So I’ve been having an ongoing discussion with Micah from MBlackburn: A Writer’s Journey about an emerging book genre, New Adult, and it got me thinking – how do we determine in what genre our writing belongs? Ultimately, why does it matter?

If you think about going into a bookstore, what few actually still remain, there are some definite sections for genres outside of simple fiction. Romance, Mystery, and Children’s get their own sections – heck, Children’s gets its own area. Science Fiction usually gets combined with Fantasy, and graphic novels usually get shoved unceremoniously into their section.

When the Harry Potter and Twilight series went viral, the Young Adult category took off as the one genre making the most money. And that could be one reason why genres matter for a writer – which ones are still successful. If you look at ebooks, like at Amazon, the easiest way to browse is by genre – another reason why genres matter.

It all comes down to marketing your writing. In terms of my own writing, all of my ideas fall in the range of young adult fantasy. I could chalk that up to my years as a high school teacher. However, I enjoy the new additions to the genre like The Hunger Games and Cassandra Clare‘s Mortal Instruments series. For me, young adult covers the audience who would be reading my book.

It would take some small adjustments to take my novel and make it fit within the New Adult genre. Some different tweaks, and it’s shelved with the science fiction/fantasy books. Take out the other-world aspects of it, place it in the real world, and it’s just plain fiction.

So is it my intended audience while I’m writing that determines what genre I write for, or is it the genre that determines what I’m writing? I think the answer is – it’s both. If you’re thinking beyond just the writing (and you should be thinking about what to do with your final product once you’re finished), then I think it only strengthens your writing and its success if you consider both.