Genre? What genre?

I’m the type of author that infuriates publishers. Hence I am publishing my own stuff these days.

What I’m talking about it the whole concept of genre. I don’t know who invented the concept, but it didn’t take long for a lot of people to buy into the idea. The intent was to label stories (and non-fiction, and music, and films, etc.) into specific categories, called genres. Categorizing them would allow readers to have a pretty good idea of the subject matter in the book they’ve picked up, and allow marketers to know who it was that was a potential market for that book.

That’s all well and good, if you as an author have a handle on a particular genre. You know which publishers wants books in which genre, you get a handle on the expectations in that category, and you begin to build of followers who know exactly what they are getting when they crack open one of your covers.

But the flip side of that is that when followers know exactly what they are getting, they are less surprised at the end. Being true to a genre limits creativity, I believe. Genre faithfulness is safe, but not necessarily fun.

But there are a few brave souls who are willing to push the boundaries. Most of the time they are either firmly established, and can sell a song or a book just with their name. But often they are authors or songwriters who are starving, but inspired to try something different.

Once again, that’s one of the advantages of indie publishing. In the end, we still have to please the readers. But if you can sell a book on its own merit rather than it fitting cleanly into a niche, you might accomplish something. And that something might go well beyond selling a few books.

After all, think of all the great books that started new genres. Someone had to take the first step.

Maybe it will be you. Maybe it will be me.