Monday, May 13, 2019

Choosing the Right Genres (or Not Cheesing Off Your Readers)

If you read my Reading Wrap-up this past Saturday, you'll see I DNF'd (did not finish) a book because it wasn't what it promised to be.  It was hyped as a historical suspense/thriller, and while there was some jumping back and forth between now and the mid-nineteenth century, neither aspect of the book was especially suspenseful or thrilling.

Oh, sure, the author dropped a body at the beginning.  I think the body drop was in the past part, but it wasn't clear.  Anyway, a body drop is a good way to start out a suspense or a thriller.  But they didn't follow that with anything to tie the body into the story.  Not for the reader anyway.  Maybe to the author - who knows what lies ahead - the ties were perfectly clear.  To this reader, though, it was all muddied up.

Like I said, a body is discovered almost immediately, then I read further waiting for some sort of tie-in.  I figured it was this one gal who is mentioned in both the past scenes and the present scenes.  Then I read far enough to a present scene were they introduce the woman's granddaughter, so it couldn't be her...

Unless, and this seriously just occurred to me, the opening scene was in the present and NOT in the past as I had assumed.

And see, this is what I'm talking about...  As a writer, you cannot leave those things unclear to your readers.  Because once they get confused about stuff like that, they will shut your book and never open it again.  (Or do what I did and scroll to the end so my Kindle sees it as 'read' and filters it out.)

But that's not the only thing that made me put the book away.  If you're going to market a book as a certain genre, it has to meet the main characteristics of that genre.  In the case of a suspense, it has to be suspenseful.  And if you call it a thriller, it has to be thrilling.  I know, duh, right?   If you call it both, you better knock my freakin' socks off.  And if you call it historical, it better be set in the past in its entirety.  But maybe that last part is just me. 

Anyway, it'd be like my calling any of my books romances.  And if I did that, my readers would be seriously disappointed.  There is very little romance, if any, in my books.  I do not want to cheese readers off that way.

That ought to be the first rule of publishing - do not cheese readers off.  Not if you can help it, anyway.  I mean, you're going to cheese some people off no matter what you do, but that's a topic for another day.

So, yeah, pay attention to how you market your books.  Get the genre right.  If you're on the fence about whether your book is this genre or that, pick the strongest one and run with it.  That's why I try to market Project Hermes as a political suspense.  Okay, sometimes I say political thriller, but calling it a thriller makes my uncomfortable because while it's suspenseful, I don't think it's especially thrilling.  Either way, I haven't marketed it as a medical thriller or a technothriller or what have you.  It has elements of those, too, but they're less prominent.  It's the political aspect that shines the brightest, I think. 

And that's my two cents on that.  What say you?


  1. That stinks. I've also read mysteries where I'd read over 50% of the book and there was no body yet. If it's a mystery, I'm waiting for the mystery to start, as a reader. If there's a body right off the bat, I want to see a sleuth invested in finding out the killer right off the bat. Then the subplots, etc, can be woven in after that. Frustrating!

  2. I totally agree! If an author doesn't understand the genre, I'm not going to waste time or $$. And I will add something else that has become A Thing(tm) that totally cheeses me off. Somebody got the bright idea that meta data/SEO means "front-end loading" every key word in your book IN. THE. FREAKING. TITLE. I can't tell you the number of times I've read a blurb and thought, "Hey, that might be interesting..." and then the title is "MAKING CAKE: A suspensefull time-travel biker older man younger woman dark thrilling romance with a writer who is too dumb to realize this cheeses off most readers or it should. Just sayin'..." I don't care how interested I was, as soon as I read that title, I'm done. I won't buy it. I won't use my KU subscription to give the author page reads.

    Getting off my soapbox now. I just really dislike unprofessionalism in a profession that should be professional. *looks shifty-eyed*

    1. Right there on your soapbox with you, Silver! That totally cheeses me off, too.