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July 15, 2020

            Okay. What brought up this rather brilliant (maybe…read on) bit of marketing and categorization was a bit of misdirection that fooled me recently.

            Some that know me are aware that I’m no big fan of vampires. I never have been, even from the times when Bela Lugosi was still alive. Yeah, I’m THAT old.

            For some reason, of all the icky bugs in horror, those particular monsters have never clicked with me.

            Over the generations, vampires have gone through stages from the horror inducing fanged suit-wearing Dracula to the sparkly whatevers of Stephanie Meyer. In-between those have been a slew of variants as people have indulged in their passion for the bloodthirsty icky bugs (monsters).

            However, two things have stayed true to this day.

            Vampires have almost always been classified in the horror, romance or fantasy categories.

            I’m not a fan.

            Of course, the second one is completely off the map to the rest of the world. Then again, I can’t be the only one that either never was a fan, or is by now, so sick of them they want to scream at the thought!


            Well, there were actually two, but the most recent was a reminder of the first.

            Before I digress, let me give you the most recent.

            While browsing the science fiction/fantasy section of Barnes & Noble, I ran across an intriguing series of books (well, two so far) by this British author. The description or back cover blurb and the endorsements gave a different impression of what I actually got once I read them.

            While the first book was okay, about a third of the way through the second book, in my opinion, it “devolved” into “another one of those.” In other words, it turned into a vampire story.

            I almost put it down.

            The writing was okay, but a bit tedious. I was willing to go along with that, given it had some intriguing icky bugs. That is…until the vampires showed up. Then things went downhill. Nowhere on the back cover blurb did it say anything about vampires. Otherwise, I probably…no I never would’ve picked up the series in the first place. I can just bet that from now on, the series will continue with vampires. They always do, not to be too cynical.

            Now, on to the first incident. About three decades ago, I read a great UFO series which will remain nameless because I know the author (who I met at one of our writer’s conferences). I enjoyed about a dozen of the books. When it came to the grand finale, the last novel in the series where the aliens finally arrived, the author ruined it for me. Why? Yup, you guessed it. Vampires! Aaagh! Shot down the entire series. I was SOOO disappointed. I let him know it too. He just shrugged it off and told me he had to end it some way, and that’s the way he swung at the time. Oh well…

            Nowhere in that entire series was there any kind of hint that this was all going to be a vampire story. Not a hint.


            While there HAVE been a select few vampire stories I loved for a change, they’re as rare as hen’s teeth, and no apologies for the cliché. They Hunger by Scott Nicholson was a good example. In this one, the vampires were true and savage icky bugs.

            So, what to do? How about a bit of categorization and truth in advertising?

            In other words, make a specific category for vampire fiction?

            That’s right.

            While they have romance and horror and western and fantasy. How about a genre specifically for vampire fiction? Let it cover all the sub-genres that go with it like horror, romance, fantasy, western, what have you.

            By doing that, nobody will be fooled again, and those of us that just can’t stand vampires, no matter what form they take, won’t have to suffer though some story only to find out it’s about vampires!


            I’m only being partially facetious here.

            The issue is that the bookstores, whether they be brick and mortar, or on line, tend to lump just about everything they can into as simple a category as they can because of marketing.

            The more they break it down, the more they have to categorize things and the more complicated things get when they try to shelve books.

            Why is this a problem?

            When authors don’t follow the rules of creativity!

            That’s right. When authors mix genres, then what are the bookstores to do? How are they going to shelve a book that mixes fantasy with vampire and horror and western?

            What shelf would that go on?


            While this all sounds like a rant for nothing, I only bring it up because you, as writers, will run across this when you write anything at all. Be prepared, because you’re going to be creative. You’re going to write what you want, and when you’re dun didded, what’re you left with?

            Does your story fit neatly into mystery, western, fantasy, romance, horror?

            Are you a pure genre writer, or…does it fit into a sub-category?

            Does it mix those elements and sub-elements?

            When YOU, AS A READER, go to the bookstore and get upset because you find a romance in the SYFY section, because it’s BOTH, who are you going to get upset with?

            All I can say is that it can be a tough call for a publisher and a bookseller to categorize mixed-genre stories. It’s even worse to sub-categorize them, so basically, they don’t. That’s probably one reason the filters on the likes of Amazon or other on-line sites are not all that great. Ever wonder why those “If you liked this book you may like…” lists of books are at the bottom of the screen are there? They may be similar, but step carefully.

            To me, my take is that as an author, you should use truth in advertising, especially with the back cover blurb. Also when submitting to a publisher, you need to know what genre you’re writing because if you don’t know, how are they going to know?

            In today’s times, books are lumped into too few general categories so it’s up to us, as authors, to use the back cover blurb to let the reader know the specifics. All the publisher can do is give the bookseller the general category of where to shelve the book. We need to help the reader by giving them a decent idea of what they’re about to buy beyond the basic genre.

In my case, I would sincerely appreciate that if your story’s about vampires, you state so! It’ll save some grief for those of us that are not fans. That goes for any genre, pure or mixed.

            Happy writing!

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