When it comes to publishing any writing project, it is important to understand who is going to be reading your work. Are you writing for yourself? Are you writing for a friend? Are you writing for children? Too many times writers get hung up with audience and genre. They assume this is a way for someone else to control their writing. But writing is my art. It’s unique. It’s an extension of who I am… Right, I get it, you’re a free spirit, hooray. You want your work to be seen as raw as when you put pen to paper. I understand this. However, what if you have your manuscript in hand, ready for publication, and you must choose five publishing companies out of a thousand to send it too, how do you choose? You want to be published, don’t you? So, doesn’t it make sense then, to choose the publishing company most likely to publish your work? This is where genres and audience come in to play. Who are you writing for, and why? In most cases, where publication is concerned, you are writing for an audience.
Your audience, or readers, are your best friends. They are the ones who give you a shoulder to cry on, they pick you up when you fall (after laughing hysterically), they are the ones that get the “real” you. Artist! So, on what medium are you most likely to find your audience? Are you writing a novel you hope to get into print? Are you writing an e-book? What about a blog? Each medium has its own set of guidelines. If you are writing for a newspaper, there are limitations on length, language, content, political correctness, etc. Ugh! F-ree spirit! Whereas a blog gives the writer more independence over their writing depending if it’s a personal, or professional blog.
How does genre fit in? The more specific you adhere to a genre, the more chance you have of your targeted audience discovering your work. That is not to say that you can only pick one genre and stick to it. Like, I will NOT be defined! Most fiction fits comfortably into several genres. For example, Harry Potter. What genre would the Harry Potter books fall under? Does it fit multiple genres? To get a good understanding of genre specific books, think about a library, or a bookstore, and even Amazon.com. Books are arranged in genres. Genres are simply a way to categorize your books so you have the best chance of reaching your audience.
Does this mean you have to change your writing process? Does this categorize you as an author? Of course not. A genre doesn’t mean you have to step out of your Zen-like state of mind to please the world. Creative writing isn’t about conforming to rules. It is about expression, and letting loose all of the inner chaos that scrolls through our brains. But don’t let the idea of a genre scare you either. Many well-known authors, such as James Patterson write books in several different genres. Just think of genres as a way to keep in touch with your audience, your BFF.