This is a pretty straight forward thing to understand, but it gets tricky when sub genres are brought into play. This was highlighted for me when I read the blog post Is Your Mystery Novel Having an Identity Crisis? by Alyssa Mackay. In it she emphasises how important it is know to know what type of mystery you are writing so that you can pitch it properly to publishers. This is an excellent point regardless of what genre you are writing and one I thought I had followed.
I decided, after reading the post, to do some more thorough research on my chosen genre, fantasy. What a freaking eye opener that was. I thought because I read it all the time I knew what I was talking about, but I quickly found out that was not entirely accurate. So the following is a list of what I found, I have no doubt there are more sub genres out there but this will do for starters.
Bangsian – famous historical figures are interacted with
Comic fantasy – has a funny side to it (bit self explanatory)
Contemporary fantasy – real world setting but with magic or supernatural elements
Dark fantasy – elements of horror
Epic or High fantasy – has a plot or characters on an epic scale
Fairy tale fantasy – reworking of fairy tales
Heroic fantasy – focused on heroes
Historical fantasy – like historical fiction but with fantasy elements
Juvenile fantasy – for children
Low Fantasy – opposite to high or epic fantasy, few fantasy elements
Romantic fantasy- more focused on the romantic side of things than the fantasy
Sword and sorcery – more limited in scope than high fantasy
Urban fantasy – city setting
Before the more in depth research I was sure that my manuscript was historical fantasy, now it’s not. It is actually more along the lines of epic fantasy or sword and sorcery.
But the worst thing is, I’ve sent it off to a publisher claiming my manuscript is historical fantasy. At first my heart stopped and I cursed myself for being an idiot and not doing my research properly. But then I calmed down. It has happened and there isn’t much I can do about it now. I am by no means the only one to have done this, but it really does pay to do your research properly first. I have resigned myself to not hearing back from these publishers, but will focus on different ones (sucks because the two I have sent my manuscript to are my favourites). So a bit of advice to those about to send their manuscripts to publishers, double check your genre first. Save yourself the heartbreak of getting it wrong and good luck.