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In my experience, a nebulous space is a bad place to be. I get where you're coming from, and I guess you posted this question because you understand the consequences of not being able to categorize your series.

I would say it's more dystopia than post-apoc (which still comes under SF for some reason on Kindle categories). Use your keywords to place it in all the categories you suggested, then see which ones stick.

I remember seeing a reviewer complain about the fact that an author did not reach the full apocalypse in his first book in a series, so you'll get some backlash. On the other hand, that book and series turned out quite successful, and the first novel was about solving a crime in the wilderness (trying to remember the name but it escapes me) by using a native American tracker to find a missing person ( I think).

Giving the series a title like The Breakdown of America might mitigate against the first book not being a full blown in-your-face SHTF story, but I confess I've not tested the market with that concept. Mild crossovers I've tried in other genres failed for me, so I cannot claim any expertise in this area.
 

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Writing a long series with multiple books taking place before the cataclysmic event, then during, and then after.

How would you categorize this? It's not strictly post-apoc, though it will be later on.

There is a fair amount of societal degradation taking place because everyone knows the apoc is coming, even if it's months away. The breakdown of civil society is occurring in the lead up. So, there'd be some aspects of dystopia, but not the full-on definition of a dystopia.

I'm at a loss how to categorize this. Science fiction? But, there's crime involved. A lot of action as well.

I seem to be in this nebulous space between the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Action/Adventure, and Science Fiction realms.

Any advice you might have would be appreciated. Thanks.
Do you know of any series that follow a similar arc as yours will?

What genre and categories are they in?
 

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This is very secondhand information, because I hate zombies, but I have a few friends that love everything Walking Dead. If I'm right, there's a prequel series that leads up to the apocalypse, but I'm sure they didn't linger too long on normal life, similarly to The Stand. I'm not sure how much readers are going to be interested in pre-apocalypse when they know apocalypse and post-apocalypse are right around the corner. You could have your cake and eat it too if you pull a Lost, including pre-apoc content and character development through flashbacks, that way readers don't have to read a huge chunk of it all at once. Just some ideas!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes, I definitely want to nail down the category. The sooner the better.

It's a tough one, because it's basically The A-Team, but set against the backdrop of this looming catastrophe which everyone knows is coming a couple of years down the road.

I don't want to upset readers any which way. So, I don't think I'd be well-served to change tack a few books in and then not have the event happen once I reach that point in the timeline. But, at the same time I find the threat of the thing happening, and the inherent societal degradation fairly interesting from a story/character development standpoint.

I appreciate your input. I might have to re-work this thing to make sure it's clearly definable in a category.
 

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Yes, I definitely want to nail down the category. The sooner the better.

It's a tough one, because it's basically The A-Team, but set against the backdrop of this looming catastrophe which everyone knows is coming a couple of years down the road.

I don't want to upset readers any which way. So, I don't think I'd be well-served to change tack a few books in and then not have the event happen once I reach that point in the timeline. But, at the same time I find the threat of the thing happening, and the inherent societal degradation fairly interesting from a story/character development standpoint.

I appreciate your input. I might have to re-work this thing to make sure it's clearly definable in a category.
What about starting the series with the first book taking place at the start of the cataclysm and going to the end of the series, and then when you're finished that part, you could do a book, or a trilogy or whatever, that details how society got to that point? You'd have already set up the series in a definitive way, so readers would know what to expect, and you could use that to your advantage with marketing and such?
 

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i like Shayne's thoughts. you can write the books in whatever order works for you, and in your "Event" books you can reference previous stuff, but then publish the pre-Event separately. i think they would work better as "connected" books, not as a series
 

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Yeah, it might be a tough one. If the apoc is looming, then it could be dystopian. I just think post-apoc comes with a certain image in mind and maybe people won't get that image until later in the series. I did a book a while back that was kind of post apoc but it was characters telling campfire stories to each other about life before the nuts times. That gave me the setting of the post apoc but the freedom to get out of the dark whenever I wanted to. It was kind of fun.

Mostly though, I just wanted to say how cool of an idea the A-Team in post apoc setting sounds. I can imagine them on the days leading up to things trying to do everything to stop it and then it still happens. That's extremely dystopian. And then what does a cocky A-Team do after it all went down? The setup gives a lot of really cool questions. I like it!
 

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This is a thread after my own heart as I'm in the process of writing a dystopian saga backwards from the future (due to my own incompetence, not because I think it's clever).
In this saga, the apocalypse occurs due to perpetuation of trends in place today (normalisation of astronomical sovereign debt, an aloof financial superclass, growing outrage at Climate Change and a complacent economic model of perpetual growth, etc etc). I will add in a few spicy intrigues. Surprisingly few people are writing about this, given that it is certain to happen. I think the trick is to keep the tension high as the MC goes through adventures in the lead-up to the final slide. Great events like social collapse don't just suddenly happen, they brew for decades and the actual event is often quite undramatic (as in the case of the collapse of the Russian monarchy in 1917). It's the fall-out afterwards as opportunists go into action that generates the excitement.
So, I would not worry too much about short-changing your readers.
 

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I've just put a just put a post apocalytic - dystopion trilogy up for preorder. The first few chapters start with pre-apocalypse until the disaster. Basicly the opening chapter show the pre to post life of the MC, but the genre is firmly entrenched as post apocalytic and as it deals with th society after the event, it's firmly in the dystopian camp.

Most stuff I've read starts before and disaster with the following BISAC codes for catagories.
fiction - science fiction - Apocalyse - Post apocalytic
fiction - dystopian
 

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I have a short story set in the days before an apocalypse. I categorized it as post-apocalyptic anyway. Your story is either dystopian or it isn't (and mine wasn't) so you may need to choose the closest category, even if it isn't perfect. Since you're spanning pre and post apocalypse, post-apocalyptic sounds fine to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Great replies here, a lot of good food for thought. Thank you.

I guess I'm trying to have my cake and eat it too. I'm really wanting to hang onto the pre-apocalyptic aspect because a few of the plotlines involve rich people who've decided the cataclysm isn't going to happen (for various reasons), and they hire my heroes to go around the world and take precious artifacts and such which are no longer being guarded as securely (if at all) because everyone sees the futility of it given the world is literally ending. Some of these have already been stolen by other ne'er-do-wells whom my protagonists will have to do battle with in order to secure these items for their clients. Adds an element of conflict I kinda like.

Also - part of the action is fueled by my protags being forced to deal with civil unrest nearly at every turn, no matter where they go around the world. That gives me lots of options for throwing my heroes into danger constantly given a lot of nefarious people will be doing nefarious things because the promise of the world ending on a fairly fixed timeline (asteroid collision) means law and order in many places has largely gone out the window.

If I move the beginning of my series up to the event itself or just prior, I lose a lot of those months of pre-apocalypse drama which could fuel at least a few plotlines which could prove intriguing.

Only thing is... by keeping the series rooted for at least the first few books in the "Before Times", I then have a heck of a time trying to categorize the series, because yeah... pre-apocalypse isn't a thing, is it?

Maybe it is a dystopia then?

A bit of a dilemma here.

From a marketing standpoint maybe I am better off just scrapping everything I've mentioned above with the whole pre-apocalypse stuff, and just setting AFTER the event outright. In that case it would clearly be categorized as post-apoc.

Tough call from a storytelling perspective.

Again, I appreciate all of the insights shared here.
 

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I did this with my new series. Anyhoodles, it's a slow burn economic collapse brought on by the virus we're all going through. I've got it tagged in post apoc / dystopian / men's fiction / horror. The apocalypse actually happens over a few books. First the market crashes and trading is suspended. Then people/goods/food are gathered and redistributed... It goes on from there. I guess it's doing ok still :) First two books out, working on the third.
 

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Great replies here, a lot of good food for thought. Thank you.

I guess I'm trying to have my cake and eat it too. I'm really wanting to hang onto the pre-apocalyptic aspect because a few of the plotlines involve rich people who've decided the cataclysm isn't going to happen (for various reasons), and they hire my heroes to go around the world and take precious artifacts and such which are no longer being guarded as securely (if at all) because everyone sees the futility of it given the world is literally ending. Some of these have already been stolen by other ne'er-do-wells whom my protagonists will have to do battle with in order to secure these items for their clients. Adds an element of conflict I kinda like.

Also - part of the action is fueled by my protags being forced to deal with civil unrest nearly at every turn, no matter where they go around the world. That gives me lots of options for throwing my heroes into danger constantly given a lot of nefarious people will be doing nefarious things because the promise of the world ending on a fairly fixed timeline (asteroid collision) means law and order in many places has largely gone out the window.

If I move the beginning of my series up to the event itself or just prior, I lose a lot of those months of pre-apocalypse drama which could fuel at least a few plotlines which could prove intriguing.

Only thing is... by keeping the series rooted for at least the first few books in the "Before Times", I then have a heck of a time trying to categorize the series, because yeah... pre-apocalypse isn't a thing, is it?

Maybe it is a dystopia then?

A bit of a dilemma here.

From a marketing standpoint maybe I am better off just scrapping everything I've mentioned above with the whole pre-apocalypse stuff, and just setting AFTER the event outright. In that case it would clearly be categorized as post-apoc.

Tough call from a storytelling perspective.

Again, I appreciate all of the insights shared here.
I know you are calling it pre-apocalyse (not a genre, sorry), but to understand the meaning of apocalpyse, it means "revelation." In other words an impending disaster that your story is revealing, even if slow burn. So in effect it is correct to call pre-apocalypse, simply the "apocalypse" genre if it foreshadows a disaster to come. "Post-apocalyptic" is as it it denotes, it is after the event. Hence when you put in your BISAC code at upload, you first check "fiction" then "science fiction" then "apocalypse-post apocalyptic", which are joined together by the hyphen as a complete choice, so you get two bites at the cherry.

Secondly, choosing fiction, again, you scroll down to find "Dystopian" where it relates to an alternative society outcome brought on by the disaster.

I hope that helps..

Edited. You have to consider your target audience if you have not already started the series. Start with it as say a couple of thriller tagged books as catagories, with no foreshadowing of what's to come, then jumping down the line into Post-Apaocalytic - Dystopian will likely have readers not follow the complete series.

As someone has said, you're gonna have to get to that disaster in your first book, preferably early on, to get it to Poat-Apocalyptic for devotees of the genre to not give you kickback. Same for Dystopian.
 

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Telling linear, comprehensive stories is almost invariably a trap. We don't read Chapter 2 because of what we read in Chapter 1. We read Chapter 2 because of what we didn't read in Chapter 1.

You ever see Lost? The central conceit--the part that made it sing--was the framing narratives. Every episode spent about half its time advancing the story in the Present Day (post-apocalypse) and half its time filling in gaps from Before the Accident (pre-apocalypse). That story wouldn't have made a lick of sense if you'd told it from start to finish. The audience would've been asked to remember and care about seemingly irrelevant details for years at a time before they were finally paid off. Nobody would've cared. Nobody would've known what it was about.

If you start post-apocalypse, in medias res, it's child's play to establish your genre. The stakes are obvious and compelling (mostly survival, at a guess). And the best part of all is, the reader doesn't yet know how we got here. That's gold. You can mine narrative drive from that for ages, whether it's through Lost-style flashbacks or something entirely different. All that backstory becomes exposition as ammunition that you can fire off as you go. The past becomes a source of impactful revelations rather than just a whole lot of Previously On... that you have to maintain as you go.

That's probably a terrible thing to think about, since it might sound an awful lot like scrapping three novels or some such. Worth a think, though.
 

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Great replies here, a lot of good food for thought. Thank you.

I guess I'm trying to have my cake and eat it too. I'm really wanting to hang onto the pre-apocalyptic aspect because a few of the plotlines involve rich people who've decided the cataclysm isn't going to happen (for various reasons), and they hire my heroes to go around the world and take precious artifacts and such which are no longer being guarded as securely (if at all) because everyone sees the futility of it given the world is literally ending. Some of these have already been stolen by other ne'er-do-wells whom my protagonists will have to do battle with in order to secure these items for their clients. Adds an element of conflict I kinda like.

Also - part of the action is fueled by my protags being forced to deal with civil unrest nearly at every turn, no matter where they go around the world. That gives me lots of options for throwing my heroes into danger constantly given a lot of nefarious people will be doing nefarious things because the promise of the world ending on a fairly fixed timeline (asteroid collision) means law and order in many places has largely gone out the window.
From the more detailed description you've now given, your pre-apocalypse sounds more like a thriller where the heroes are in a race against time to prevent an apocalypse. If it was a thriller, and if the apocalypse was averted, you'd be golden. But I'm not sure people who read thrillers want to then read post-apocalypse. I mean, there shouldn't be much difference - you can have post-apocalypse thrillers - but I strongly suspect thriller genre readers would stop reading once the heroes failed. It's not what they want.

I've just finished watching the first season of the Umbrella Academy, where the heroes are tasked with stopping an apocalypse. Spoiler alert - they fail. But at the end of the series they do a time travel thing to reboot the sequence, and so the second series will begin with them attempting once more to stop an apocalypse. At no point did the writers contemplate the idea of having the heroes live on in a Mad Max world. That would be genre-hopping. Readers who love post-apocalypse, generally speaking, want to see what the world looks like when it all comes crashing down. They want to inhabit it, so to speak. Those that love thrillers (or weird superheroes) want to see the heroes move through our world as it is, because they want to stay in the world as it is.

In your story, I think you could get away with the asteroid crashing down at the end of the first book (with an added taster of what a reader can look forward to in the second), especially if most of the first book is filled with the societal collapse elements you mention. This genre's readers love to see the actual collapse, gradual or sudden, so if it's in every scene, it can work even though the heroes are trying to stop it. In a post-apoc series I wrote, the first third of the first book was taken up with the run-up to the actual apocalypse, purely to allow me to flesh out the characters and make the readers care about them.

Have the world come crashing down around the heroes' ears, by all means, and give readers a real sense that the order is collapsing. But the readers who enjoy that will want an apocalypse by the end of the book. They won't wait until book three. For that, you could actually write a snappy thriller trilogy and end it on a victorious note, then go on to write a completely different post-apocalypse series to use up the story material you have in your notes. Mixing the two together may not work.
 

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I'm really wanting to hang onto the pre-apocalyptic aspect because a few of the plotlines involve rich people who've decided the cataclysm isn't going to happen (for various reasons), and they hire my heroes to go around the world and take precious artifacts and such which are no longer being guarded as securely (if at all) because everyone sees the futility of it given the world is literally ending.
I'm still not sure what you'd call this story, but I kinda want to read it now. This sounds fun. When you get everything squared away, feel free to let me know, I'd pick one up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
From the more detailed description you've now given, your pre-apocalypse sounds more like a thriller where the heroes are in a race against time to prevent an apocalypse. If it was a thriller, and if the apocalypse was averted, you'd be golden. But I'm not sure people who read thrillers want to then read post-apocalypse. I mean, there shouldn't be much difference - you can have post-apocalypse thrillers - but I strongly suspect thriller genre readers would stop reading once the heroes failed. It's not what they want.

I've just finished watching the first season of the Umbrella Academy, where the heroes are tasked with stopping an apocalypse. Spoiler alert - they fail. But at the end of the series they do a time travel thing to reboot the sequence, and so the second series will begin with them attempting once more to stop an apocalypse. At no point did the writers contemplate the idea of having the heroes live on in a Mad Max world. That would be genre-hopping. Readers who love post-apocalypse, generally speaking, want to see what the world looks like when it all comes crashing down. They want to inhabit it, so to speak. Those that love thrillers (or weird superheroes) want to see the heroes move through our world as it is, because they want to stay in the world as it is.

In your story, I think you could get away with the asteroid crashing down at the end of the first book (with an added taster of what a reader can look forward to in the second), especially if most of the first book is filled with the societal collapse elements you mention. This genre's readers love to see the actual collapse, gradual or sudden, so if it's in every scene, it can work even though the heroes are trying to stop it. In a post-apoc series I wrote, the first third of the first book was taken up with the run-up to the actual apocalypse, purely to allow me to flesh out the characters and make the readers care about them.

Have the world come crashing down around the heroes' ears, by all means, and give readers a real sense that the order is collapsing. But the readers who enjoy that will want an apocalypse by the end of the book. They won't wait until book three. For that, you could actually write a snappy thriller trilogy and end it on a victorious note, then go on to write a completely different post-apocalypse series to use up the story material you have in your notes. Mixing the two together may not work.
Great insights here, this hits at exactly what I was wondering about. Helps me to clarify what I need to concentrate on, and what I need to let go. You've laid out pretty well why straddling the genres is not a good idea, and it's definitely something about which I was feeling uncomfortable, yet couldn't exactly articulate even to myself. Genre-fogginess or rather, non-clearly-defined categories will turn prospective customers away, I believe we've seen that time and again in indie circles.

Reading your post and thinking about the project more clearly has me leaning towards sticking with the thriller side of things as opposed to going full into the cataclysmic event and the aftermath, as those were never the more intriguing aspects of the story for me.

Really, the asteroid collision thing was meant to serve primarily as backdrop, and not meant to be one of the focal points of the story. It was supposed to be a catalyst, I suppose, more so than a plot or subplot unto itself. Anyway, your reply kicked a few brain cells loose, so I have a better handle on it now. Thanks.

I'm still not sure what you'd call this story, but I kinda want to read it now. This sounds fun. When you get everything squared away, feel free to let me know, I'd pick one up.
Hey, thanks! Yeah, I think it has potential to be fun. I'm a long way off from seeing it through to completion, but if I manage to make it happen I'll let you know. :)
 

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Have the world come crashing down around the heroes' ears, by all means, and give readers a real sense that the order is collapsing. But the readers who enjoy that will want an apocalypse by the end of the book. They won't wait until book three.
^^^snip

That isn't necessarily true.
 

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"Pre-apocalypse" makes me think of Ben Winters' very good Last Policeman trilogy, in which an asteroid is scheduled to strike the earth and society is very slowly falling apart in anticipation of it. His publishers appear to have got away with categorising it as post-apocalypse anyway:

 
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