For today’s post I want to thank one of the authors who is subscribed to my newsletter for authors. I asked authors to send me their book marketing questions and I got this great question of “how to market a book that is a mix of genres”. So in today’s posts I will discuss multiple techniques on how to market a book that is a mix of genres.
How to market a book with multiple genres
Marketing a book that falls into multiple genres or doesn’t quite fit a genre can be quite difficult, but there are ways to market them as well. My advice in general would be to try and focus mainly on one of the genres and have the cover and blurb reflect that. If you can put in some hints to the other genre or ways in which your book is unique that’s great. Focus on the main genre with your cover and let your blurb hint to a few of the other aspects for example. Below I have a few more ideas on how to go about this.
- Research the genres. Make sure you research the genres that you think fit your book and try to determine which genre it fits best and why. Make sure you find out what fans of that genres expect in terms of tropes and themes and how your book fits that or differs from that.
- Discover Hard boundaries of a genre. For a lack of better word find out what the hard boundaries are in the genres you think your book fits. For example most cozy mystery readers won’t be happy if your book contains a lot of cuss words, gore or explicit content. Even if your book has the spot on cozy mystery vibe in other aspects. Marketing it as mystery or suspense depending on your book would work better in that case. Another example is reverse harem, readers of that genre won’t be happy if your main character has to choose only one love interest at the end of the series. Or if you market your book as romance, readers except a HEA or happily ever after ending. If you’re aware of these boundaries and genre expectations it can help you decide how to market it.
- Find out which genre is most popular/ larger audience. If you struggle to decide on a genre and your book fits both equally, it might be helpful to see which genre has a larger audience. Picking the genre with a larger audience probably will make it easier to find your readers among those.
- Find out which genre is most forgiving. Not sure if forgiving is the right word here, but in some genres it doesn’t seem to matter as much to the audience whether another genre is thrown in the mix or they might be more accepting of other tropes. For example in cozy mysteries it’s important that they’re have no gore and no explicit scenes, but you regularly see sub genres like historical cozy mystery or paranormal cozy mystery which seem to appeal to readers of the genre as well. If you do have explicit content or gore in your book, going with another genre might work better. Or as long as your romance is a side plot and the blurb hints to it, that will work in most genres without you having to brand it as romance. A good way to figure out whether the romance is a main or side plot is to ask yourself whether the story would still work without the romance. If it wouldn’t work without the romance then market it as a romance, if it would work just hint to the romance side plot.
- Rebrand later. if your first option for the cover and/ or blurb doesn’t seem to work as well as you had hoped, there is always the option of rebranding later when you can. Or if you have the time and money upfront your can test both options before publishing, see my next point.
- Test both genre options. Testing both or all genre options is an idea too, although more time intensive and it will cost more money as well. I remember Andrea Pearson in some of the Six Figure Author Podcast episodes explaining how she tests different cover options through ads to see which one works best. This way you can see which cover or blurb readers respond to better and decide which one to use based on that. You can use ads, sales or reviews as your guidance when testing different cover and blurb options.
- See what other authors do. You can see if there is another author who has the same combination of genres or tropes as your book and see how they market their book and use that as inspiration for how to market yours.
- Pick one genre for the cover and let the blurb hint at the other. Another way to have both or multiple genres show is to focus more firmly with the cover for one of them and then in the blurb make the other genre or tropes clear as well. In my opinion this usually works better than trying to fit both genres on the cover and confusing readers with the cover. Make sure the cover firmly fits one genre and then with things like the blurb or keywords focus on both genres.
- Make both genres clear early in the book. If your book is a mix of genres and you might want to show that immediately to avoid readers getting annoyed or later finding out the book doesn’t meet their expectations. One way to do this is to try to show both or all genres your book fit at the start. For example if you have an epic fantasy book with steampunk elements, make sure both the fantasy and steampunk parts are shown in the first few chapters. If you can it would be even better to show both genres in the first chapter or in the sample that’s shown on the retailer sites.
- Focus on one genre with individual books and have box set focus on another. Another way to appeal to both genres or groups of readers is to have the individual book covers and blurb focus more on one genre, preferable the one you identified as the best fit/ most chance of success. Then have the box set cover fit the other genre. I’ve seen a space opera/ scifi romance author do this with the individual books having a couple on it and thus focus more strongly on the scifi romance aspect. And then the box set cover having a space ship and more focusing on the scifi/ space opera aspect and less on the romance. In this case I would recommend to still make the romance aspect clear in the blurb as you don’t want to mislead readers into thinking there is no romance.
- List both/ all genres. When possible try to add keywords to your book that hint to both genres so you can appeal to both audiences. Most retailers have multiple options for keywords, so you can often focus on multiple aspects/ genres of your books.
- See if you can combine both genres in one word. In some cases it’s possible to describe all genres with one word. I’ve seen genres like Paranormal Romantic Suspense, Historical Romantic Suspense, Space Fantasy, Paranormal Cozy Mystery, Historical Cozy Mystery etc. If you can find one description that can hint to all your genres that would be great when talking about your book or mentioning the genre. If that isn’t possible try to come up with a sentence that describes your book and genres well, which you can use in your blurb or marketing communications. For example a line like “a fast paced space opera series with a high stakes mystery and fantasy elements”. Or this line I saw in the blurb for Star Compass by Anthea Sharp: “Steampunk meets Space Opera in this captivating tale of adventure and romance from USA Today bestseller Anthea Sharp.”
- Have the cover hint to both genre. In most cases this won’t work as well, but if possible it can be an idea to have your cover hint to both genres. There are definitely cases where this works great, like paranormal cozy mystery books that have the down to earth or even cartoon-y vibe of the cozy mystery genre with paranormal elements thrown in.
- Focus on themes/ characters when marketing. Instead of having the blurb and marketing heavily focus on the actual genre and tropes, try and focus more on the character(s) and/ or themes. People connect with characters and their journey and you can use that to try and pull readers in. Have the blurb focus on what your character is going through or certain themes that play a role in your book. Same with marketing strategies, like ads, you can use these to focus more on the character(s) and themes than the genre.
- Accept some readers might not like it. And no matter what you do it’s inevitable that some readers won’t like it and don’t like the mix of genres. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing as negative reviews have their place too, which leads me me to my next point.
- Have the reviews guide new readers. Whether positive or negative reviews, these can serve as a guideline for future potential readers to determine whether this is a book for them or not. And can hopefully them make up their mind whether your book is for them or not.
I hope this post gives you some ideas on how to market a book that has multiple genres or is a mix of genres. If you have any ideas that I didn’t mention, feel free to let me know. And if you have a question you like to see me cover in one of these posts, you can submit your question here.