I know a lot of writers get fed up with having their work labelled. I can see it’s limiting to have your novel firmly dumped into one category, and books vary so much that using any of the standard classifications can only be a very blunt instrument.
That said, I’m still busy trying to find a label for my books (on my own terms, obviously…) I’m after a short, snappy way of describing what I write, for the same reason booksellers are so keen to categorise everything: to reassure my potential readers about what they’ll get if they buy one of my novels. I want to let them know that if they’ve liked a book in a similar category in the past, it’s worth taking a punt on mine.
As Jonny Geller of Curtis Brown said in this TED talk on bestsellers, booksellers find it hard to market something that’s completely original. What works best is a new take on something that’s in some way familiar.
Of course, super-famous writers no longer have to explain what they produce. Their websites tend to announce their name and leave it at that, with no by-lines relating to genre and flavour. But I imagine when they started out they made an effort to get their offering across.
Inspiration came following a recent blog tour I booked with Brook Cottage Books, where I noticed some common themes in the book blogger reviews that resulted. Inspired by this (and in no way giving in to a procrastination spiral…) I took the reviews I’ve had on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com so far for my latest book, A Stranger’s House, and fed them into the word-cloud generator, Wordle.
Here’s the result…
OK, so here’s the real result:
I did cheat slightly by hyphenating phrases that wouldn’t make any sense otherwise, removing the swearing, and taking out words like ‘NetGalley’…
So, it’s a bit of a big label, but I think the exercise has taught me something about where to place my book. (And also the perils of playing with free, online technology. I love you, Wordle. 🙂