Knowing Your Genre

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.


10 thoughts on “Knowing Your Genre

  1. I struggle with the whole genre thing, too. I think one can get too wrapped up in labeling something “correctly”. Different people have different ideas of what’s what. Wishing you luck (and sanity) during your submission process!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. To be honest, I’m still confused about genres. Maybe they are becoming too specific and being broader is more useful. I’m sure saying ‘historical fantasy’ will be okay. If a publisher finds your submission engaging, I’m sure they won’t be too worried that you haven’t been super specific with your genre.

    Liked by 1 person

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