Every genre has its writing stereotypes. This morning I came across a tweet decrying and asking people to leave a comment at this man’s blog in view of his post making fun of romance novels and readers. The post actually made me laugh as did some the comments–and yes, I do read and write romances.

The one thing I realized while reading his blog was that the people who commented live day in and day out with untrue writing stereotypes. They were fed up with people making fun of their hard work, but very few of those people were actually trying to break away from the stigma that they were so anger about.

Why? You might ask. Because traditional publishers dictated what rules they have to follow. Different is good. But not too different. Unique stories are welcome, but not always accepted.

As self-published authors, we are in the position to write what we like. We can move away from the writing stereotypes we don’t like. We can break the genre rules and take chances.

Please share the stereotypes you would like to see broken or changed, that you like, or that you hate. If you have a related post, let us know.

The Shame of Genre

I’m a firm believer in drawing life lessons from various places, and then applying them to completely different topics. Call me the Miss Marple of the blog world, sans the mystery solving thing. (If you don’t know what that means, then you need to read some Agatha Christie).

So, HIM, a rock/pop band from Finland, fronted by Ville Valo, has recently released their newest album, Screamworks. The reviews I’ve read of it, and even my own thoughts on it, have prompted me to think about genre writing a good deal. One thing I’ve been thinking about is that there seems to be an element of “shame” associated with some genres, such as Romance or Vampires/paranormal (And watch out if you put those together!). It’s as if you should be embarrassed to write them because they aren’t “real” enough. In fact, one friend of mine said “Let me know when you write something real, and I’ll buy that.”

Because of this shameful stigma, I think a lot of would be genre writers try their hardest to stay away from the genre’s that they’re really the happiest writing, or they try to package their genre book as something else. They manipulate the description to turn it into anything but what it really is, they might even edit it to inject bits of something else between the paragraphs, to try to fool their readers. But, no one’s fooled at all.

This makes me think of the band HIM because out of the many, many interviews and videos I’ve enjoyed, one thing always stands out. Poor Ville wants nothing more than to be the front man in a metal band. He’s even tried to call their brand of music Love Metal, and the music to many of the songs has an almost metal edge, but no matter what he does, no matter how he packages it, it all goes back to a catchy synthpop with lyrics about love, death, graves and tombs because, deep down, this is what Ville is good at. This is how his mind works, and it’s probably the thing that really appeals to him, especially considering he sights Poe and Baudelaire as some of his favorite works. But, like many writing genres, there’s definitely a stigma attached to a man in his thirties who is writing synthpop about broken hearts and tombstones.

Or is there?

HIM is the first Finish band to have a gold album in the United States. In it’s first week, their new album debuted at number 25 on the Billboard 200 and the album before debuted at number 12 – and that’s just in America. My point? For being a “genre” band with “nothing to say” they seem to have a lot of fans, and not just any fans, either. HIM fans seem to me to be some of the most obsessive, intensely loyal, nearly fanatical fans I’ve ever come in contact with.  That says to me that they must be doing something right.

And it’s not just HIM.  Look at genre book fans; Twilight, anyone? Whether you’re a fan or not, you’ve surely noticed the thousands of fan groups, email signatures, icon graphics and more that are plastered on every corner of the internet. They sure don’t think that genre fiction is anything to be ashamed of, so why do genre writers let other people tell us that it is?  Why do some of us try so hard to be something – anything – else, like Owen Wilson’s character in Marley and Me who was a natural columnist and yet spent the entire movie trying to be a journalist just because “a columnist isn’t a ‘real’ journalist”.

Well, who decides what’s real? Someone sitting on a stack of dusty literary, socially relevant books that people buy just to look good in their bookcase? Or someone who is writing books that people enjoy, even if they list them as a “guilty pleasure”? Though, the question does arise, why must they be a “guilty” pleasure? Is it because the reader has also been shamed by our literary minded society, so that they’re embarrassed to admit what they like?

Back to the new HIM album. All the reviews I’ve read say the same thing, that this album is “like their other albums” and that they are like several other bands out there (I beg to differ on this one, but then I’m looking only at the lyrics, not the whole package). All of the reviewers say this as if it’s a BAD thing, and as a consumer we tend to draw the same conclusion:

“Oh dear, more of the same old, same old.”

But, you know what? When they mixed it up in Venus Doom, most of the HIM fans were crying in their heartagram hoodies because it wasn’t what they wanted. They say “Man, we want something fresh”, but they don’t really. They want more of the same old, same old, because that same old is what they liked about the band in the first place!

The same goes with genre books. It’s as if every vampire or romance or mystery book that is written is expected to “rewrite the genre” and if it doesn’t, it’s chalked up as “same old, same old”. Let’s completely overlook the fact that everything that can be done has been done (Even that amazing movie Avatar that everyone is so rightly praising as original and amazing has the same old, same old storyline!) and go straight to this question: If you’ve rewritten the genre, then does that mean it’s even a part of that genre anymore? Doesn’t that make it its own genre?

Maybe I’m just too literal. I’ve been accused of that before, but I don’t think so. I know if I go looking for a romance novel there are several things I expect to see, and if I don’t then I’m disappointed. The same goes for vampires. I don’t want the author to try to be clever and make her vampires sparkle in daylight (sorry, I just can not embrace that), I want a good old vampire that turns to ashes in sunlight. I want some blood, I want some gore, I want some sex, and I want some good old fashioned fighting and, if they can work it in, I’d like to see some emo winging. Maybe I’m just paranormally-old-fashioned, but I don’t think being compared to Anne Rice is a bad thing! I happen to think that’s pretty damn spectacular, since I think she’s got some of the best vampires going.

So, why, if everyone really wants the same thing, do they complain that everything is so “unoriginal”? Why is the “same old” romance or mystery or thriller or vampire formula frowned on? Why should every book rewrite the genre, when there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the genre in the first place? Am I the only one in the world thinking, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

Short Stories – Guest Post by Terry Compton

Authors want their names down in history; I want to keep the smoke coming out of the chimney.

Mickey Spillane

I need to do my disclaimer first.  I’m not a huge selling author with lots of books on the market.  I’ve never been traditionally published.  I’m just a newbie that self-published my first ebook in November 2010.  I don’t want anyone to think that I’m like Joe, a friend of mine that was giving out lots of free advice when I first started racing stock cars.  Joe did have a few trophies from trophy dashes and thought he knew everything.  He insisted you needed more motor or bigger motor and lots of horsepower.  On the other hand I found John.  He didn’t say too much but the car he was helping with was always in front or close to the front during the main.  He said, “Get your set up right first and then try to find the horsepower as you have the money.”  I went over to John’s shop one day for something and I was amazed at the number of trophies he had.  They covered shelves he had in a small office and extended out on a shelf near the ceiling that lined two walls of his shop.  These trophies weren’t just from trophy dashes but most of them were from the mains.  That’s what you strive for.  Winning the trophy dash is nice, but the main is where you make your money.  I figured out right quick who I needed to listen to.

I have been emailing Joleene Naylor about a cover for my new upcoming novel and a collection of short stories.  When I told her that I had one short story “The Sunset of Big Oil” on Smashwords that had over 2000 page views in two days and sold one copy with a review in less than two hours, she suggested I needed to tell about it.  One of my other short stories “The Leprechaun’s Gift” sold two copies in two days.  I don’t consider that a big success but it is getting things started.  How did I get started writing short stories?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

I’ve been reading several blogs and forums about how to write, what to write and how to publicize.  One is Self Published Author’s Lounge, another is JA Konrath’s blog and two that really caught my eye are Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith.  Dean and Kristine both have been saying not to worry about doing a lot of promoting.  They say the best promotion is to have more books.  I looked on Smashwords for Dean Wesley Smith and saw that he had 69 short stories, collections or novels there under just his name.  He writes under several pen names, too.  Kristine is his wife and I think I saw one time that they have over 700 books and short stories between them.  They have won several awards over the years so I figured they might be like John and worth listening to.  Dean says write more short stories, publish them and then put them into collections of five or ten.  I decided to try it and currently have six published short stories and another that will come out the third week in August.

When I saw “The Sunset of Big Oil” generate over 2000 hits in two days and a sale with a good review in less than two hours on Smashwords, I was thinking move over Amanda Hocking here I come.  Then the next day however, the graph tracked across the bottom of the chart.  I’m still getting a few hits per day but when the top is set to 1250 and you only get 4 or 5 hits a day, they don’t even make a bump.  However, one thing I did see was that I was getting more page views on all my books on Smashwords and more free sample downloads.  So far, the sales haven’t followed but sales on Kindle have picked up.  Does one drive the other?  I don’t know.  Why did the one short story get so many page views?  If someone has an idea, I’d like to hear it because I’d like to see if I could duplicate it on future short stories and novels.  I suspect that a lot of the interest was because gas prices are so high and people were looking for a legal way to stick it to the Big Oil companies or hoped that I had.

I have received three major benefits from doing the short stories:

  1. I have more books out there for someone to find.  The more that are there, the  better your chances of being seen.  Dean Wesley Smith talks a lot about this and even has figures to back it up.
  2.  Writing the short stories gives me a chance to practice the craft of writing.  I can    switch genres to try some different things.  I can try different techniques.  I can  polish my writing without taking months to complete a project.  I have also been doing some of my own covers.  They don’t measure up to Joleene’s yet but maybe one of these days after I get all the right tools I need. (grin)  I don’t like to read short stories because most of the time, it seems like they leave you hanging in the middle of the story.  I have been having fun writing these stories though and I have worked to get them to come to a conclusion.  I know this will help later in my novels.  I want to keep learning and improving.  Doing the short stories in different genres also gives different search words when someone is looking for a particular thing.
  3. One thing I do with the short stories is to work up stories from things I’ve heard    on the news or from what people are talking about.  The Sunset of Big Oil came from a news story about the super tankers that were lined up in some harbor.  The crude oil tanks were full and they couldn’t off load.  What if that became   permanent?  What if???  Dean Wesley Smith talks about writing from a list of    book titles.  He has two different lists and takes part of a title from one and the rest from the other.  So far, I need to have an idea first but maybe with a lot more practice, his way will work for me as well.

One other thing I’ve learned is how global Smashwords and Kindle truly are.  My review for “The Sunset of Big Oil” was from Australia.  You hear about people from all over the globe buying ebooks but until one buys from you, sometimes it doesn’t really sink in.

Are short stories the answer for everyone?  I can’t answer that.  I don’t have enough data.  I know its working for me and I’m going to continue to write short stories as well as the novels.  Are my results spectacular?  Not for everyone but they did look impressive for me for two days.  Ask me in a year or five how they have worked, because I think this is going to take some time to build and polish.  Like the quote at the top of the article says, I just want to keep the smoke coming out of the chimney.  I doubt that I will ever have any of my novels become required reading in high school but I do hope that one day if I continue to improve, they will become “Hey, man, you’ve got to read this.”

Terry Compton

What’s in a Genre?

complete collection of John Grisham fiction an...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s in a genre, or even better, what IS a genre? Simply put, a genre is a “category” such as sci-fi, mystery, romance, paranormal, and fantasy to name a few. (You can find  a much longer list here – However, just because every book written will be crammed into a genre, it doesn’t mean the author is a genre writer. Literary fiction is generally considered non-genre writing, while the usual suspects (some of which I listed earlier) are considered “genre books”.

Confused yet?

So what is the point of genre? Logically, it’s to help a reader find a book they’d like. If you like mysteries, you want to check the Mystery shelf in your book store. If you like chick-lit, you want to hit up the chick-lit section, etc. etc. But, genre is more than just a helpful category, it is also a calling card.

Take a look at these authors below and see if you can match them with their genre:

  • Stephen King                    Sci-fi
  • John Grisham                   Comedy
  • James Patterson              Non-Fiction
  • Anne Rice                         Christian Fiction
  • Neil Gaiman                      Children’s
  • JK Rowling                       Black Comedy

How did you do? Were you able to line them up? Hint – I already did it for you. Stephen King’s time traveling sci-fi book 11-22-63 is a departure from his usual horror novels, while Skipping Christmas is far from John Grisham’s normal thrillers, and of course JK Rowling is breaking away from her young adult wizarding series with her forthcoming black comedy.

So what happens when an author writes outside their genre? That depends on many things, such as how established the author is, how far removed the new genre is from their old one and even whether the resulting book is any good. Some fans will follow an author into the adventure of a different genre, while other fans are left feeling betrayed and angry because they didn’t get exactly what they expected.

But wait, isn’t that the point of genre classification in the first place?

Yes, it is, but some readers have a habit of snatching up the newest book by their favorite author (or any author) without actually reading the description.  Why? Because they expect certain things about the book to tell them what they’re going to find inside, and one of those things is the author.

For instance, I long ago made the mistake of uploading an old children’s book I’d written to Smashwords as an example of formatting ebooks with images in them. It’s not an amazing work by any means, but it did the job. I was able to show people what an ebook with colored pictures looked like and it even got some pretty decent reviews. Fast forward two years. Despite changing the author name on the book, and attempting to move it from one author to another on Smashwords (I am going to try again soon), I’ve gotten several reviews on my short vampire stories on Barnes and Noble complaining because, unlike the other, it is “not a children’s story”.  Yes, the description clearly states that it is not a children’s story, but readers have downloaded it anyway and been disappointed, and those disappointed readers left a one star review, and enough one star reviews will drop the overall ranking. And when the overall ranking drops, your target audience, who has clicked over to check out your work, will just as quickly click away because the book/story only has one or tow stars over all and…  It turns into a quagmire.

But what if you want to write in a different genre?

You can do that. Lots of authors have done it successfully, but many use a key tool – a pen name. Sure,it’s okay, and might even be a good idea, to tell your fans “Hey, this is really me!”, but a pen name helps to keep your readers from being confused about what to expect. If you use a pen name be sure to make a SEPARATE account on Smashwords/Amazon/B&N/etcf or EACH pen name, otherwise the meta data will still list your primary author name as the publisher as you’ll be right back where you started.

How do you feel about genre? Do you think it’s a handy “tool” for quickly finding books or authors you might like, or do you think the literary world has let the tail “wag the dog” so that genre writing has become a trap?

My Take on Why Romance and Erotic Romance is More than Porn

There seems to be this misconception in our world that people need to be beautiful to be perfect. That the good guys always win or wear white hats. That the cheerleaders should go with the football/basketball players or be brainless.

The same type of misconceptions are found in writing. Like fiction isn’t true literature and everything that isn’t considered literature isn’t worth reading. That writer’s wear tweed coats, smoke, and/or drink (I so want a tweed coat right now! It would look awe-some over that white corset I bought the other day! Nope. Scratch that. I think a velvet suit coat would look better.).

That romance, erotic romance, and erotica is nothing but porn. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the argument on why romance and erotica are or are not porn. The problem most people get stuck on is the sex in the story.

When you focus on the sex you miss the books theme and the lessons they teach that are only enhanced by the relationship and the sex, whether it is: love will find away, compromises are sometimes need in relationships, nobody is perfect (even mates you have no choice screwing), even the most unloveable people are sometimes worth loving, you’ll always have a second chance at love, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, just because you’re not perfect doesn’t mean that you won’t find love, couples are allowed to fight and disagree, beauty isn’t everything, danger makes people sexual charged, no one is perfect, every relationship has its ups and downs, or love can conquer most things and if not team work will. See what I mean?

So here is my break-down of each category.

Romance – couple falls in love and has sex. The focus of romance is on the relationship between the couple and the obstacles they have to overcome, not so much on the sexual aspect although that can play a big part. A HEA or happily-ever-after is required.

Erotic Romance – couple may have sex before they fall in love, then again they might not. An erotic romance is a highly explicit story with more blunt sexual terms, but at its core the erotic romance is still a romance, usually centering around a sexual conflict and their relationship. A HEA (Happily-Ever-After) or HFN (Happy-For-Now) is required.

Erotica – they have sex and things happen. The erotic story has a theme and a story line that usually surrounds a sexual situation. The situations and sex scenes in the story may be graphic and controversial. A HEA (Happily-Ever-After) or HFN (Happy-For-Now) is not required.

Porn – This is just sex. The story line is only to get you from one sex scene to the next, which happen frequently and with little purpose other than to have sex. A HEA (Happily-Ever-After) or HFN (Happy-For-Now) is not required.

Romance and erotic romance is more than just sex, it’s romance, albeit sometimes not a very realistic romance. And that is by no means the end of the list, just the ones off the top of my head. Sex in a romance is just the added bonus. For some people it can even be a learning experience. FYI How-to manuals are soo dry. ;)

I’d love to hear your opinions. Even if you disagree with me.

Genres for Dummies (or a quick list guide of the more confusing genres and sub-genres)

I don’t know about you, but when I first started to “take this writing stuff seriously” I ran into what felt like a brick wall – the ever pressing, evil question “What is your Genre”?

“Um, vampires?”

Not only is vampires not a genre, but in an effort to help me find the correct “label” for my book, helpful people threw confusing terms at me such as “Urban”, “steampunk”, “dystopian” and the ever confusing “Speculative fiction”.

If, like me, you find all of these terms, genres, and sub genres confusing then read on as I try to wipe away the mists in no particular order.  (for a more through list, see


Speculative fiction – Speculative fiction is any work that exists in a “speculative” or “fictional” universe such as paranormal (vampires aren’t real, now are they?), Fantasy (you don’t see wizards cruising down Main street) Sci-fi (ditto on the aliens), alternate history (Hitler didn’t win World War II) and several others. One easy way to identify speculative fiction is to ask yourself “can/did this actually happen?” If the answer is no, then a good bet is it is speculative fiction.

Dystopian Fiction – a dystopia is a “nightmare world” – sometimes after the apocalypse has come to pass or sometimes because of a repressive government. Some examples of this are George Orwell’s 1984 and the newly popular Hunger Games.

Apocalyptic fiction – this is about the apocalypse, whether it’s brought on by nuclear war, aliens, a massive earthquake or a killer virus. Think of the movies The Knowing or 2012

Post-Apocalyptic fiction – the Apocalypse has come and gone, and this is what’s left. Often this is also dystopian fiction.

Hard sci-fi – Think of this as lots and lots of “scienc-y” stuff. There’s usually a lot of technology and a lot of technobabble going on.

Soft/Social Sci-fi –  Just what it sounds like. There’s sci-fi going on (maybe aliens, or the future or even killer robots) but there’s more focus on the characters and their feelings than there is on the technology. Think Ray Bradbury and probably most of the mainstream Science Fiction.

Cyberpunk – a combination of cybernetics and punk, this is a subgenre that usually deals with a dystopian(bad) future and the characters usually have prosthetics or are dealing with robots or… think Blade Runner and you’ve got it.

Alternate History – No, it did not happen that way, but what if it had? This can be anything from Hitler winning World War II to the Titanic not sinking.

Space Opera –These take place on other planets or in outer space and no, there’s no singing. “Opera” refers to the generally large “scope” of the story and the focus on action rather than the science. Buck Rogers, Stargate and Firefly are all examples of this genre.

Steampunk – usually set in the Victorian era, Steampunk involves a lot of heavy – usually steam driven – technology. This can include giant robots or even prosthetics. Think Wild Wild West starring Will Smith and you’ve got it.

Absurdist Fiction – Just what it sounds like, absurdist fiction are stories where characters find themselves in an purposeless and philosophically absurd situations. Though it sounds like this should be a comedy genre, it usually isn’t. Think  Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.

Brit Lit – just what it sounds like, Literature associated with Britain and its surrounding areas.

YA/Young Adult – books aimed at young adult readers (usually age twelve and up) however many are popular with adults, such as Twilight and Harry Potter.

Gothic Fiction/Gothic Horror – Contains elements of horror and romance. (Helpful, huh?) Think of a big gothic church sitting alone in the dark. How does that make you feel? The Gothic subgenre is supposed to evoke those same emotions. Think of Anne Rices’ Interview with a Vampire,  or any number of HP Lovecraft’s stories and you’ve got it.

Paranormal – vampires, ghosts, werewolves oh my! Also witches and any of the rest of it. May or may not have horror in it, however, depending on what it is paired with. For instance paranormal thriller vs paranormal romance.  Many online retailors only have paranormal listed under the romance category, however, so you may find a lot of paranormal romance novels that aren’t so heavy on the romance.

Splatterpunk – gore, gore and more gore. Usually there’s a murderer. Oh, and did I mention there’s a lot of gore?

High Fantasy – Think Lord of the Rings, High Fantasy is to Fantasy what Hard sci-fi is to sci-fi. Large, epic tales with lots of world building. The kind of fandom that generally involves fictional languages.

Low Fantasy – More accessible to mainstream, low fantasy usually takes place in “the real world” with elements of fantasy thrown in. Think Harry Potter – he’s in modern day London and yet, he’s a wizard.

Urban Fantasy – by definition it is simply fantasy that takes place in the city (urban) but has come to have a more paranormal meaning to it. Often involving a female protagonist who is some kind of hunter/slayer/enforcer such as the Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton. Sometimes books under this genre are more paranormal than they are urban. (My books have been called this because of the vampires but, if anything, they are far more rural than urban)

Sword and Sorcery – Exactly what it sounds like. Like high fantasy there are often sword swinging heroes and magic wielding bad guys, but the story concentrates more on the individual action rather than a world saving event.

Slash/Femslash – used mainly for fanfiction, this is where there are Male/Male or Female/Female romantic or sexual pairings (named for the “slash” used between the characters names; example: Bob/Tom). I have seen this applied to original works, however.  These may also be under the Japanese words Yaoi (males) or Yuri (females). Also called M/M or F/F . Usually when these descriptors are used the romance is the main plot.

LGBT – Lesbian. Gay. Bis-sexual. Transgender. Can be any genre, such as LGBT thriller, LGBT romance, LGBT horror… you get it.

Urban Fiction –  pretty self-explanatory. Urban settings, but usually of a miserable, dark quality dealing with issues such as drugs, gangs, prostitution and other themes.

Contemporary Romance – Romance taking place in contemporary times – in other words modern.

 Historical Romance – takes place in historical periods, pre World War II

Western Romance – takes place on the “frontier”. Many of Ruth Anne Nordin’s books are in this category

Regency Romance – set between 1810 and 1820 in England

Viking Romance – Dark Middle Ages or Middle ages and involves – gasp – a Viking

Medieval Romance – set between 938-1485

Tudor Romance – set in England between 1485 and 1558

Victorian Romance – set between 1832 and 1901

Native American Romance – think “western” with a Native American

Elizabethan Romance – set in England between 1558 and 1603

Georgian Romance –set between 1714 and 1810 in England

Pirate Romance –There are pirates. Yo ho ho.

Civil War Romance – set during the American Civil War era. Gone with the Wind, anyone?

Colonial Romance – set in the United States between 1630 and 1798

Americana Romance – Set between 1880 and 1920 in the United States, generally in the Midwest


If you check the link – – you can see I skipped a lot of genres, mostly those that are self-explanatory (Medical Thriller, Political Thriller, Parody, Satire, Erotica, etc.) And I’m sure there are subgenres not even listed here (Tudor-time-travel-paranormal –romantic-thriller anyone?)

After checking out the lists, was it easy to define your novel’s genre? If so what is it, and if not, what made it difficult?