Someone, somewhere, defines and decides what to label things. They put things in categories. They set the criteria for the pigeon holes into which things are stuffed.
The publishing industry is much like the old hardware stores, where walls of tiny little drawers house little parts of an endless variety. Someone in those old stores knew how to find even the most obscure part, screw, or nail. It was a gift.
Those old hardware stores are gone. But, in the publishing industry, those categories are still around. And they change. Sometimes they change year to year. Sometimes they change from one bookstore to another. Even online booksellers have different, often incompatible, categories.
Amazon allows an author to set up the categories for his/her book(s). As the author dives into this, though, restrictions rear their ugly head. Certain topic areas can’t be included in certain age categories, for example. You can’t start with science fiction, and roll down to teen or young adult and then Christian. You have go another way.
Then there are limits to how closely you can define your genre via the categories. Some allow only two or three levels.
When Sudden Mission was first published, the publisher set the primary category as “middle grade.” I thought that included teen or early teen. Silly me. I found out that this put my books in the classification of children’s books. I don’t think the Spirit Missions books qualify as children’s books.
So, when I re-launched the books after that first publisher closed their doors, I set the initial categories as teen or young adult. Then I had to struggle to get things to accept Christian and science fiction as a genre. What fun.
Sometimes the whole category thing gets a bit maddening. I grew up reading science fiction, but that’s not all. I read biographies, mysteries, historical novels, history, drama, and classic literature. Even Shakespeare’s plays. My favorites were Julius Caesar, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, and Midsummer Night’s Dream. So, how does one categorize all that?
Or, how important is it to categorize all that?
Could the entire motivation to read something is for a good story. Interesting and compelling. A good story.
Maybe the only category we really need for books is “a good story.”
P.S. The summer and early fall have been very busy with travel and other things. I hope you stick with me.