Monday, 5 February 2018

Exploring Genre: How Genre Impacts Book Marketing

By Iola Goulton | @IolaGoulton

Australasian Christian Writers and Christian Writers Downunder share a post on the first Monday of every month, and this is the first joint post for 2018. Happy New Year!

Our 2017 posts focused on genre, and we are continuing that theme in 2018. If you'd like a catch-up, click here to read the useful summary Jeanette O'Hagan provided us with in December.

Because we believe that every author needs to understand the concept of genre, what genre they write in, and the expectations of that genre. Why? Because understanding is the core of your marketing strategy.

We're not alone in that belief. In her recent blog post 18 Rock Solid Book Marketing Strategies for 2018, Penny Sansevieri of Author Marketing Experts says:

Be clear on your genre. You shouldn’t even be considering publishing unless you know, without question, what genre you’re in. Book sales only happen when your book is in a clearly defined market. Don’t make the reader try to guess.

In fact, although Penny doesn't say so, most of her marketing recommendations can be related to genre:

Social Media

Knowing what genre you write will help you focus your social media efforts on the networks your readers use, not the networks recommended by the latest social media guru.

Write More Books

... in the same genre. Especially series. Readers love series.

Price Your Books to Sell

Pricing is often related to genre. If you're trying to sell the Kindle version of your self-published romance novel for $9.99, you're not going to make many sales because that's out of line with what romance readers expect to pay.

Make Sure Your Cover Matches Your Genre

Thriller readers aren't looking for books with werewolves or unicorns on the cover.

Connect With Your Readers

Which means knowing who your readers are. Which means knowing your genre.

Maximise Amazon

In particular, make sure your books are categorised properly on Amazon, so people who are looking to buy your genre find your books. Because people search Amazon for three main things: author, title, and genre. And they'll never know to search for you by author or title if they don't know your genre.

Build Your Fan Base

The easiest way to start is by finding and following readers who've read and reviewed books like yours. You know, books in the same genre.

Redo Old Covers

Especially if they don't reflect your genre.

Be Aware of Your Brand

And make sure it reflects your genre. If you're writing urban fantasy, your website should have a dark, gritty urban feel. No matter how much you like lambs frolicking in fields, that's the realm of Rural Romance.

Support Other Authors

Especially in your genre. Because if their readers keep seeing your name and realise you have a book, they might just check you out.


The best collaborations are the ones where there is something that unifies the collaborating authors. Like genre.

For example, 13 members of Australasian Christian Writers and Christian Writers Downunder have recently collaborated to develop and promote an Australia Day Giveaway—books by Australian authors, set in Australia, or both. That promotion has raised awareness of Australian Christian Fiction as a genre, promoted the participating authors, and given us all a boost to our mailing lists.

(We're considering running a couple of genre-based group giveaways during the year. Keep an eye on the Facebook group for details.)

Most authors I know find marketing harder than writing. 

If you don't know and understand genre, you're making marketing even harder. Certainly harder than it needs to be.

If you do know what genre you write, great! Perhaps you'd like to contribute an article? It's called content marketing, and it's a great strategy for people who aren't comfortable with pushy-pushy-pushy self-promotion.

If you're not sure what genre you write, go through our previous posts and make sure you check out the new post on the first Monday of each month. And leave a comment telling us something about what you write. Maybe we can help!

About Iola Goulton

Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).

Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, and currently works as a freelance editor. When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (not far from Hobbiton) with her husband, two teenagers and one cat. She is currently working on her first novel.


  1. Great post Iola. I really liked how you have expressed truths very succinctly and so clearly with the headings telling us what we need to know. Thanks for many useful tips! Happy New Year to you too! :)

  2. Great post, thanks Iola. A lot of great points about the importance on knowing one's genre in marketing. Knowing where one's readers hang-out, focusing on reviewers of one's genre, maximising Amazon, branding, supporting other authors in your genre - all great tips.

    1. Thanks, Jeanette. All so easy to say, but so much harder in practice ...

  3. Thanks for that, Iola. Great reasons to know your genre. I was just thinking of crossover genres though. I guess some of them are well-established as a kind of genre of their own (e.g. romantic suspense, historical thriller). Any tips for those who cross genres with their novels? Is marketing harder for those?

  4. I think the advantage of writing in a known genre - or even a known crossover genre such as romantic suspense - it that there are already other writers in that space.

    This gives you a degree of certainty that there are readers looking for this crossover, so you can find and target those readers.

    It's going to be harder for a novel in a truly breakthrough genre, although Amish Vampires in Space seems to have done all right ...

    For those who are writing novels which cross genres, I'd suggest they try and find other writers in the genre and see what they are doing.

    I suspect finding readers might be harder with a cross genre novel, but getting those readers interested might be easier because there aren't as many books out there.

  5. Some genres are more open to cross-overs than others too. Speculative fiction or Young Adult fiction readers may appreciate experimentation whereas category Romance readers often have more definite ideas of what romance is.

    1. Good point.

      Romance has a lot of defined tropes (e.g. sheik, billionaire, secret baby, other woman, cowboy, Amish, mail order bride), and the readers expect the covers to indicate the relevant trope.

      Speculative - as the word suggests - is a lot more open to experimentation.

  6. I know my genre but it is so very narrow. LOL And I know the covers do not reflect that genre. But each book in the series has Christians, Jews, Romans and lots of scene changes I would not know how to pick for a cover, other than what my Christian friend chose for me. Hold the Faith... there is an upward path in it, Grow in Grace, she gave me a tree, The Light of Truth - one of her Aurora Australis pictures, Keep the Flame - I bought an image of a flame in an oil lamp, Hell Shall Not Prevail - considered a lot of options including 'hell' type, but readers chose one that had the sun coming out from behind the clouds. The cover for my 1st novella spin-off is more like the genre.
    My time-setting is late 1st century, and I am a storyteller not a preacher but many distrust 'Christian' in case there is an attempt to convert tucked away in there. LOL
    I need to go over your article again and make notes of your points.
    Thank you

    1. Knowing what to pick for a cover does come back to understanding your genre. That will help you find comparable authors, so you can see what books (and covers) are popular with readers.

      Late first century is historical fiction, so readers are expecting a cover that depicts the era and perhaps the genre (is it romance or adventure? Or is the focus more on the character's personal journey?)

      It could also be seen as Biblical fiction, which is an established genre - although most of it focuses on Old Testament characters. Those covers tend to be rich with historic detail, and feature the heroine on the cover. Tessa Ashfar has fabulous covers.

      I'm pleased you found my post helpful!