Dear fellow writers: the mistake I made

So, this just kind of dawned on me the other day. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and reading about indie author marketing lately, so I’ve kind of had a slightly big mindset change, all centering around this one idea…

My books are not for everyone.

I had this idea in the beginning, when I first started doing the marketing and crap a few years ago, that everyone would love my books! They’re great and awesome and amazing, so why wouldn’t they?

Well, I gave up on marketing and advertising for a while, and I’m just now diving back into it. The main reason I gave up, too, is because, well, for me, it just wasn’t working. Now that I’ve had some time to reset, I know multiple reasons why it wasn’t working, but the main one is this:

Genres and categories exist for a reason.

I struggled a lot with figuring out genres a few years ago. I still struggle with it because my books are very cross-genre-d and, I think, apart of a genre that doesn’t even really exist, at least in a mainstream way. This is really frustrating because, at least in my opinion, all of the best books are cross-genre-d in some way, usually fitting into more than one category at once. I’ve posted about this before, using Star Wars as an example, even though it’s a film franchise, but that’s really the same thing as the book series form. Think about it again here: sure, Star Wars is mainly considered a science fiction series, but it also contains tons of elements of action, adventure, romance, and comedy, just to name a few. I don’t even consider myself a science fiction fan, but I do love Star Wars because it just is simply a good story, and it’s a good story because it transcends so many genres at once.

HOWEVER, in terms of marketing, I’ve learned that GENRE plays a huge role. And it does for a reason.

Think about yourself as a reader. You might like a few different genres of books, actually, you probably do, but there’s also probably one section in a bookstore that you always want to check out first. That one section is your favorite genre. Now, imagine that there are no categorized sections in the bookstore, and you have to go through every book one by one, and you may never find one from your favorite genre. This is time-consuming and, quite frankly, really frustrating. Especially if you’re a busy person or hate shopping, which many readers are!

This is why genres exist: for the ease of the reader/customer. And, if you want anybody to read your books, you’re just gonna have to play by the genre rules. Which sometimes sucks, I know.

So, back to my first point, which is that my books, your books, our books… are not for everyone. Readers choose books based on genre first and foremost, and not everybody like science fiction. And, as hard as it is for me to believe this, not everybody likes Star Wars, either, with all its multi-genres packed in under the science fiction category.

Now, how does this change this for us?

We gotta categorize our books correctly, based on genre. Whether you’re advertising your work or not, it’s a hell of a lot easier to catch readers if you put your book in the right genre, and then readers searching for that genre actually can find it, and then in turn actually like it because, well, it’s their favorite genre!

If you don’t get your book in the right main genre, then the right readers won’t find it. This takes some work on your part to figure out, but as I’ve learned, when in doubt, go to the Amazon online bookstore and browse each category to see which your work aligns with the most.

And that’s my tips for this week, guys!

Let me know, please, if you’ve made the same mistake of “my books are for everyone”!

–Kari

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