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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My next book is imminent. While the blurb could probably use some doctoring and I welcome any advice on that, what I really need most is some category advice. I'm not sure how to place it when I put it up on KDP. Observe the blurb:

Matt Kellogg has a few problems standing between him and his long weekend. His ex-girlfriend is still stalking him. His best friend's recent ex has been spooked by a break-in and needs a place to stay. And the laws of probability are falling apart all around him, thanks to the arrival of a strange gem that glows in the dark and cannot be thrown away.

The jewel, known to paranormal folklore only as the Affix, has adopted Matt as its new keeper and in the process put his friends in danger. Protecting them means contending with a ghost-chasing website curator, hard-bargaining crows, a ruthless collector of supernatural artifacts, an erratic drug lord, a charming but dangerous senior citizen, an all-too-chummy freelance art dealer with a vile reputation, and a gun-toting supermodel.

Keeping all of his friends and most of his sanity intact may be an impossible task-or at least wildly implausible. Matt's one advantage: Implausible is what the stone does best. His only hope is to learn how to handle it, or get rid of it, before it tears his life apart-and everyone he cares about along with it.
When I wrote the book, I considered it a sci-fi, but it actually has few to no sci-fi elements, except in the Twilight Zone sense where something really odd is going on. For this reason I'm still largely inclined to call it a sci-fi. It's not paranormal fantasy; there are no actual ghosts or anything that a reader of that genre would expect to find. It's definitely not generic fantasy. There are action thriller elements, but I don't consider it a true thriller; it might barely qualify enough to fit there as a second category, though I'm not sure what the genre's "requirements" are.

So I feel like I'm left with generic sci-fi. I'm wondering if anyone has any insight that can point me in a better direction or confirm this is the right choice, and if thriller or action thriller is really appropriate. (I haven't brushed up on KDP's actual subcategories for thrillers so I don't know what's there to choose from.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Patty Jansen said:
I'd desribe it as Fantasy
I don't think I could call it fantasy though, because generic fantasy implies a very different world than this. Paranormal fantasy almost implies spirits or werewolves or whatnot. Urban fantasy almost demands some kind of mythical creature in a modern setting; there's none of that.

I keep coming back to the Twilight Zone concept. That show was really nothing more than a lot of what-ifs written out as episodes. Is the episode where the guy ends up in an idyllic little town that doesn't exist not sci-fi? The one where the woman encounters her mirror self in a bus station? The mannequins coming to life? I'd call none of these fantasy. This is almost the kind of gray area I'm working in, in the sense that it's nothing more than an interesting what-if.

Edward W. Robertson said:
In many ways, Paranormal is noir/urban crime + modern + undead/vampires/shifters. Just going from the blurb, it sounds like a fit.
It could hardly be called noir though, it's completely suburban, and there are no literal monsters or ghosts whatsoever. I feel like if I put this under paranormal I'd be begging for bad reviews from people who felt misled just by the category alone. Sci-fi readers at least are more forgiving of a what-if that isn't very sciency, I think.
 
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Urban fantasy, or paranormal...something.  I'm not too familiar with this kind of book, but I wouldn't call it sci fi.
 

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Lummox JR said:
It could hardly be called noir though, it's completely suburban, and there are no literal monsters or ghosts whatsoever. I feel like if I put this under paranormal I'd be begging for bad reviews from people who felt misled just by the category alone. Sci-fi readers at least are more forgiving of a what-if that isn't very sciency, I think.
Well, you've got a lot of signifiers in the paranormal direction. I should probably keep my yap shut, because I'm not an expert on these subgenres. I worked in a bookstore a few years back and have read just a little bit of the field. That's it.

But it sounds kind of undefined. Along with Twilight Zone, what other books/shows do you think it's like? Fans of what other product would enjoy this book? Maybe that will help home in on how to present it.
 

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Supernatural drama.

Or at least, that's what I get from the Wikipedia article of a TV show that had some similar correlations (magic book that's decided the main character is its master, supernatural things happening around/because of it, a satanic cult that's after it, a group of friends...)

I would call it Fantasy before I'd call it Sci-fi.
 

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T.P. Grish said:
Would Contemporary Fantasy fit?
Contemporary Fantasy is real world modern day with fantastic trapings. It is usually the genre chosen to pair with paranormal fantasy or urban fantasy.

In general paranormal fantasy is an emphasis on "supernatural" stuff, as opposed to "spells and magic items" while urban fantasy is any type of fantasy work set in an urbanized setting.

For example, my work is not paranormal fantasy (I have real spells and magic) nor is it contemporary fantasy (it does not take place in our world) but it is urban fantasy (because it is centered around a fictional city-state) . . .
 

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Fantasy does not imply a different world. It implies magic and other phenomena that cannot be explained through science or extrapolated science. SF implies that the book at least makes an effort to adhere to known science. It is definitely not SF.

Paranormal does not mean vampires or werewolves. Neither does urban fantasy. Both terms suit the book as described MUCH better than SF.
 

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A glowing gem stone with an attitude doesn't really seem like science. If there's no science, I would refrain from calling it sci-fi. Seems more like fantasy, to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Edward W. Robertson said:
Well, you've got a lot of signifiers in the paranormal direction. I should probably keep my yap shut, because I'm not an expert on these subgenres. I worked in a bookstore a few years back and have read just a little bit of the field. That's it.
I understand the blurb looks like it leans that way. It's probably closer to the mark to say that the jewel's place as technological or paranormal is up in the air, but paranormal enthusiasts are among those most interested in it. Maybe massaging the blurb in a different direction would help disabuse notions of heavy paranormal activity, but something weird is definitely afoot.

I'm absolutely certain this can't be fantasy or urban fantasy, though. Everything I know about those genres--admittedly not a lot--suggests there are reader expectations that will not be met, and I'd be targeting entirely the wrong audience. And when I think of paranormal I think of a lot of things that really don't fit the story either, and again readers will probably think the book is in the wrong category. Besides, BISAC lists paranormal as a subset of fantasy, not its own thing. I feel like a lot of things are implied by "paranormal fantasy" that don't fit.

But it sounds kind of undefined. Along with Twilight Zone, what other books/shows do you think it's like? Fans of what other product would enjoy this book? Maybe that will help home in on how to present it.
I don't know that it's really like anything. I've never read anything like it, but I don't read thrillers normally and so I don't know how well it'd fit that genre. When I wrote it I was kind of pushing for an Into the Night kind of vibe with a little more upbeat tone, attempting John Landis's kitchen sink approach to throwing in villains and complications.

KGorman said:
Supernatural drama.

Or at least, that's what I get from the Wikipedia article of a TV show that had some similar correlations (magic book that's decided the main character is its master, supernatural things happening around/because of it, a satanic cult that's after it, a group of friends...)
Still though, no magic is involved. At least not overtly; the question of the gem's true nature is left completely open. It's not about what it is, but what it does. The fact that a person who keeps a website listing all kinds of paranormal artifacts would be intrigued by it is kind of a given, but that doesn't make it fantasy. Other characters have more high-tech ideas of what it is. So there's really no magic in the book, no mythical creatures, no appearances by spirits, and no fantasy setting; without any of these, I can find no justification for calling it fantasy. Instinct still says that in the absence of any such elements, all what-ifs default to science fiction.

The question of sci-fi vs. what-else may be superseded if the book is most naturally listed as a thriller. I just don't know enough about thrillers and their sub-genres to say.
 

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Lummox JR said:
Still though, no magic is involved. At least not overtly; the question of the gem's true nature is left completely open.
This is a cop out. The gem's true nature IS known to you, the author. And if you just haven't decided, then you're not fulfilling a requirement of writing: knowing your story/world.

If it is Sci-Fi you can explain what scientific fact or theories the gem operates on. Same goes for techno-thriller.

If it is magic, it is a sub genre of fantasy, period.

If it is supernatural, it's paranormal.
 

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I thought the jewel was magic. It adopts the MC as its owner, cannot be thrown away, and is known to paranormal people. While the latter isn't a given, since it might just have a good ole rumour attracting those folks, the rest is rather paranormal. Brings to mind of some creepy dolls that refused to be thrown away, y'know?

If there is no paranormal in it other than the gem's attitude (which the MC's friends are explaining scientifically) and the paranormal collector (who does not bring ghosts or demons or whatever into play), then by all means go Sci-fi.

I'd agree with massaging the blurb. It kind of points towards paranormal, as it stands now :) Maybe it's quite unclassifiable? Not all books can fit into tidy little genre slots.
 

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"Para" is Greek in origin, and means "to the side of." We all know what normal means, even if none of us qualify as being it. :)

A gem that decides to adopt a person as its keeper certainly qualifies as that. As to the contention that people expect ghosts in paranormal, I wouldn't think that at all. Supernatural, yes.

My book "The Convert" is about normal life, with a small tweak to reality in that certain people can do things (that appear miraculous in nature to us normal folks) most cannot. I classified it as "paranormal fantasy," and have yet to receive a single complaint about it being in that category.
 

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If I saw that blurb under paranormal fantasy or contemporary fantasy, I would think it fit. Sci-fi it absolutely isn't. Nor is it a thriller. You've got a magic stone in there!

Patty Jansen said:
SF implies that the book at least makes an effort to adhere to known science.
OT, but this is only true of 'hard' SF. You get a lot of SF with time travel, faster-than-light starships, etc, which are impossible based on known science.
 

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In the final paragraph of your blurb, can I suggest you change the word "implausible" to "improbable" (keeping his sanity will be an improbable task, but luckily improbable is what the stone does best, etc.)?  That ties in better with the first paragraph where you mention the laws of probability are falling down around him thanks to the gem.  Also, for some reason, improbable just "sounds" like a better word to me in that setting, and I often edit on instinct when two words could work. 

This is totally just my opinion, though, feel free to take it or leave it.  :)
 

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Hmm, I'm not getting any science fiction vibe off the blurb. Unless it is some sort of alien entity and detailed quite clearly in the book I doubt science fiction would work here.

It sounds mostly contemporary fantasy.

There are some thriller stories with a magical or supernatural element in the core. But that choice would depend on how you wrote the story. Can't tell that from the blurb.

 
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