We’re thrilled to have Cathy Yardley return as our guest today!
Cathy Yardley is the author of seventeen traditionally published novels. She is also a developmental editor and writing coach through her website, RockYourWriting.com. Sign up for her free e-course Jumpstart Your Writing Career, and receive helpful hints on pinpointing where you might be stuck – and how to get back on track for a successful fiction-writing career.
Why Genre Matters
I view reading with the same gusto that I view eating.
Genres are my “food moods.” Sometimes, I want the comfort of a keeper read, a funny romantic comedy. Sometimes, I want the caffeinated buzz of a twisty thriller.
I consume it like a glutton at a buffet: a plate full of women’s fiction with a side of cozy mystery, then a helping of literary fiction nestled next to a generous scoop of sci-fi. Finish off with a few petit-fours of Regency romances, chased with a few stiff shots of horror.
(If you’ve ever left the library with more than an armload of books at a time, hopefully you can understand the obsession.)
“What difference does genre make?”
I’ve met quite a few people who feel their work crosses genre – or in some cases, “transcends” it. They don’t want to be pigeon-holed. In a digital world, does it really matter? Do you really need to label your novel?
In my opinion: yes. Yes, you really do.
Why? Because it’s not about you. It’s about your readers.
Your reader wants to find you – and in a digital world, full of information overload, readers are drowning in a sea of options. You want to make it as easy as possible for your reader to narrow down her choices. Genre is the first broad stroke in that attempt.
Here’s an analogy. Let’s say you had a restaurant, one in a row of restaurants. They’ve all got their signs out: D’onofrio’s Fine Italian dining, Los Cabos Mexican eatery, Liberty Bell Philly Cheesesteaks, Pho Sure Vietnamese.
Your sign says: FOOD.
How many people do you think are going to be stopping by?
Perhaps that’s too reductive. Let’s say the name of your restaurant is Oblique.
Your potential diner is curious. He wants to know more about you.
Your menu, however, says something like: Food for the discriminating diner. Evocative notes of summer childhoods, shot through with the sophistication of jazz-filled evenings at a smoke-filled club. More importantly, each meal purchased helps support local wildlife and sustainable farming. No allergy concerns here! Plus, every meal comes with accompanying kid’s sundae!
So… what is it? [Read more…]