Genre Mislabeling: A Tale of Woe


I have a request for the people of academia, the book bloggersphere, and the author community:


It would mean ever so much.

Namely, could people kindly learn the differences between “containing elements” of a genre and being part of that genre?

A part of me dies every time I see Dracula called a Romance.

It is not a Romance. Pride and Prejudice is a Romance. Romance novels should center around a couple’s individual attraction/love story. (Neither of those is the driving factor in the original Victorian classic.)

Romance novels MUST have a “happily ever after” ending*. That is universally agreed upon by the Romance Writers of America and every single Romance writer’s association out there. GOOGLE IT.

Dracula is a monster story, don’t let the highly derivative erotica fan fiction fool you.

Romance is the hottest genre on the market right now, so it makes sense people would try to leach off its success. But it’s false advertising, even if that happens with every popular genre.

Young Adult is more than having a >18 character. (Look at Game of Thrones.)

YA books are generally concerned with coming-of-age and self-discovery. There are also themes of growth and there should generally be a sense of hopefulness. Romeo and Juliet, for example, is not YA (or Romance).

YA books should also be less graphic than Adult.

As a general rule, if a scene/description is so graphic a kid would need permission from a legal guardian to see it on film, they probably shouldn’t be reading it.

That’s just common decency and logic.

Epic Fantasy is supposed to be EPIC.

It’s right there in the title. Epic Fantasy is, by definition and convention, supposed to take place in a separate world unconnected to ours.

It is also supposed to span years, at least. Some Epic series can span lifetimes or centuries. In the case of Tolkien, it spanned tens of thousands of years.

Fantasy/Paranormal get used interchangeably, but THEY ARE NOT THE SAME.

In Fantasy, the outlandish is the driving factor behind the story, setting, and characters. You are quite obviously not in our world. TWILIGHT IS NOT FANTASY!!!

Paranormal is less in-depth and often centers around ordinary humans interacting with the supernatural. However, there is still an obvious link to our contemporary reality.

Urban Fantasy takes elements of both. It focuses on the supernatural taking place within human cities and tends to have a large focus on romance without actually  being romance.

Fantasy: The Dresden Files, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Dragonriders of Pern
Paranormal: The Black Dagger Brotherhood, Vampire Diaries
Urban Fantasy: Most books by Patricia Briggs and Charlaine Harris.

Genre can be sticky, it’s true. There are other times when it’s glaringly obvious.

For the sake of bestseller charts and “what to read next” lists everywhere, I am begging you all to AT LEAST TRY.

Some books flex genres and may have overlap in several, but there will always be a dominant, most suitable genre.

*People who are not Romance writers: Bram Stoker, Nicholas Sparks, Gaston Leroux, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, John Green, etc.


    1. Even Amazon gets it wrong sometimes, LOL. (Harry Potter is not an Arthurian retelling, no matter what the charts say.) Kudos for trying all the same. 😉

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