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Offline brkingsolver

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Genre question
« on: October 21, 2017, 06:58:21 AM »
I'm working on the concepts for a new fantasy series. I know that fantasy has splintered into hundreds of different settings, so much so that a book might show up on more than a dozen best seller lists at the same time. Some sectors are getting a little crowded, and I think keyword stuffing is placing a lot of books in some strange categories (angels and demons in the contemporary U.S. showing up in Steampunk?).

Anyway, the concept I'm working on would fit well in at least three different primary categories, depending on the world I set it in:

Urban Fantasy

Gaslamp

Complete otherworld fantasy (not medieval)

Any ideas as to what would be best for visibility and sales? UF right now is overflowing with authors publishing 10, 12, 15 books a year. I can't manage that pace, more like 4 books a year. My releases into UF do well, but they die before I can get the next book out. My sales chart looks like the EKG of a heart attack.

Any suggestions/comments on the categories mentioned above?
 

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Online KhaosFoxe

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2017, 07:32:49 AM »
Personally I'd stick with UF. It makes it much easier to promote as it's a clear genre that a lot of people are familiar with. I think you risk putting yourself into a corner if you have either of the other two as your primary. Gaslamp is pretty niche, it'll likely be easier to get to the top 20, but you know how this all works. That top 20 means nothing if there aren't enough people looking for that niche. That and you already have an UF fanbase, so it'll be easier to pull them into a new series if the primary remains the same.

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Offline EllieDee

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2017, 11:10:08 AM »
My instinct is to avoid gaslamp if you're looking for a large audience/sales.  I remember hearing some years back about how it was going to be the next big thing.  Then it just ... fizzled out and has been quietly trundling along ever since.

I know UF is overflowing and you've been down that road before, but my vote might be to stick with it for a little longer?  Possibly for selfish reasons, because I love UF and read it a whole lot, but so much of what's churned out now is completely forgettable and meh.  I think the genre is underserved in terms of really interesting, novel UF.

My runner-up vote is otherworld fantasy.  I have a feeling that genre may get big in the next few years.  People are depressed and frightened these days.  What could be better than escaping to a whole 'nother world?

Online Lorri Moulton

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2017, 11:20:23 AM »
I don't know how many readers are following...but I like Gaslamp.  I do know that a lot of people have told me they love Steampunk and wish there was more out there.  It's one reason they read my book and it's only the theme of the club, not the actual setting for the story.

ETA:  While Steampunk and Gaslamp aren't exactly the same thing, the Victorian influence can be so dark and mysterious.  I really love it!
« Last Edit: October 21, 2017, 11:23:07 AM by Lorri Moulton »

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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2017, 02:41:22 PM »
I originally planned the series to be UF, but then I had an idea about a magical sailing airship. That brought up the idea of where do you sail? Which expanded the world. When I tried to figure out what genre/trope that would be in, it seemed to hit "kitchen sink fantasy". After two series that cross genres, I'm trying to target an audience a little tighter.

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Online KhaosFoxe

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2017, 02:48:34 PM »
I have airships and magical sailing airships in my Ink world. All of those books are marketed as 'UF set in a fantasy kitchen sink world'. I have plans for a series set on one of those airships in the future, it'll still go under UF. That's one of the fantastic things about UF (IMO anyway), is there's so much potential there.


And like EllieDee said, there are a lot of similar books in the genre right now. As a reader I've been struggling to find something new, it's definitely a bit of a risk, but there could be a good pay-off too.

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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2017, 02:58:00 PM »
I have airships and magical sailing airships in my Ink world. All of those books are marketed as 'UF set in a fantasy kitchen sink world'. I have plans for a series set on one of those airships in the future, it'll still go under UF. That's one of the fantastic things about UF (IMO anyway), is there's so much potential there.


And like EllieDee said, there are a lot of similar books in the genre right now. As a reader I've been struggling to find something new, it's definitely a bit of a risk, but there could be a good pay-off too.

I recently finished Seers Stone, and another book about similar airships a couple of months ago, but can't remember the name. That one was in a completely made-up world. Yours has a bit of a Gaslamp feel to it. To be honest, you're probably going to scream when you see this series come out. Not twins, but a brother and two sisters, airships, etc.


« Last Edit: October 22, 2017, 05:42:01 AM by brkingsolver »

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Online Tilly

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2017, 04:22:55 PM »
Gaslamp is experiencing the same miscategorisation issues as other smaller niches like gothic and steampunk. There is one author who is stuffing his sci-fi into gaslamp so he can rank in a small category, despite the fact the books are pretty obviously NOT gaslamp. If you're writing space opera it's not gaslamp FFS!  >:(

It has become the lastest sub-category for all and sundry to stuff their books into, which (once again) is discouraging readers of true gaslamp as they have to sift through the mix bag of genres to actually find a genuine gaslamp novel. Gaslamp is related to steampunk, but has a magical or paranormal element as opposed to steam or mechanical. It should also be anchored in a very recognisable Victorian or Edwardian era, and some readers like their gaslamp to have gothic tones. If you want to take a very strict look at the tropes a book should be either steampunk or gaslamp, not both. But there seems to have been a rush by steampunk authors to shove their books into gaslamp as well.

What's happening in gaslamp and gothic are my soap box rants, as they are the two genres close to my heart! lol

Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2017, 04:53:12 PM »
This series would NOT be steampunk. While some of the machines might have similarities to those in steampunk, they are powered by magic. Steam and clockwork are not employed.

I would prefer to use a world without internal combustion engines, airplanes and machine guns. Once you take urban fantasy back a hundred years, isn't that gaslamp?

I've read both Lorri and KhaosFoxe's books that they allude to, and agree that Lorri's is UF, while KF's book is UF with strong gaslamp influences.

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Online KhaosFoxe

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2017, 11:14:17 PM »
I recently finished Seers Stone, and another book about similar airships a couple of months ago, but can't remember the name. That one was in a completely made-up world. Yours has a bit of a Gaslamp feel to it. To be honest, you're probably going to scream when you see this series come out. Not twins, but a brother and two sisters, airships, etc.




lol you'll have to tell me more about it.


I might toy with putting one of the series in gaslamp when I go wide, maybe. I've had no complaints from UF readers thus far, and I know that's a far bigger market. It's definitely very competitive so I can see the appeal to calling gaslamp your primary to give yourself a break.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2017, 01:52:42 AM by KhaosFoxe »

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Offline Michele Brouder

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2017, 04:32:05 AM »
Gaslamp? What sorcery is this? Never heard this term before, can someone explain? Am I on the right track when I think CJ Archer's Necromancer series? I can only imagine what other categories are out there that I don't know about. I hate not knowing what I don't know.

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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2017, 05:55:44 AM »
Gaslamp? What sorcery is this? Never heard this term before, can someone explain? Am I on the right track when I think CJ Archer's Necromancer series? I can only imagine what other categories are out there that I don't know about. I hate not knowing what I don't know.
Yes, CJ Archer, VE Schwab, Sara Rothle, Lindsey Buroker, HL Burke, and Kara Jorgenson all write gaslamp, though they may not call it that. It's similar to steampunk in the milieu and settings, but instead of steam being very mechanical, it's heavily infused with magic. My understanding is that it only recently was given its own BISAC code and an Amazon category.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2017, 06:04:28 AM by brkingsolver »

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Online Lorri Moulton

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2017, 07:48:05 AM »
Now, I want to write a Gaslamp story! :)

Steampunk, but not.  Magic instead of engines.  Sounds fascinating! 

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Offline The Bass Bagwhan

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2017, 08:10:57 AM »
I have to ask, how much do these questions matter anymore? With the current saturation of genres and sub-sub categories that have become almost pointless, the emphasis has turned so much to marketing that link directly to a product page. Is ranking in a niche genre valuable? Is even searching within Amazon an effective process we need to consider?
What I'm asking is, if the best results are achieved by targeted FB ads and AMS ads, or other direct-to-title methods, how important is niche genre and even ranking now?
Just wondering...
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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2017, 08:18:44 AM »
Now, I want to write a Gaslamp story! :)

Steampunk, but not.  Magic instead of engines.  Sounds fascinating! 
The thing is, all the advice I've received here and on another forum suggest that I'm best labeling it UF and include gaslamp as one of the keywords. Some of the advice came from two of the authors on the top-20 gaslamp list on Amazon. #1 in UF is in the 200-300 rank, while #1 in gaslamp is closer to 20,000.

Despite all the competition in UF, gaslamp and steampunk are minor genres. Tweaking my concept to fit in a UF setting/world won't take that much effort.

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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2017, 08:22:40 AM »
I have to ask, how much do these questions matter anymore? With the current saturation of genres and sub-sub categories that have become almost pointless, the emphasis has turned so much to marketing that link directly to a product page. Is ranking in a niche genre valuable? Is even searching within Amazon an effective process we need to consider?
What I'm asking is, if the best results are achieved by targeted FB ads and AMS ads, or other direct-to-title methods, how important is niche genre and even ranking now?
Just wondering...

A good question. The issue is visibility. More than AMS or FB, or paid NL advertising, in UF I think people are identifying their next read on Goodreads or in also-boughts. The other thing is that if you are high in the rankings, other authors target you in their AMS ads, which in conjunction with the also-boughts increases visibility.

I'd be interested to others' take on your question.

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Online Lorri Moulton

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2017, 08:37:19 AM »
A good question. The issue is visibility. More than AMS or FB, or paid NL advertising, in UF I think people are identifying their next read on Goodreads or in also-boughts. The other thing is that if you are high in the rankings, other authors target you in their AMS ads, which in conjunction with the also-boughts increases visibility.

I'd be interested to others' take on your question.

I'd be interested, too.

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2017, 11:15:24 AM »
Everyone already knows that genre is one of my trigger issues, right?  :o

Urban fantasy by default implies "real world" setting. If the book is set in another world, it by default can't also be UF. And I really don't care if so-and-so author is in the top ten UF on Amazon with a book set in another world. That (and obviously the point of your question) simply demonstrates how useless genre rank has become on Amazon because everyone just shoves everything everywhere without considering what the readers may want.

The purpose of genre is to help READERS find the type of books they want. It is a form of shorthand that helps a reader quickly identify certain themes, tropes, and motifs that they are looking for. It went to hell in a handbasket on Amazon when authors decided to abuse genre for their own visibility instead.

Visibility should not be a factor when determining a book's correct genre. I don't think anyone would be thrilled it I put all of my books in the romance genre simply because some characters hook up. Just because there are more readers in a certain genre doesn't mean a book should be categorized in that genre.

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Offline ibizwiz

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2017, 01:54:00 PM »
if the best results are achieved by targeted FB ads and AMS ads, or other direct-to-title methods, how important is niche genre and even ranking now?
Just wondering...

As I have been for the past two years. Since "erotica" is now almost exclusively limited to get-me-off shallow shorts and novellas, my story arc-based XXX work does not fit any of the genres. With its polyamory and so-called darker elements, and women who are not interested in finding the one true partner, I understand my potential audience is small. General readers will shy away from realistic sexually-intense stories. So to reach the minority of readers who like long and deep stories, I'll need to bypass genres with direct link ads. Yes, I understand that I can't play the also-boughts and other Amazon games. I can't use 90% of the genre-fied promo services, either, who fear offending the vast majority of readers. I'm not complaining: the way publishing and movies and TV now block and suppress truly adult, thinking-persons' sexual content makes it that much more difficult for any others writing "realistic erotica". My chosen genre may not be listed anywhere (yet), but at least I own it. ;)

Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2017, 03:23:17 PM »
Visibility should not be a factor when determining a book's correct genre. I don't think anyone would be thrilled it I put all of my books in the romance genre simply because some characters hook up. Just because there are more readers in a certain genre doesn't mean a book should be categorized in that genre.

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my original question. The first book in the series hasn't been written yet. The story arc could be set in a variety of genres. What I'm trying to determine is what would be the most profitable genre in which to set it.

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Offline P.J. Post

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2017, 06:21:54 PM »
My advice on stuff like this is always the same: write the best book you can...see where it takes you, and then figure out what genres are the best fit, followed by solid marketing. There's no way to know what the most profitable genre is going to be - "past performance is not indicative of future results".

Offline Vale

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2017, 08:21:59 PM »
Complete otherworld fantasy (not medieval)

Is that a category? I'm not familiar with that one.

Offline KateDanley

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #22 on: October 24, 2017, 09:18:56 PM »
I'd go complete otherworld fantasy.  I feel UF is pretty saturated at the moment and my gothic penny dreadful has never found its footing.  I'd blame it on my terrible writing, but after digging deep into the rankings of gothic/steampunk/gaslamp, it's a pretty niche crowd and there's a lot of competition for a very small market share.

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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #23 on: October 25, 2017, 03:20:18 AM »
I'd go complete otherworld fantasy.  I feel UF is pretty saturated at the moment and my gothic penny dreadful has never found its footing.  I'd blame it on my terrible writing, but after digging deep into the rankings of gothic/steampunk/gaslamp, it's a pretty niche crowd and there's a lot of competition for a very small market share.
Thanks, Kate. That's my feelings and the reason I asked the question. You're the only person other than me who seems to feel that way, however. Congrats on the new book. Glad to see it's doing well.

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Offline KateDanley

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Re: Genre question
« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2017, 05:00:30 PM »
Thanks, Kate. That's my feelings and the reason I asked the question. You're the only person other than me who seems to feel that way, however. Congrats on the new book. Glad to see it's doing well.

Thank you!  There's some algo screwiness going on, but hopefully it's just a timing thing and everything will sort itself out... soon... and not be the new normal...

But to your original question!  The one thing I've started doing when I've begun thinking about making a genre jump is to look at the ranking of the #1 book in the category.  Currently, the #1 book in the Gaslamp Top 100 is #4154 in the entire store and #100 is ranked #774,073 in the entire store.  I take that to mean that the good news is you don't have to hit really high to get in the top 100, the bad news is, it looks like people aren't buying.  Being #1 in the Gaslamp list doesn't even get you a slot in the Top 100 Fantasy (#100 is #639 in the whole store).  Oof.  It's tough... I really love the genre, but from a pure, marketing, cold, business perspective, there seems to be more hunger for straight up fantasy.

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