Monday, December 2, 2013

Know Your Market: How to Dig Into Your YA Genre

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I did.

Last Monday, I talked about How to Dig into the YA Market.  Today, I'm going to talk specifically about genre.  While it's important to know your general market, I think it's far more important to understand your genre.  Some people would say YA is its own genre, and while that's kind of the case, on a basic level I disagree.

The genre I'm going to use as an example is high fantasy, because that's what I write.  When you Google high fantasy books, you'll see a lot of the same titles.  For me, some of the big names in High Fantasy are Tamora Pierce and Diana Wynne Jones.  Both of those authors write great books and they do it well.  A few other hallmark books include Eragon, Lord of the Rings, and  Chronicles of Narnia. (People would argue that all three of those aren't true high fantasy, but I think they're close enough.)

These are the building blocks for your search.  Once you have some books that are similar to what you write, one of my favorite things is to find that book on Amazon and Goodreads.  As an example, let's use Eragon, because most people have at least heard of it.  If you go to the Amazon page for Eragon and then scroll down to the Customers who Bought this Item also Bought: section, you'll find a lot of good, similar, high/epic fantasy.  If you scroll through the pages, you'll find some similar books, including Inkspell, Divergent, Magyk, and Airborn.  All of those books are great speculative fiction not set in the present day.  They are good books to check out.  Goodreads has a similar function.

Another thing you can do is look for author connections.  If you're favorite genre writer starts mentioning a book a lot or she mentions another book or author in the acknowledgements of fantasy books. check the new author out.  Do the authors thank and other authors?  What to those authors write? One thing I noticed was that Cinda Williams Chima tweeted at Rae Carson a lot.  I respect Chima's second series and after I read Girl of Fire and Thorns, I also respect Carson.

Keep an eye on the best seller lists for your genre.  I talked about best seller lists last week, but they are truly one of the best fiction resources for writers.  Just skim them over once or twice a week.  See what books in your genre are on the lists and read them.

You can also find lists of books in your genre.  Once again, I recommend Goodreads, because the lists on there are voted for by people, so the most loved books are at the top of the lists.  Using the example of Eragon, if you go to the Goodreads page and scroll down, you'll see a section marked Lists With This Book.  Click the more lists button to see what lists include Eragon.  Some of those lists include Best Epic Fantasy, Dragons, Fantasy Books of the 21ts Century,   Most Interesting Magic System, Most Obvious Tolkien Imitators, and The Best Fantasy Books.  After taking a quick look at these lists, I can tell you there are going to be some books that are in your genre that people consider good high and/or epic fantasy.

And perhaps most importantly, find people who also love your genre.  Find an exclusively high fantasy review blog.  Share titles with friends who also love high fantasy.  Find a high fantasy forum, share latest good titles with your Lord of the Rings loving friend.  Word of mouth is still the best way to find good books.

This is less concrete then last week's post, because genre is harder to pin down, but I felt it still needed mentioning.

Thanks for reading.  How do you find other great books within a genre you're loving?  Are you looking for some titles to read in your genre?  If so, let me know what genre you want to read in.


  1. Hi!
    I just stumbled across your blog, like, five minutes ago. It's a REALLY cool blog, by the way. Now, actually about the post. Thanks for writing this! I've actually been looking for a post (somewhere, ANYWHERE) on knowing your genre. I'm a big Historical-fiction person, so I just look at reviews from biographers and stuff on novels they've read.
    The idea of actually looking at 'customers also looked at/bought' is one that I think a lot of people do, but I've never even thought of it! Thanks for mentioning that :)
    Also, good luck with your blog - and your novels!
    Au revoir,
    Tabby (

    1. I'm glad you found it useful! Thanks for stopping by my blog.


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