Diary: Number 7 in the Detective John Bowers police procedural series is coming out in March. A COLD KILL.


One of the hurdles beginning authors need to jump over is the task of defining their book. This is a multi-step process which begins at composing the query and synopsis. What is my book about? Who would want to read this book? If I were in Barnes and Noble, where would I expect this book to be shelved? Seems pretty simple, but once you're saddled up, it looks a lot like herding cats.

Cross-over books, like cross-over SUVS can mean a lot of things. Lots of traits and options like a lot of other books but some distinctive ones that define the genre. Books are not so complicated as cars because the option list is a helluva lot shorter for books than Nissan Rogues. It's usually a piece of marshmallow fudge for a writer to label their book Fiction or Nonfiction. Easy A on that one. But if it isn't a perfect fit in the sub category, Western, Adult, Young Adult, Childrens', Erotica, Historical Fiction, Humor, Gay/Lesbian Fiction, et cetera, then it's a bit trickier. The brain twister is understanding that like the books you write, your readers are cross-overs as well. So how do you label and promote your books to reach those readers?

Spoiler Alert: a lot of literary agents stumble badly on this one. In my earlier days of frustration and despair, a whole herd of agents passed on my books with "Gee, I love your writing, but I don't know if it's humorous fiction, a thriller or literary. So I can't begin to think how I could market it. Humor, murder mystery and literary voices in the same book? No clue." Oh, and of course there's the "We'll have to pass and have a wonderful day!" It seemed like not a single literary agency could imagine humor and mayhem page by page. Nobody ever watch Columbo or read Hiaasen?

Don't be discourage fellow scribblers. We can create categories all by ourselves. A frustrated author invented the legal thriller after all and look what happened? Think shepherd when you run into a genre barricade. Sometimes sheepish agents need to be lead. Gore and chuckles together? Sure. Why not? List it whichever way your readers would flock. For me, it turned out to be that when my name is on the cover, readers expect to go home, curl up with a glass of their fave beverage and enjoy a smile and a hearty chuckle before the last chapter. Even the Police Procedural genre with the John Bowers books mixes a little humor and sexy drama with the homicide and gore. So hang in there and define your books to appeal to the readers who share your penchant for an eclectic ride through the literary universe.

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