Over at my blog, Ellie Writes 2, I've been discussing romance sub-genres.
Specifically Paranormal Romance and Contemporary Fantasy Romance, but it's understandably impossible to have a discussion of those without Urban Fantasy coming into play.
Writing about Vampires, and Shifters and Magic and Demons and alternate realities and altered realities ... well it's understandable that they all mingle together. It is very rare to have a story which has just *one* of these elements.
As a writer I'm attempting to discern the differences in these sub-genres so that a) I can 'appropriately' identify my stories when I pitch and/or query them. And b) when a call comes out asking for one of these genres I have a grasp of what they are asking for.
Here's the thing, though, as Romanceaholic pointed out, these definitions are purely 'in house'. What I mean by that is while publishers and booksellers may have the need to categorize books in this way, most readers don't. Romanceaholic's comments from my blog:
Now, to be fair, I’m a book reviewer and not by any means an author or a publisher, so I haven’t the foggiest idea how “The Industry” categorizes such books when it comes to submissions and queries — this is merely how my bookshelves are organized on my blog So what may work for me may make you a laughing stock with different publishers.I have to say, as a reader, I don't really pay attention to the categories/sub-genres at all. Seriously. NOT AT ALL. If there's a romance and it isn't resolved in the first book of an urban fantasy, I'm okay with that (so long as it's resolved somewhere down the line - please don't pull a Stephanie Plum!). Book blurbs, recommendations, reviews, all influence my decisions far more than the category. (But, however much *I* don't think I use categories, I suspect that what ever analytics are used to come up with my suggestions do rely heavily on them).
So what's a writer to do? TmyCnn's point is probably the best one to follow:
I’ll repeat what I said there: Ultimately, it’s got to boil down to what most helps the reader figure out what they should expect when they pick up the book to read it.
For most readers these days, drawing on my experience, that's going to be the blurb on the back. Unfortunately, that's something which I may or may not have any control over depending on the publisher. So I'm going to stop worrying so much about sub-genres, and get back to writing the best story I can, sending it along where it seems to fit best and hoping whoever accepts it (thinking positively here!) creates a 'pitch' / blurb which will let readers know what I wrote and hope my darnedest it meets their expectations.
In the mean time, I can't help but wonder why publishers definitions and readers expectations from different genres seem so disparate. But that's a post for another time.