Everything you need to know about book genres

New adult, science fiction, or horror – you probably know many book genres. Figuring out which genre your book fits into isn’t always easy. After all, there are tons of book genres and even more subgenres. However, the classification in the right genre is very important, as the following example proves.

Imagine that you have written a thriller that contains erotic love scenes, but these play a subordinate role. Instead of classifying your book as a thriller, choose the book genre erotic novel. This can present you with some challenges. For example, it could happen that your target group does not find the book and therefore it is not bought. Another consequence could be that fans of erotic novels buy your crime novel. You can’t possibly meet the expectations of these fans, because they expect a fiery novel and not a criminal hunt. Because of this, you could get a lot of negative reviews.

To prevent this from happening to you, we will give you tips for choosing the right book genre. Before that, however, we clarify what this is and from which categories you can choose.

What is a book genre and what is a sub-genre?
A book genre is a classification of books into a category according to certain criteria. There are also genres in the field of music, film, and art. They serve as orientation, as they make it possible to select media according to one’s own interests. A book subgenre is another subdivision of a book genre.

Good Reasons Why You Should Know Your Book Genre
The book genre serves as a guide for readers in their search for new reading. Most readers already know what interests them and are looking for new reading material in the corresponding genre. If your book is still unknown, it is often found not by the title, but by the genre.

It helps to place books better
It helps you or, if necessary, your publisher to better place and market your books. Even when you enter a bookstore, you’ll see the books sorted by genre on the shelves. By labeling their bookshelves with genre headlines, bookstores give customers a better overview of the store.

Incorrect purchases are avoided
The avoidance of bad purchases. That’s a point that protects you from negative reviews to some extent. If readers think they know exactly what to expect, but then get something else, they will usually be disappointed.

Types of book genres
There are different types of book genres. Below we introduce you to the large subcategories and explain which subgenres fall into these categories.

Literary book genre
In literature, also called fiction, a distinction is made between poetry, epic, and drama. Each fictitious text can be assigned to one of these three genres.

Poetry is often equated with the word poetry. Through them, feelings, thoughts, and experiences should be expressed. This is usually done in verse or rhyme form. Poetry includes poems, ballads, and songs.

Drama, in short drama, is about an acting poem that is usually written for the theater and is written in dialogue form.

The epic is a narrative written in verse or prose form. The genre epic includes, among other things, novels.

The texts of these three genres can be integrated into the book genre of crime, fantasy, thriller, love story, etc. class. In summary, this means that each fictional text belongs to one of these three genres and at the same time can be assigned to a genre for fictional texts.

Non-literary book genre
Non-literary texts, i.e. non-fictional but fact-based texts, can also be divided into genres. Thus, a non-literary book genre would be the biography or the textbook.

Mixed forms of the book genre
In addition, there are also mixed forms consisting of non-literary and literary texts or mixed forms of various literary genres.

Romantasy would be an example of a combination of two literary genres. In this case, the mixture is romance and fantasy.

Book genres and the subdivision by target group
Books are often classified not only according to book genres but also according to the age of the readers. Then one speaks of children’s and youth books and books for adults.

Picture books, for example, are suitable for children up to 7, children’s books are for children from the age of 8, and youth books are intended to appeal to young adults from the age of 12.

What book genres are there?
There are many book genres and to find out which genre your book fits into, you should know them. The following list of literary and non-literary book genres is intended to give you an overview of the most important book genres.

Development novel: Bildungsroman, Erziehungsroman
Familienroman: Generationenroman, Familien-Abenteuerroman, Familien-Reiseroman
Humor: Comedy
Fantasy: High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Thriller: Action Thriller, Disaster Thriller, Conspiracy Thriller, Science Thriller, Technothriller, Political Thriller, Spy Thriller
Horror: Gothic Horror, Splatter, Paranormal Horror
Romance: New Adult, Erotic Novels, Gay Romance, Chic Lit, Time Travel, Romantic Thriller, Dark Romance, Young Adult
Historical Novel: Historical Crime, Historical Romance
Crime Novel/ Crime Thriller: Country House Thriller, Police Novel, Travel Thriller, Regional Crime, Cosy-Crime
Science Fiction: Dystopias, Artificial Intelligence, Utopias, Cyberpunk
Steampunk: Near-future Sci-Fi, Time Travel Steampunk, Fantasy Steampunk
Social Novel: Coming of Age, Big City Novel

Non-literary book genres
Non-fiction: Historical documentation, non-fiction books on the subject of medicine, photography, poetry, music, nature, pets, culture, health, history, religion, sports, psychology, self-help, home, technology, politics, social sciences, theatre, law, language, economics, etc.
Guide: Cookbook Travel guide
Biography: Autobiography, memoriage
Textbook: Textbook, handbook, scientific textbook

How do I choose the right genre?
When choosing the right book genre, you can follow the following 5 criteria:

Identify core topic
If you had to tell others in a nutshell, in one or two sentences, what your work is about – what would you say? What is the core of your story? Which aspects are rather incidental? What drives your story?

Think as a reader
Who do you want to address with your book? Who should read it? Put yourself in the position of your potential readers and think about how they would proceed when searching for books. In which categories would you search? What search terms would you enter?

Browse given genres
The categorization of book genres can vary between different online stores. Find out in detail which genres are offered. Also pay attention to the numerous subgenres. Then try your book using the one in 1. identified core topic. Write down all the appropriate genres and collect them in a list.

Comparison with other books
Now take a closer look at all noted book genres. Take a closer look at the best-rated works. Does your book fit thematically with them? Would you like your work to appear next to them and be associated if necessary? Would you put your book on the same shelf in a bookstore?

Select and customize genres
There’s no need to break down your genre list, if any, into a single book genre. With epubli you can select up to five genres at the same time. As a self-publisher, you also have the option of changing the chosen genres at any time. So you can experiment a bit and compare the sales figures of the different genres over and over again until you have identified the appropriate categories for your work. In addition to the parent genre, select specific niche categories. These are often less occupied, and you have more chances to place yourself there on the front sales ranks. But remember: every genre has to fit the book content.

What is the most popular book genre?
A 2017 study by Splendid found that the most popular book genre in Germany is crime fiction.

This means that if you like to write thrillers, thrillers, or guides, the chance of more readers increases.

For self-publishers, the book genre of non-fiction, guidebook, thriller, and romance novels is most worthwhile. But even a niche topic can become successful and find many readers, as the competition there is lower. Ultimately, it depends on what you would like to write about and in which area your passion lies. A good book will always sell, no matter what book genre is behind it.