is divided into categories known as “Genre,” meaning
style or type. I’m not sure who began this labeling process
but it may have gone a bit farther than it was first intended.
had quite a lot of conversation with authors, editors, publishers,
and bookstore managers on this subject and have encountered varying
opinions on the value and usefulness of classifying literary works.
“The Unreal McCoy,” my own first book as an example,
it has been called “Hard Boiled” because one of the
main characters is a private investigator. And then it has been
referred to as a “Police Procedural” because my PI works
with a couple of cops to solve the crime. Depending on who you talk
to it might also be called a “Mystery” because I don’t
directly reveal the identity of the bad guy, yet some regard it
as a “Thriller” because I don’t really hide the
I don’t mind it so much that people have trouble agreeing
on how to brand my work but what bothers me is that bookstores don’t
seem to know which shelf to put it on. The danger here is that they
may decide to simply pass on placing something in their inventory
that has such an ambiguous identity. I have heard horror stories
from authors who have written “Christian Mysteries”
and have been passed over by bookstore managers simply because it
wasn’t clear whether the book should go in the mystery section
or with the Christian literature.
I can think of at least seven or eight sub-genres in the mystery
category alone. And that’s just in the fiction side of the
business. Sometimes it seems as if the literary industry is running
out of control and making things far more complicated than they
need to be.
ask myself the question, “Does the reader really care?”
I don’t think so.
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