Daddy's Christmas Angel

Friday, July 29, 2011

Deciding How to Label Your Books

How do you decide what label to put on your book? Is it sweet romance, romance, mystery/suspense, contemporary, Gothic, or even a combination that makes it more difficult to tag or label? Any of those categories may be easier to label than a book with paranormal elements like I often write.

My first novel, Hearts Across Forever, has a reincarnation theme, so I labeled it paranormal. That seemed to work out fine. Secrets by the Sea has ghosts, so paranormal works okay for it as well. Then along came Night Watch, and things got a little sticky. You see, my main character may or may not be a "walk-in". Readers may or may not like the concept of a "walk-in". What's that? you ask.

A walk-in is someone who has agreed to come into the body of a soul who for some reason wants to leave. The two souls make an agreement, and the second takes the place of the first. The "walk-in" has memories of the previous soul but also has some of his or her own. It's a little like reincarnation except on a more immediate level.

Night Watch is more difficult for me to label as paranormal because so many readers think of paranormal books as ones having vampires, shape shifters, or werewolves. Anyone looking for these elements probably won't like Night Watch. A contest judge may not understand the walk-in concept and will find this book hard to judge. Someone suggested that it should be labeled occult/supernatural. That label doesn't seem right to me either.

What to do? I don't know what label to give my book. For the future, I think it might be best to write a book that doesn't have elements that lie in the gray area. I need to write books that are easier to define.

But that may be easier said than done.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Night Watch is a challenge only because paranormal was overrun by vampires and the like!
I need a new category for mine. How about science fiction - low tech/space opera/adventure/character-driven?

Lydia K said...

I'd never heard the term walk-in, but it sounds so cool!

J.L. Campbell said...

You have to be true to your writing, so I guess you have to put some thought into it until you're sure where it fits.

Marian Allen said...

If we're voting, I vote with J. L. You have to be true to your writing. If you can channel your creativity into patterns that fit the standard pigeonholes and not lose your individual spark, that's one thing. But don't let those pigeonholes trap you.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monti said...

Thanks, Alex, Lydia, J.L., and Marian, for your comments. Unfortunately, you need labels to help describe your book for catalogs, reviewers, even for Amazon. Because of the vampires, etc., it's hard to call a book like Night Watch paranormal. Like you say, Marian, I think for that book the pigeonhole has trapped me. AND the title has as well. There are two many other Night Watch books out there. Not a good thing for an author, I've found!

Lydia, "walk in" is a fascinating concept.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like labeling books can be a hard task at times. I found the comments about this subject interesting.