This week’s topic is one near and dear to my grizzled, cynical old heart—adjusting to the nightmarish landscape of book classifications.

Some writers have no problem with this stuff, and hey, more power to you. But as I wrote in What I’ve Learned In Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business, “If you don’t write serial fiction, be prepared to adjust your sales expectations accordingly.”

I know serial fiction is all the rage these days. I get it. But I’ve never been a genre guy. I grew up on Dickens, Vonnegut, Hemingway, Faulkner, Balzac, and other writers who wrote Fiction. No one ever suggested that The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins should be categorized as Detective Fiction or that A Tale of Two Cities was an Unrequited Romance novel.

 

 

Classifications And More Classifications

Over time, something weird evolved, or rather, devolved in my beloved bookstores. The categorization fever that overtook my favorite record store began to overtake the publishing world, too. Where once was only Fiction, now there were shelves and shelves of Detective and Romance and Mystery and…well, you get the idea.

If you write something that falls into categories similar to what I write (literary, metaphysical, and so on), you can’t expect every reader to get that your fiction doesn’t comfortably fit into a genre.

I’ve written about this before, but ultimately, here’s what happened: I added Time Travel Fiction and Action and Adventure Literary Fiction to my IngramSpark listing for Whizzers, but Amazon didn’t seem to go for it, and sub-categorized the ebook as Metaphysical Fiction and Metaphysical Science Fiction ebooks—straight from the Department of Redundancy Department. Then they sub-categorized the paperback as Fantasy Action & Adventure and Time Travel Fiction.

 

 

And the Winner Is….

Here’s how the categories and subcategories ultimately stacked up for my books: 

Whizzers – Metaphysical Fiction, Metaphysical Science Fiction, Biographical Fiction

Brothers’ HandHumorous Literary Fiction, Psychological Literary Fiction, Dark Humor

Miles of Files – American Humorous Fiction, Humorous Literary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction

Jana – LGBTQ+ Genre Fiction, Gay Fiction

Again, not a satisfactory result, but that’s about as good as it ever got. And the reason all this stuff is so important? If you don’t categorize your book, Amazon will do it for you.

Even in my example, I still don’t think they got all the sub-categories right. Imagine the mess they would have created if I hadn’t got my IngramSpark listing dialed in properly. When books aren’t categorized properly, the wrong readers find them—readers who dislike that type of book, maybe even feel they were misled into buying your book.

robot

When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us?

I’ve been writing about machine learning and artificial intelligence quite a bit lately for work. Evidently, you can now use AI to organize all your files, create marketing and advertising, and perform repetitive accounting tasks. Oh, by the way: you can also use it...

Talk of der Führer at the Local Library??

This past weekend I had a pretty weird, disturbing experience related to Nazism, which I only documented on my personal Facebook page. In retrospect, it's probably just as good for blog fodder as anything else. I must be a little naive, because somehow I've managed to...
slow

How Fast Is Too Fast? And How Slow Is Too Slow?

Do you crank out copy at a fast and furious rate? Or are you “the slow one,” the writer who labors over every word, phrase, or even punctuation mark? Or, even more weirdly, are you one of those writers who strikes a happy medium between racing and plodding? I must...
coding

You Can’t Do It All—And You Don’t Have To!

I wrote a post a couple weeks ago called What I’ve Learned In Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business. One of the points ran as follows: Even if you're traditionally published, you still have to do a lot of the heavy marketing lifting. As an indie, be prepared...
holidays

Books: Great Holiday Gifts, or The Greatest Holiday Gifts?

I saw a cartoon the other day that features a character who's starting to sing, "It's beginning to look a lot like..." A second character quickly and quietly puts the first character down, saying, "Shh. Sleep now." Dark stuff, right? But hey, these are dark times—in...
radio shows

Radio, Radio

Normally, when I've done radio shows, it's been related to promotion of a novel, or of my novels in general. This week, it's something completely different. (If you got the Monty Python reference, kudos. If not, Google them after you read this post. Then thank me in...
book

Who Gives A Damn About Your Book?

Back in April, I wrote a blog post called What I’ve Learned in Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business. Since I have  those six years of experience, I figured I’d list six things I’d learned—not necessarily one per year, but one for each year. The response was...
holidays

Happy Holidays from Mike Sahno – Author, Speaker, Publisher

I suppose I’m courting controversy right out of the gate just by using the phrase Happy Holidays. I get that. But I’m also pretty sure it won’t upset most of my readers! My wife Sunny and I would like to wish a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Solstice, Kwanzaa,...
racism

Would You Like A Side Order of Misogyny, Prejudice, or Homophobia With That?

I didn’t intentionally set out to write a new novel addressing the rampant intolerance, Islamophobia, and racism in America today. I really didn’t. My novels always start with a character, or characters. Sometimes their actions get pretty hectic right out of the gate;...

The Marketing Thing Vs. The Working Thing

Last week, I took a vacation with my lovely wife, and missed doing a blog post entirely. I see where WordPress has an option of writing and scheduling posts, but frankly, I was too busy doing that with my monthly newsletter. I figured I could ignore the blog for a...