What I mean is in the past, we could browse the shelves of our favorite book store for potential reads. We’d skim the authors and the titles. Then we might wander over to another group of shelves.
We had access to all the shelves. That made browsing really a browse. Today, if we shop online for our books, browsing becomes more difficult.
If you tried, you’d probably never get anywhere. It’s almost impossible to browse all the books in a genre. I tend to be a shopper who is easily overwhelmed. It there’s too much out there, I don’t buy. I like a few choices or an opportunity to browse a few choices. Amazon, no matter how much we love the convenience and the service, will never be able to create that kind of browsing opportunity.
Of course, Amazon is trying hard to do so. You’ll see on your Amazon page, readers who looked at this book also looked at… Amazon also suggests books based on your browsing or purchasing habits. The problem is these hints often miss the mark. I shop for everyone in my family. If I purchase a heavy history tome for my husband, that doesn’t mean I want to read heavy history tomes myself. Furthermore, I’m often using Amazon for “research.” I’m looking for titles that may fit with something I’m writing. That doesn’t mean that’s the kind of book I want to read.
Here is where genre comes in. Genre has always been important. We as writers must identify our genre so readers will know what we are writing. In the past if we spilled over into another genre, the book store had to decide where to place our book.Once they did so, that book appeared on the shelf in that genre. But, my book might still be found by other readers because book store browsers can wander throughout the store.
For example, my first book The Clock Strikes Midnight is not a typical mystery. Some might say it was a suspense family saga; others might call it literary fiction; still others might call it Southern fiction. I had to place it in a particular genre, and I chose mystery. Fortunately most of my readers agree that it is a general mystery versus a whodunit. Nonetheless, the book also has elements of the other genres listed. I cannot remove it from the shelf of mystery, but I can add the other genre names when it appears on Amazon.
Identifying the genre of a book will place a book somewhere in the book cyber world. Giving it alternative genre or sub-genre will even better identify it. These are extremely important decisions. Some say if you select a limited genre, for example, Southern cozy mystery with a female sleuth, you will have a better chance to getting notice on Amazon.
The closer the target, the better the chance of finding that audience among all the millions of books and thousands of shelves a book store like Amazon offers.
What are your experiences with genre?