One of my biggest mistakes when I wrote my first book was to write a manuscript longer than any publisher would take in that genre. I didn’t even think to go look at what romance writers were producing. I wanted to tell a good story. If it was good enough, it wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t the word count the publishers wanted, right? WRONG!
Harlequin – probably the biggest publisher of romance novels has an array of categories but the one common thing to all categories – they have a specific word count they publish. My novel – close to 150K – didn’t fit any of them because it was too long. Try taking at least 50K out of a book. It broke my heart to do it.
There are other reasons to research your genre. It might direct you to which POV you use – some genres are almost exclusively 1st person. Others are never 1st person.
Reading your genre also helps because it tells you what tropes are always used (and may need to be avoided or used but in a unique way).
Google is your friend when it comes to this. Look for organizations which feature your genre. I know what you’re going to say – I’m bridging multiple genres. Well good for you. Look up all the genres you’re bridging. If one of them is 50K and the other is 100K you may have to compromise somewhere in the middle.
It’s about more than just the length your novel should be. Researching the genre for your novel allows you to have information about who reads the genre, where they get information about the genre, and more. This is really valuable marketing information.
Other things to look at – what are the covers like; what is the sexual or violence content; or what are the chapter headings like.
Go to the local library and look at all the books in your genre and take note. What colors are used for covers? Blue may be common – so do you want to use blue? Or will using a different color make your book stand out?
Look through the same genre on your favorite book buying site. Look at prices, descriptions, and all the details.
This sounds like a lot of work. It is. It can be a pain but if it ultimately helps you produce a competitive product, it’s worth it. As you write more books you’ll have to do less research if you write in the same genre.
Researching your genre may not feel like it’s sexy but it is a key step which feeds into all levels of writing. It can help you avoid overused tropes for your story and determine how long your story should be. Research will aid you in formulating a marketing plan – yes you should be thinking about marketing before your book is published. It helps to inform you in who is likely to read your novel and how you can reach them. Research is key in many aspects of your writing.