Categorising my fantasy novels

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
6,872
I've got two fantasy novels out on Amazon and I'm planning to put out another this year. I'm not sure how to categorise them. They're not violent or miserable enough to be full-on "grimdark", and I fear that fans of that subgenre might be disappointed by the content if sold as such. But they're definitely murky and noir. I've searched for "noir fantasy" and "dark fantasy", but those tend to be paranormal romance/erotica.

Is there a term that would be applicable?
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
20,427
Why bother shoehorning them into a specific category of fantasy ? Publish the books and let the readers make of them what they will. Don't worry about what category of fantasy they might or might not fit into.
 
Last edited:

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
6,872
No problem, @BAYLOR ! To be honest I'd much rather people asked "Is it any good?" rather than "What's it like?" I'd find that much easier to answer!

Okay, @Jo Zebedee. Does this help?

- Not real world but has a historical feel (it's basically a 16th century Italian city-state)
- Low-magic (no magic system as it's so rarely encountered)
- Crime and intrigue rather than heroic adventure
- Flawed characters but trying to do the right thing
- Older characters (so not coming of age or naive heroes learning about the world)
- Lots of twists/surprises
- Female lead

Overall, the closest things I can think of from the fantasy I've read are Lies of Locke Lamora (although it's not as much of a merry romp) and Robin Hobb (less dead dogs). More generally, I was aiming for the fantasy equivalent of a Raymond Chandler crime novel in terms of tone.
 

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
Joined
Apr 9, 2016
Messages
3,335
Grimdark seems to become an increasingly wide label, so sticking it on mightn't be the worst idea.

Uhm. I don't really know enough about the thousand categories and what not Amazon use. But Priest of Bones, which has a lot of similarities, is just Epic Fantasy and Historical Fantasy (say what now). The second in the series is Epic, Historical, and Sword & Sorcery. The categories for Scott Lynch's second includes TV tie ins I think, which has me going ???. The Thief Who Pulled On Trouble's Braids, which is a high profile crime indie fantasy, is just Epic, Contemporary, and Sword & Sorcery.

Ultimately I think there's just not a good label for what you do, and you've just got to be going generic with it as is.
 

sknox

Member and remember
Joined
Mar 25, 2013
Messages
1,766
Location
Idaho
The list of your descriptors sounds pretty close to Guy Gavriel Kay.

One approach you might try is plugging your descriptors into the search on Kindle Store and see what comes up for each. And remember that while you can only have three categories at first, you can take steps to give yourself up to ten. Plus you can stuff the keywords. I'm not entirely sure how effective tweaking the latter might be. After a certain amount of marketing strategies, I just get bored.
 

tinkerdan

∞<Q-Satis
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
5,346
Location
x² + y² = r²:when x~∞
Trying to find similar types of stories I have read I came up with a few that were often YA: unfortunately.
However they were Action and adventure; fantasy.

An then so was this set of books.
one of the others was this on.
 

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
6,872
Incidentally, this might be of interest

It is interesting, but it's also slightly depressing. So much of marketing is counter-intuitive. I find myself worrying that I will either spend a huge amount of time for no result, or will do some small and understandable thing that ruins all my previous efforts. I also have no maths ability and almost a negative amount of skill in social media: it basically repulses me. So if I am to improve at this - and I feel that I owe it to my writing to do so - I am going to have to fight against the urge to chuck it all on the floor because it involves things that "flick the depression switch".
 

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
Joined
Apr 9, 2016
Messages
3,335
It is interesting, but it's also slightly depressing. So much of marketing is counter-intuitive. I find myself worrying that I will either spend a huge amount of time for no result, or will do some small and understandable thing that ruins all my previous efforts. I also have no maths ability and almost a negative amount of skill in social media: it basically repulses me. So if I am to improve at this - and I feel that I owe it to my writing to do so - I am going to have to fight against the urge to chuck it all on the floor because it involves things that "flick the depression switch".

Almost exactly the words the person who sent me this used - they didn't use slightly.

I guess the only thing I can offer here - other than a great deal of sympathy - is the idea of exposure therapy. Pick little bits that don't feel too intolerable and do them, then maybe a little bit later add others. There's days when I use twitter solely by posting some links, then going onto the profiles of a few people I know post fun stuff and interacting with them to pretend to the algorithim I'm not a soulless robot, then log off. Very cynical, but at least enjoyable and quick.

Although I drift. What you need is for Crime Fantasy to become a recognised genre tag, as that's the one that'll actually really funnel people.

Also how do the keywords work for books on Amazon?
 

sknox

Member and remember
Joined
Mar 25, 2013
Messages
1,766
Location
Idaho
>spend a huge amount of time for no result, or will do some small and understandable thing that ruins all my previous efforts
This is pretty much guaranteed for all artists of all stripes in all eras. You just gotta swallow hard and accept this. On the other hand, you might do some small, incomprehensible thing that leads to unexpected success. So there's that.

>a negative amount of skill in social media: it basically repulses me
I don't understand this statement at all. Especially when it's posted on a forum, one of the first forms of social media. All we're doing is talking via writing. What's not to like? Except the other guy, I mean. <g>
 

Montero

Senior Member
Supporter
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
3,058
Location
Up the clum
This forum is fairly different from a lot of Twitter and Facebook.
There are bits of Twitter that can sound like on here, people snarking rather than gushing but....
 

sknox

Member and remember
Joined
Mar 25, 2013
Messages
1,766
Location
Idaho
I read the thread (an annoyingly fragmented version of a blog post) and came away with a different impression. There are some crucially important conditional clauses in there. *IF* you have nailed the cover, blurb, and title. Good grief! I'm a first-time author and I'm expected to know how to do those things? Or even, if I hire it out, to recognize good work from average? And if I get it wrong, I'm doomed, first step out the door.

Because look at the other conditional clauses. IF the algorithm has identified your audience. But not a word on how to recover if the algorithm has it wrong. Or, more likely, if the author is unable to tell things are going wrong (expectations set too high or too low) until recovery has drifted beyond the horizon of possibility.

Then there's IF people see your book (on launch day). And how is that supposed to work, without extra marketing? And then are you running the risk of having sales go down on subsequent days and having Al G. Rithm decide people don't like your book and you are doomed but in a different direction.

The one thing I do sort of agree with is that a first-time author shouldn't bother with pre-orders. But that's not specific enough. If my last book sold only ten copies in six months, should I try pre-orders on the next one? Does it matter if the next one is V2 in a series or is a separate stand-alone? What if I sold a hundred copies in six months? A thousand? Or is the key variable how many on my mailing list? Or is it the open rate on that list?

For me, it got to the point where I could identify so many variables, so many of which were impossible even to set parameters for, that I gave up on the notion that I can control much.

Except.

I can make a good web site. I can publish a newsletter regularly, regardless of number of subscribers (or post to a blog or whatever form one chooses over silence). I can work hard on copy--blurb, Amazon description, back cover description, elevator pitch, all that sort of thing. It's all writing, which I'm supposed to be good at. I can pay attention to categories and keywords at Amazon (but I don't necessarily need to tweak them endlessly). And I'm willing to throw a certain amount of cash at advertising and promotions. I've already accepted that I'm going to spend a few thousand dollars a year on this writing gig. But not a thousand a month (as some do).

Those things are not just within my power and resources, they are comprehensible to me. I have faith that I will slowly learn some of the other mysteries of promotion, not least because I've learned some (see above) over the past ten years. I also know I won't learn them all and even if I did, they will be in constant flux. That's ok. Life is change, as the poet sayeth. How it differs from the rocks.
 

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
6,872
Well said.

Ok, to be more specific: this forum is just talking. I'm not trying to sell anything to you guys right now - you might decide that my books sound interesting from my posts and go out and buy them, but that would be a nice addition, not an objective. I'm thinking more of going out onto the internet to sell.

I think what drives me away is the hard-sell stuff, especially where it's done with a "lifestyle" angle. So much of it feels insincere. I realise that my own stuff doesn't have to be like that (nobody's does) but it does put me off. (And also, more broadly, there's so much unpleasantness on social media these days that it's offputting generally.)
 
Last edited:

Similar threads


Top