7 Genres for Your Novel and How to Choose the Right One
“Go to the bookstore and you’ll see my new book on the shelves,” said a recently published author. Her book was a fictionalised account of her spiritual journey and finding God a year after her divorce. Two days later, I was at the Customer Services desk of the bookstore, giving the lady the title of the book, name of author and even the ISBN. This was after I’d already looked for the book in the ‘Literature’, ‘Asian Writers’ and ‘New Releases’ parts of the Fiction section. The lady entered all the details into the computer and voilà, she knew where the book was.
“Follow me, Miss,” she said and we went in search of the book.
Can you guess under which section my friend’s book was placed? Self-help. How could a fictionalised account of a woman’s journey be classified as ‘Self-help’? The book was part fiction. Surely, we should have looked at shelves somewhere near the Fiction section?
The lady from Customer Services said that it was the author who had given them this classification. My friend denied this and said that she’d given her book to the distributors and left it to them to sort out how the bookstores would classify her book.
I didn’t see the need to probe the matter any further, but it made me aware of the possibility that the responsibility of classification of books rests on the shoulders of the author or aspiring novelist. So, let’s see if we can help an aspiring novelist in this matter.
One of the first issues an aspiring novelist will have to consider, therefore, is the type of novel he’d like to write. It might seem straightforward, but any published author will admit that this is not necessarily so. For one, the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines a novel in the following terms: ‘a fictitious prose story of book length.’ A novel could be 50,000 words long. It could be 150,000 words long. What happens if the work is part fiction? Indeed, Miguel Syjuco, when asked about how much reality was reflected in his novels, further illustrates this point: “I like the old writer’s cliché that applies to my book – everything in this book is true, and some of it might even be factual.”
Furthermore, enter any bookshop and it will become obvious that there are hundreds of different types of novels