I got into a short discussion recently about genre in a forum thread about some other subject. I don’t remember what the thread was actually about but it did lead into the problem of selling books when you don’t have a clearly marked genre. The interesting thing was that one of the commenters quizzed me about my books’ failure to fit properly, and seemed to think that I should make more of an attempt to place them in their proper niches.
Well, of course, that’s something any writer should do — if they can. But what came through was the idea that marketing was the most important consideration, so it’s a major error to write books that don’t allow you to market properly. I don’t think it’s an accident that most of the authors participating on this forum write books that clearly belong to specific genres, and most of their books cluster in the most popular genres.
Someone started another thread asking whether the writers on the forum buy each others’ books. I didn’t follow the discussion beyond the first few replies, but I was tempted to say that, as far as I knew, none of the others wrote the kind of books I’m interested in reading.
Both as a writer and a reader, I exist on the fringes. My books don’t sell well because I write the stories I want to write, without considering how marketable they are. And it’s difficult to find very many books that engage me — maybe because the authors I’d enjoy have the same marketing problems.