Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Choosing your genre

A little back story: I’ve got a romance to query, a women’s fiction and this other book I finished last spring but am just now revising it.

My problem and one question for you - - what genre is it?

When I attended a writer’s conference last May, a freelance editor looked at the first two chapters and told me in order to qualify as women’s fiction, the first chapter needed to start in the woman’s POV. Mine starts in the husband’s POV and alternates between them—growing both characters throughout the book. (Although the woman definitly has a bigger role.)

So help me out here, please. In which genre should I list this story? General or Women's? (thank you!)

(Now wasn't today's post easy? I'm thick in revisions and the brain needs some help.)


Lynda Young said...

er.. I couldn't tell you without a clearer idea of the story. Sometimes books don't always sit in a tidy box.

KarenG said...

Well if you use the male POV then you better stick with general. Maybe you will get a larger demographic that way too.

Tamika: said...

Oh Terri, I wish I knew! I'm praying that you get the right answer and clear direction:)

Diane J. said...

Oh boy. I wish I knew. I'm struggling with what my book is, I know it's YA, but what? I'm leaning heavily toward suspense...I just hope I'm right.

By the way: I've been a bit behind on my blog reading, but I went through your last five posts and I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you sharing your journey with a professional edit. That has been eye-opening. THANK YOU!

Lin Floyd said...

can't help you on this one. I write non-fiction and poetry books so far!

Shelley said...

I really don't know...would it be possible to switch (or add a bit) so that the wife's POV is first?

Ann Best said...

General, as KarenG said. That's my first thought. My second is, do you want to (can you) have the first chapter from the woman's POV? Then you would call it women's fiction.

Something, of course, only you can decide.

Thanks for commenting on my blog today. Now I'm happily reciprocating.

Your journey with your writing interests me very much. I've written for the inspirational market also, and have published in Chicken Soup for the Souls, although not as many as you have!!

I'll be back to read more when I get rid of my miserable cold!!!

Heidi Willis said...

In my own personal opinion and experience, having written and queried a book that fit either one, general fiction is always a safe bet. Unless an agent says they are specifically interested in women's fiction, you risk the chance that they'll be turned off by that phrase no matter how the book begins (don't ask me why.... what's in today is out tomorrow), but general fiction is always in. Most agents who take fiction will look at general fiction.

Cast a wide net with your category and then let the agent decide if you should narrow it.

JW said...

I know nothing. But, I am sending you "happy revising" vibes! :)

Erin MacPherson said...

Could you switch one of the chapter's from the women's POV to the first chapter? Or does it have to be the husband's?

Sally said...

Go General.

Lynn said...

I'm with Tamika. Praying the choice becomes clear to you!

(I think I side with general fiction more from a readers stand point--larger demographics. I wish we didn't have to 'genre' books, period. Feels like segregation to me!)

Jan Cline said...

If you dont want to be considered romance, maybe general is the way to go. When you're good at all of it, it's a hard decision!

Susan R. Mills said...

Okay, don't hate me for saying this, but I personally think that the book should start out in the POV that is most dominant in the book. Therefore, regardless of the genre, the first chapter needs to be written from the woman's POV. Of course, this is only my opinion.

Nehha N Josshi said...

Umm...I am bad at this. According to the details you have given us, it should be General. Why not leave the confusion and check it out with another editor?

Ann Best said...

Hi, Terri. I just read the comment you posted about the caves here in Harrisonburg, Virginia; that you once upon a time lived here (small world, isn't it!) and have now been married for 33 years. Congrats!

That you lived here makes me feel like we're connected. I'm beginning to "see" more clearly after six months of blogging the people I follow and who follow me the most. Now I have something that will help me remember you!! Thanks for stopping by and leaving this comment.

My second husband is buried in Quantico. He was a civilian in the Marine Corps. I was only married to him for 7 1/2 years and then he died (suicide). He's in my upcoming memoir.

I'm still fighting my bad cold. It's still at the feeling slightly miserable stage, but I think in a few days I'll feel much better. I usually shake off such things pretty fast. Thanks for wishing me well!!

Jessica Nelson said...

Hmmm, I don't know. General fiction is safe enough, I think. IF it's womens, then an agent will probably say so or have you change it.

ginny said...

Hi Terri, I had been thinking about you, too. I am so glad your mammo turned out good. I always have an anxiety attack when I get mine! I am due in Dec.
We're good here. My husband has finally turned a corner in his recovery and is doing excellent. Praise God!
Had an appt. with my spiritual director yesterday, and she and I talked about gratitude even during the bad times. She is a true woman of the Lord and is very wise and insightful. She is an artist and you know how quirky artists are....well, she is very quirky, but I think the Lord uses that in her ministry as a woman in the Church today. I love her!
Well, sorry for rambling on so much.
Keep writing, and keep your focus on the Lord. Good things are coming your way!

Judith Riddle said...

Hi Terri,

Not sure I can answer your question, but I wanted to say hi and thank you for stopping my blog the other day. You have a very interesting blog. I, too, am a writer/editor. Not as accomplished as you are in the christian writing genre. I've been published in Marlene Bagnull's compilation book For Better For Worse, Anointed magazine, and my devotionals are being published at My blog is a devotional writing blog. Today's post is Waiting upon the Lord. I was feeling rather blue and anxious this morning and decided to write a quick devotional based on what the Lord shared with me in prayer.

When you get a moment, feel free to read it and comment. Well, take care. Hope to visit you again soon.


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

I'd go with general also unless you want to switch the first chapter to one with the female lead.

Susan :)

Heather Sunseri said...

I am no expert, but I'm quickly learning that if agents/editors expect a certain thing, I try to give them exactly that. I try to take away any easy ways they can reject me. I have a few obstacles in the way of my book getting published already, but if I CAN do something to make it easy for them, I do it.

I'm REALLY sorry if that's not what you want to hear. I'm sending you all kinds of prayers in figuring it out. Obviously, if it's something you're attached to, then you just need to be able to explain why it works. Again, make it hard for the agent/editor to say no.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Though I am no expert Terri, I feel stick to the general as you have both the male and the female POV and this way you will not turn away male readers.

Patti Lacy said...

Sounds like general to me, but is there a way to start in the woman's POV???? Now I want to read it!!!



P.S. I am in the writers cave until 11/15 OR two manuscripts zipp into publishers e-mail. Would covet your prayers and occasional visits as my blog hopping will be severely curtailed. But I still would like to read that first chapter!!!!!!!!!
Some things just can't be stymied--like my imagination and curiosity!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Hmmm...that's tough without more info. But I'm thinking if you can't start the story with woman MC then maybe it might be general.

Andrea said...



KelliGirl said...

Sorry I can't help you with selecting a genre.

I can see how much you're learning in this process. Your patience and perseverance will pay off.

Happy revising and enjoy your weekend.

Jeanette Levellie said...

If you ask 14 editors you will get 7 different opionons.

I don't understand why the hard and fast rule that it MUST start with the woman's point of view. If it's mostly about the woman, and the writing is great--as I know it is--you can call it women's if you want to.

Who is your audience? Women or general?

careann said...

I had a similar dilemma with one of my stories and was told to identify where it would be shelved in a bookstore. Another thing to consider is whether your target audience is women or men or both. Regardless of how good the story and writing may be, if an agent can't quickly tell where it fits by reading the first page you may be contributing to its rejection.

Blessings to you as you determine what to do.


T. Anne said...

Quick create a new opening in which the woman is the first POV. Problem solved. ;)

Karen Lange said...

I would guess women, since it is more in her POV, but not an expert here...:)

Amy Tate said...

Oh, I'm not good with labeling. It sounds like a fascinating story! My first reaction is women's fiction. Have you ever read another book like this one?

Julie Musil said...

I know nothing about writing in these genres, so I'm not very much help. Although it would seem to be general. As a woman, I love reading books with a male pov (including alternating pov's) so it seems to me this would widen your market.