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Genre definition help

For discussions of historical fiction. Threads that do not relate to historical fiction should be started in the Chat forum or elsewhere on the forum, depending on the topic.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3562
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Genre definition help

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu January 29th, 2015, 5:48 pm

Hey forum friends, I am trying to figure out how to classify the novel series I have been grinding away on for the last six years or so. I'm going indie, and apparently NOTHING is more important for 'discoverability' (that's the new word for plain old marketing) than classifying your work in the correct genre and sub-genre.
This has me scratching my head a bit. So I thought I'd ask.
could you give me examples of novels you think fit the following labels?

Historical Romance
Action-adventure
historical suspense
historical mystery
anything that focuses on multicultural and religious conflict--without being a 'sweeping saga'

any genres at all that include animal elements, without being entirely about animals?

Thanks.
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Thu January 29th, 2015, 5:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Nefret
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 2977
Joined: February 2009
Favourite HF book: Welsh Princes trilogy
Preferred HF: The Middle Ages (England), New Kingdom Egypt, Medieval France
Location: Temple of Isis

Post by Nefret » Thu January 29th, 2015, 7:21 pm

Historical mystery- the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters (Victorian), Lieutenant Bak series by Lauren Haney (Ancient Egypt), Lord Meren series by Lynda S. Robinson (Ancient Egypt). Those are a few I've read.
Into battle we ride with Gods by our side
We are strong and not afraid to die
We have an urge to kill and our lust for blood has to be fulfilled
WE´LL FIGHT TILL THE END! And send our enemies straight to Hell!
- "Into Battle"
{Ensiferum}

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Lisa
Bibliophile
Posts: 1153
Joined: August 2012
Favourite HF book: Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
Preferred HF: Any time period/location. Timeslip, usually prefer female POV. Also love Gothic melodrama.
Location: Northeast Scotland

Post by Lisa » Thu January 29th, 2015, 8:09 pm

I'll have a think and come back, but in the meantime you could check how (the majority of) people have shelved/tagged books on Goodreads or LibraryThing that might fall into the same genre(s).

Also re the marketing speak, we just did a "pricing uplift" on some products at work. That's a price increase :confused:

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Misfit
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Posts: 9581
Joined: August 2008
Location: Seattle, WA

Post by Misfit » Thu January 29th, 2015, 9:09 pm

I'm going to have to ponder on this for a while. Historical romance cuts a wide swath, depending on who is doing the categorizing. Lol, Overdrive lumps the romances in with the historical fiction category. Amazon is quite a mish mash too, I see tons of straight up romances being listed on the historical fiction best sellers list.
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

User avatar
MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3562
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu January 29th, 2015, 10:12 pm

Historical romance is the strongest category, and all my books have some romantic element (they deal a lot with sex, too, but they aren't erotica, probably just the opposite). But the various shelving pundits say that if you label a novel 'romance,' it better have a happily-ever-after or you'll have a bunch of infuriated readers giving you a one-star.
Not that my books are tragedies, I like to end on an up note. But they don't really fit happily-ever-after, either. I would categorize the endings as 'well, things are still pretty dicey, but there's hope'.
Doesn't seem to be a genre for that. :rolleyes:

User avatar
Nefret
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 2977
Joined: February 2009
Favourite HF book: Welsh Princes trilogy
Preferred HF: The Middle Ages (England), New Kingdom Egypt, Medieval France
Location: Temple of Isis

Post by Nefret » Thu January 29th, 2015, 10:37 pm

I've found a lot of people of Goodreads call Elizabeth Chadwick historical romance, but I call her historical fiction. There are more romance plots in the early books, but it's still HF to me. I think 'romance' used to mean something different.
Last edited by Nefret on Thu January 29th, 2015, 10:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Into battle we ride with Gods by our side
We are strong and not afraid to die
We have an urge to kill and our lust for blood has to be fulfilled
WE´LL FIGHT TILL THE END! And send our enemies straight to Hell!
- "Into Battle"
{Ensiferum}

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Mythica
Bibliophile
Posts: 1095
Joined: November 2010
Preferred HF: European and American (mostly pre-20th century)
Location: Colorado
Contact:

Post by Mythica » Thu January 29th, 2015, 11:21 pm

[quote=""MLE (Emily Cotton)""]Historical romance is the strongest category, and all my books have some romantic element (they deal a lot with sex, too, but they aren't erotica, probably just the opposite). But the various shelving pundits say that if you label a novel 'romance,' it better have a happily-ever-after or you'll have a bunch of infuriated readers giving you a one-star.
Not that my books are tragedies, I like to end on an up note. But they don't really fit happily-ever-after, either. I would categorize the endings as 'well, things are still pretty dicey, but there's hope'.
Doesn't seem to be a genre for that. :rolleyes: [/quote]

I don't think having a romantic element necessarily means it's historical romance. Even Bernard Cornwell's novels - which are certainly not marketed as romance, tend to have some romantic element in them. Equally, SKP usually has some romance in her novels (often more then one) but they are not marketed as such. She will even often invent a romance between fictional characters, because so often the historical relationships go so badly and she has said she likes to give readers a happy ending for at least some of the characters. But the only one of her novels I might call romance is Here Be Dragons.

For me personally, I consider romance to be novels where the main theme or intent of the story is romance. There might be other elements to prevent it from being one-dimensional but they are more like sub-stories than the main plot. If the romance is just one of the sub-stories, it shouldn't be categorized as romance.

For example, the reason I say Here Be Dragons might be considered romance is because the main theme of the novel is about the romantic relationship between the two main characters. There's lots of other stuff going on but it's mainly about those two. In most of her other novels, her romances are really just sub-stories, not the main theme.

Another example, there's a historical mystery series which has a strong romance too - but I'd firstly consider it historical mystery, even though the author is otherwise primarily a romance writer: https://www.goodreads.com/series/41279- ... -mysteries - as you can see, it does get tagged as romance too but many more people shelved it as mystery. On Amazon, it does not get categorized as romance at all. That's because the main theme is mystery and the romance (as good as it is) is just a sub-story.

I am always hesitant to read novels marketed as romance - mainly because I never know if I'm going to get one which is mainly about the romance, or entirely about the romance. I've picked up too many historical romances where literally the ONLY thing going on in them is the romance. I'm not exaggerating - the history, the politics, the culture, etc are practically nonexistent and there is zero character development among any character other than the main two (or three if there's more than one love interest). It's so one-dimensional, boring, and flat. So while there are some good romances out there that bring other elements into their story, I hate taking the risk and tend to avoid anything labelled "romance".

I guess maybe you have to ask yourself "why did I write this story?" Was it mainly to tell about the romantic relationship between two or more characters? If not, then I would not call it romance.

I don't know if that helps or not!

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Mythica
Bibliophile
Posts: 1095
Joined: November 2010
Preferred HF: European and American (mostly pre-20th century)
Location: Colorado
Contact:

Post by Mythica » Thu January 29th, 2015, 11:27 pm

[quote=""Nefret""]I've found a lot of people of Goodreads call Elizabeth Chadwick historical romance, but I call her historical fiction. There are more romance plots in the early books, but it's still HF to me. I think 'romance' used to mean something different.[/quote]

I've only read two Chadwick books and both may have been earlier ones, but I definitely felt they were very romancy. Not the one-dimensional kind, there's plenty else going on in them, but the main theme still seemed to be about the main couple.

User avatar
Nefret
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 2977
Joined: February 2009
Favourite HF book: Welsh Princes trilogy
Preferred HF: The Middle Ages (England), New Kingdom Egypt, Medieval France
Location: Temple of Isis

Post by Nefret » Fri January 30th, 2015, 12:25 am

[quote=""Mythica""]I've only read two Chadwick books and both may have been earlier ones, but I definitely felt they were very romancy. Not the one-dimensional kind, there's plenty else going on in them, but the main theme still seemed to be about the main couple.[/quote]

Of the early books I've read, I think The Conquest and the Love Knot have the most romance plot. Those are actually two of books I read first, and really liked. I'm currently reading the Summer Queen, it's more a historical novel.

I agree about SKP, Here Be Dragons is more romance-like.
Into battle we ride with Gods by our side
We are strong and not afraid to die
We have an urge to kill and our lust for blood has to be fulfilled
WE´LL FIGHT TILL THE END! And send our enemies straight to Hell!
- "Into Battle"
{Ensiferum}

User avatar
Misfit
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 9581
Joined: August 2008
Location: Seattle, WA

Post by Misfit » Fri January 30th, 2015, 12:42 am

I've seen at least one reviewer knock Penman down for writing romances instead of historicals, but from what I've read of his reviews, he's a bit high minded and might impressed with himself.

I like what Emery Lee was trying to get going a few years ago - romantic historical fiction. I do like to read historical romances, but those with wall-paper unrealistic settings and the boyfriend/girlfriend trope from the 80s books will send them flying. That said, a lot of those older books that scream HR can actually be less romance and more historical - you just never know until someone gets in and reviews them.

I know EC's older books have a more of a romance feel to them, but the historical settings are still solid, and what I would prefer when I'm in the mood for a romance, unless I'm just too tired for anything but brain candy :p
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

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