Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

What's With All the Vampire's? or Why I Hate Book Categories

I know. When you're trying to market a book, whether to an agent, a publisher or a reading audience as you self-publish, you need to categorize it in some way for marketing purposes. I get it. I understand. Except that I don't, really.

You see, I'm trying to be a good author. I'm trying to read extensively in the genres that I think I'm writing so that I can clearly label my own work. I know that I am aiming at middle grade readers (in one of my manuscripts) and young adult/new adult in my others  . . but really I want to have cross-generational appeal. Because the reality is that most of the books I love recently speak across the generations.

But. here's the thing, whenever I try to read extensively in the genres that seem to apply to my work, I find that my work doesn't fit neatly anywhere. I'm not writing a romance (there's some hint at romance but it isn't the important element), I don't have vampires (if I read one more book about mysterious-sexy-boys and the girls who sacrifice everything for their undead loves I might explode) or werewolves. My world, although placed in a world that could be, doesn't have young people embracing violence and relishing the fight.  Although there is a magical/fantastical/paranormal element to my work, I don't have witches or elves or fantasy worlds. My protagonists, while girls, aren't obsessed by boys/sex/fashion or anything like that (although they are all trying to find themselves and how they fit in to the world). The males in my books aren't all jerks, but they aren't all perfect specimens either. Some of my parents are still alive (although I admit a couple of mother's are dead) and they all care about their kids for the most part.

Down with Vampires

But there's the problem. My books don't fit any of the molds of what sells.  However, the books I love the most--the books that I want to read and wish I had written--those books don't fit the molds either. They can't be defined by one genre or one formula. Maybe they fall under the title Literary Fiction--but even that's not true for all of them. Some of them are straightforward stories that speak to many audiences. Some of them are complex literary masterpieces.

All of them call to me for different reasons, but defy categorization.

Yet we live in a world where categories count.

I can't even categorize myself. I can't give myself a label or define myself with only one term, so how the heck am I supposed to do that for my books?