Defining Your Book

The hardest part of being an author isn’t writing a book.

Now that I have your attention, let me repeat. The hardest part of being an author isn’t writing the book.

Yes, you labor over that book day in and day out for what seems like a lifetime. Your characters are so real to you that you may have conversations with them. Each scene is carefully plotted in order to find the right blend of action and description. You’ve spent days upon days developing your characters. And right about now, you’re wondering if I've been smoking those weird cigarettes or took a dive off a cliff right as the waves pulled out.

Let me assure you that I haven’t used any mind altering drugs and cliff diving is not on my bucket list. One other thing—I’m very serious in this statement.

You are about to embark on an adventure that will have you pulling out your hair and wondering if writing another book will be easier.

Just what is that adventure? Why, you’re about to start submitting to publishers. But there is one thing you need to do first—classify what kind of book you’ve written.

“Oh,” you say. “Is that all?”

Yeah, that’s all you need to do. Your new discoveries are about book classification, better known as how you’ll define your book. This adventure is about to put you on a high speed chase on a narrow two lane road, skydiving without a parachute, and sitting still while your two-year-old climbs onto a hot stove. Once you start attempting this feat of daring-do, you’ll decide those other hair raising activities are pretty tame.

“Oh,” you repeat. “Is that all?”

Most people think it’s fairly easy to define their book. After all, you’ve just spend a huge amount of time writing a book you carefully outlined at the beginning. You decided long before you wrote the book what category would define it. Your initial response will be to use thriller, young adult, romance, western, or any of the main categories to define your book.

Stop right there. You are about to make a mistake that will create difficulties to have your book rank high on Amazon and other sales venues. Sure, your book has a certain category you can safely slip it into, but how many thousands or millions of other books are also in that category? Take a peek and realize you are now in the “what will I do to get people to notice my book?” group that is desperately searching through the innumerable Amazon sub-categories to decide which one best fits your book.

I did warn you. A category search can take as long as it took you to write your book. It can consume hours you should be spending on creating promotional material. You are about to give up your sanity as you decide on the best sub-categories that will work for your book and give you the exposure you need.

I’m right there with you. Time for me to start hunting categories for my next book…