Categories Shmategories: Figuring out Goodreads and Amazon   Leave a comment

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If I had a fan room, this is how it would look.

There is something inherent to being a real author. You have fans, you answer tons of e-mails every day, you sign copies of books for people in obscure “cool locations” and you probably have a cutie in a low cut dress lingering in the audience wanting a little more than just a glimpse into the “Mind of Marcus”.

But i’m not there yet, i’m far from it.

I spend a lot of time now going through goodreads forums, looking at different categories and sub categories, seeing who reads what and why, learning the ins and outs of how not to flame someone, how not to post something incorrectly on a wall. It is a haze of “read this!” promotions, “seeking authors for interviews” on various websites, shouts for guest bloggers, rave reviews for books i’ve never heard of, learning about categories like “New Adult”, which is NOT “Coming of age”, but more like “Young Adult” (but sexier and with more grizzled, heavily tattooed men on the front covers). There are the giveaways, the tips on promoting and writing, people asking questions from authors, “self-published authors” versus “indie” authors. People have websites that will promote your book if you promote theirs, people are seeking candidates to interview for radio. Each interview post i’ve seen has literally hundreds of replies. The writers are out there en masse, they are hungry and they are stepping around wielding keyboards like ancient maces.

So for the last two weeks i’ve been lost in this world, trying to figure out how to give advice and scream from my personal soapbox at the same time without much result. The point of this website is to find readers, and readers really mean ” putting your book  in the correct category”.  So i had to take a step back and figure out how to really categorize my book. When I think of how my book is written, I think of like… Rules of Attraction, or Bright Lights Big City. Not necessarily in the exact writing style, but in the narrative. But big boys like Bret and McInerney are heavyweights in the literary world. Their projects went the twelve rounds, came out bloody and bruised and lived to stand the test of time. Now their stuff falls into “literary fiction” category which is really high brow stuff. (Think of people who say words like “curmudgeon” and you’ll know the crowd i’m talking about).

But am in that category? It is possible, but it seems to me that only after significant fame is your book really categorized as such. I know my book is definitely NOT “New Adult”, but probably a mix betwen “Coming of Age” and “Literary Fiction”. In the haze of goodreads posts, I came upon someone who gave me some pretty good points on how to categorize my book and followed suit. Because I am an (egad) “person of colour” it might be easy for many people to take liberties on the supposed tone and layout of my book. My book however, is more about “Americana” than any particular racial demographic. The characters are all Jamaican (two black guys and one blasian dude) but the focus of their lives is… well, life. I rarely even focus on the “issue” of race, versus the “issues” of life. I learned this mistake after putting my book in the “Urban” category on Amazon and having it listed next to such gems as “Tranny 911”, “Thug Luv”, “Ballad of a Bitch” and “Child of a Crackhead”. (NOTE: I am not making these up, type these names into the Amazon search engine for yourself)

I realized I put a bit too much trust into Amazon’s algorithms, and it wasn’t a sweet cup of tea seeing the books i’m now associated with. So i’m going to tweak the categories and revamp. I even discovered there is something called “Hipster Lit” (y’know books about artsy ‘it kids’ with loads of disposable income and no responsibilities) and I felt that fit my book also. Earlier today I punched”hipster lit” into the  Goodreads search engine and immediately saw lots of books that felt like me pop up.  Books with funky covers, interesting titles and “seemingly different” stories. So i’m not the kind of guy who writes a book and spends the next year huffing and puffing his chest and introducing myself as “NAME+AUTHOR”.

I’m the kind of guy who only gets excited when I know that i’m close to the pie, and its not even in the oven yet.

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