Saturday, February 15, 2014

A book is more than its subgenre

I recently came across a blog post where an author claimed her book was a "YA answer to Game of Thrones." Why? Because it's epic fantasy. She then went on to list other YA authors who released epic fantasy books within the last couple of years, presumably as evidence that epic fantasy is picking up steam in YA.

*internal screaming*

Could we please stop promoting our books by announcing that they're in the same subgenre as whatever happens to be topping the bestseller list this year? Can we please stop pretending that subgenre tells us anything about a book? Think about it: Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones are both epic fantasy, and yet you couldn't find any two books that are more different. My own book is portal fantasy, and yet it has much more in common with certain contemporary novels than it does with Harry Potter.

When you say, "if you liked Game of Thrones, you'll love [insert random epic fantasy book here]!" you're insulting a very large, very diverse subgenre of books. You're insulting Game of Thrones. And more than that, you're insulting your own novel. You're relying on an established success to build an audience for your novel, instead of letting that work speak for itself.

Even if that strategy works, do you really want your book to be known as "just another epic fantasy"?

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