In a podcast I took part in yesterday with some ex-FBI undercovers (now crime authors), we talked about whether genre even matters with crime fiction. There are crime thrillers, crime dramas, police procedurals, cozy mysteries and more. But are those labels even necessary in the age of Amazon?
I'm hearing two arguments. The first states genre doesn't matter at all. Recommendations from friends and reviewers matter. That's how people purchase novels now.
The second states that genre matters more than ever. With so much inventory out there, a crime reader needs a bit of guidance to find what he or she is after.
The panel, including myself, fell somewhere in the middle. Genre is useful when marketing, but not during the writing process. But I get in the impression a large contingent of authors and readers fall into one of those two camps.
What do you think? Does genre even matter?
P.S. You can listen to that podcast panel here on CrimeSpace.
I was thinking about this post today while I was in Third Place Books, one of Seattle's real treasures. I noticed that all the mysteries and thrillers were together whether they were literary mysteries, cozies, or whatever. But what most had was some sort of a testimonial on the front cover. Harlen Coben liked this one and Elmore Lenard like that one Patricia Cornwall thought this one was terrific, and James Ellory liked that one. This association makes readers think that if they like Mr. Coben (or whoever) they'll find a similar experience with the new book.
So the label seems to be important to bookstores and the association seems to be more important to the reader. I think. Maybe not. Crap, I've got no idea. I'm checking out for the day.
I believe genre does matter. Readers dislike and like different genres and a lot only read what they like. So I think genre categorization is important. It's the same with movies and music. People like certain things. For most readers, there are genres they might love and genres they cannot stand and would never read.
I think it does get confusing because now so many main genres are breaking out into all these subgenres but I definitely think it matters. How would people know what they love to read if not for the genres they go by? You don't always just go by an author because some authors write in different genres, etc.
So I do believe genres are still very important and I say that as a reader, not just writer. Some genres I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot-pole while there are others I'm addicted to.
I think it's important for writers too because how are you gonna know how to sell your work and who your audience is if you can't even classify the type of novel you've written?