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Kiss of the Butterfly
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How do I get a genre-bending book review?

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message 1: by James (last edited Sep 18, 2012 07:45AM) (new) - added it

James Lyon Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon James Lyon

Help! I have a problem in that my new novel "Kiss of the Butterfly" doesn't fit neatly into any one genre. Thus far, my agent, several major publishers, and readers have told me that it could fit into any one of the following categories:
-Thriller
-Historical fiction
-Mystery
-Horror
-Literary fiction
-Paranormal
-Vampires

Any advice?


message 2: by Naiya (last edited Sep 18, 2012 02:15PM) (new)

Naiya | 29 comments When you select the genre categories for your book, think in terms of ranking the genres. At the top is the umbrella term. Then some the subgenres.

For example, your novel could be primarily historical with elements of suspense and a vampire character. Or your novel could be first a paranormal thriller that just happens to be historical and have vampires in it. Or it could be a vampire story that just happens to have a bunch of gore in it.

However you do it, you're going to have to boil it down to a couple primary labels.

As an aside, the list above is a bit indulgent. You have fewer categories if you group the similar genres together:

1. Thriller/Horror (Also: if it's thriller/horror, it probably isn't a mystery [ie "detective"] novel, so cut "mystery". Most plots have a mystery element to them--or else they'd be boring--but that doesn't make the book a mystery novel.)
2. Historical fiction
3. Literary fiction (which never plays well with genre fiction. So if your novel really IS literary fiction, just call it literary fiction and forget about 1, 2, and 4).
4. Paranormal (If it's snow, it's cold. If it has vampires, it's paranormal. Use "paranormal" if there are ghosts, etc. If we're talking witches and wizards and werewolves, go "fantasy". If it only has vampires/a vampire, just mention the vampire(s) in your blurb.)

Bottom line, if it's Lit fic, say lit fic. If it's genre fiction, pick the closest umbrella term, and then pair it with a subgenre.


message 3: by James (new) - added it

James Lyon Canary wrote: "When you select the genre categories for your book, think in terms of ranking the genres. At the top is the umbrella term. Then some the subgenres.

For example, your novel could be primarily histo..."


Dear Canary,

Excellent advice. You have given me food for thought.

Now, to figure out the best combination.

Best

James


Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon James Lyon


message 4: by Kevis (last edited Sep 18, 2012 03:47PM) (new) - added it

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 82 comments James wrote: "Help! I have a problem in that my new novel "Kiss of the Butterfly" doesn't fit neatly into any one genre....Any advice? "

Considering the importance of knowing a book's genre in order to properly market it, I'm surprised your agent and publisher didn't determine what your book's genre is. You will definitely see better sales once you've determined the one that best suits your book. I highly recommend reading the following article on choosing your book's genre by Bards and Sages. There's some very "sage" advice in there worth considering that might help you with this problem.

http://bardsandsages.com/juliedawson/...


message 5: by James (new) - added it

James Lyon Kevis wrote: "James wrote: "Help! I have a problem in that my new novel "Kiss of the Butterfly" doesn't fit neatly into any one genre....Any advice? "

Considering the importance of knowing a book's genre in ord..."


Kevin,

you've just alluded to part of the problem. I have no agent or publisher. I did back in 2008 at the time the stock market plummeted and the publishing industry went into panic mode. But the crash of Wall Street caused the publisher to pull out -- and it was a big name.

One of the difficulties the publisher -- and the others who expressed interest prior to the stock market plunge-- had was that they couldn't categorize it neatly by genre. Some said it was horror. Others historical fiction. Yet others paranormal. One editor at a major publishing house had worked with a major world-wide blockbuster best-selling author who ended up getting sued for allegedly stealing his idea about a famous renaissance painting holding a code. This editor thought it was a thriller.

So where does that leave me? The novel doesn't fit neatly into a genre.

Which could lead us to an entirely superfluous discussion of the use of genres, and whether or not it is simply a tool of big publishing and big booksellers to stimulate sales.

In my efforts to promote it, I have contacted various blogs and tried to market it as specific to that blog's genre. This appears to be meeting with success, except for general fiction blogs. But if I ever get sufficient sales to justify publishing in papers, where will that leave me in the bookstore?


message 6: by Kevis (last edited Sep 19, 2012 09:50AM) (new) - added it

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 82 comments James wrote: "So where does that leave me? The novel doesn't fit neatly into a genre.

Which could lead us to an entirely superfluous discussion of the use of genres, and whether or not it is simply a tool of big publishing and big booksellers to stimulate sales."


That certainly is a conundrum. A story is what it is and no amount of marketing exploitation can change that. But it does seem to me that at some point you will have to choose a specific genre, especially if you want to have it sold through bricks and mortar book stores.

Without reading your book, I can't say authoritatively what genre it falls into. It does sound to me as though it's likely either horror or paranormal. As pointed out in the article, setting doesn't define genre. Neither does character. However, theme does. And unless I know the theme of your book, I can only guess the genre.

Canary mentioned some interesting points above, but I personally don't like to think of a book's genre in terms of an umbrella listing of categories. Take for instance, the first Terminator movie. Everyone thinks it's a science fiction movie when it isn't. It's a love story with sci-fi elements. But it's packaged as a sci-fi movie and that's where the confusion sets in. Just because the title character/antogonist is a cyborg doesn't automatically make the film science fiction.

It seems to me that you have a similar situation where because you have fantastical creatures like vampires in your story, people are assuming it's a paranormal book. But as the article says, you don't choose genre based on "whether or not your protagonist is a half-fairy/half-dragon whose best friend is a robot that is reincarnated from an ancient shaman."


message 7: by James (last edited Sep 20, 2012 12:16AM) (new) - added it

James Lyon Kevis wrote: "James wrote: "Kevis wrote: "James wrote: "Help! I have a problem in that my new novel "Kiss of the Butterfly" doesn't fit neatly into any one genre....Any advice? "

Considering the importance of k..."


Kevis,

You hit the nail on the head. Here's the inside story. I wrote "Kiss" because I had a story to tell based on the things I had witnessed first hand in the Balkans -- human trafficking, warlords, dystopian destruction of society, cities under siege, war, mass murder/genocide, rape camps, concentration camps, ethnic cleansing, etc. So too, I had seen brave people take courageous stands against the evil that was encompassing them on all sides as society collapsed. And I met people who constantly sought for hope.

As a political analyst and historian I was well aware that I couldn't deal effectively with these topics through conventional history or political analysis, as it would eventually devolve into moralizing. Rather, I needed something that permitted greater expression and pulled the reader into the experience. So I chose fiction, and "Kiss" was written as sort of a modern version of a medieval morality play about good vs. evil, man's passivity in the face of evil, and the dilemmas people face, and how they struggle to overcome foibles and weakness in the face of life.

During the course of my research in various archives and libraries, I came across frequent references to vampires in folklore, culture and history. Then when I discovered that Dracula had committed a massacre in 1476 at the same place Ratko Mladic massacred 8,000 men and boys in 1995 (Srebrenica), I knew I had found the perfect metaphor.

So the book isn't about vampires, although they are in it and play a role. Similar to Bram Stoker's "Dracula", in which Dracula himself appears very infrequently, in "Kiss" the vampires are very picky about when and how they put in appearances. Even though there are scary parts, it isn't horror. And the paranormal elements are there, but are not the point of either the narrative or the novel. The book spans centuries -- 1476/1732/1950s/1991 -- but it isn't historical fiction per se. And the writing can in many places be termed "literary".

I thank both you and Canary for giving me some useful points to ponder. The problem now is trying to actualize them.

James


Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon James Lyon


message 8: by Kevis (new) - added it

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 82 comments Wish I could be of more help, James. But your book sounds terrific, as does your reasoning for the decisions you made for writing it. I truly hope the answer comes to you regarding your book's genre. It would be wonderful to walk into my neighborhood bookstore and see "Kiss of the Butterfly" staring back at me from the shelves. Best wishes and cheers!


message 9: by Chris (new)

Chris Eboch (chriseboch) This isn't an answer, but I did a guest blog recently for Buried Under Books on "What’s In a Name? The Trouble with Genres":

http://www.cncbooks.com/blog/2012/09/...

Kris Bock


message 10: by James (new) - added it

James Lyon Kris,

I read your post and see you understand completely the dilemma I face. Now, to put on my thinking cap...

Best

James

Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon


message 11: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 726 comments I'm sure this has already been said but you know your book better than anyone..Really sit down and analyze and see where certain elements of your book fit, make a list of the genres and look into plot, place, characters, etc and check off where each sort of fits and which ever the most that are checked off you have your main genre. You also have sub genres and a book can have more than one but yes a main genre of what your book is about is good to have.


message 12: by James (new) - added it

James Lyon ABC News mentioned Kiss of the Butterfly and quoted the author, James Lyon in a story about a village in Serbia that was in fear of the vampire Sava Savanovic.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/v...

Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon


message 13: by James (new) - added it

James Lyon Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon

Vampire Alert!! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...

Over the weekend, the author visited the Serbian vampire villages of Zarožje and Kisiljevo. Zarožje is home to the watermill of the vampire Sava Savanović. Kisiljevo is the home to the vampire Peter Plogojowitz and the first recorded mention of the word "vampire" in history. During the course of the next weeks, the author will share photos, video, and excerpts from his interviews with the villagers in a series entitle "The Vampire Hunter".

Make certain to add the "Kiss of the Butterfly" page to your "interests" list on Facebook to receive all the latest information.


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