On Writing

Harper’s Harpings – Categories, Pigeon Holes and Labels



I am not normally one to conform, but I’m not a rebel with it.  The most rebellious I can be is lame really. Take today, I wore a black bra under a white t-shirt, rebelling against what is expected. I wore a jumper on top so no one knew.

You get the picture.

When it comes to my books I know that I have to conform to the norm, categorise the genre I am in.

I hate it, detest it. I was recently at a book conference weekend and the keynote speaker asked us all to put our hands up at the relevant sexual orientation. The options were gay, straight or bi-sexual. I was grumpy that we had to be pigeon-holed. I don’t really like it as you can tell.

I digress.

I look at all the book categories and think, nope, not that one, nope its not just about that and so on.

This week I had a week off and planned to spend a week writing.  I had high hopes of 80,000 words but actually only wrote 10,000.  I did however edit 70,000 words and signed up to a second book signing in York. I started writing my new newsletter. I did a great many things to avoid what was bothering me most.

I had a message to ask me what age my characters were in Loving Lilly. Who cares was my first thought, if you like the blurb then give the sample a go and away you go. Apparently not. Even though I had not categorised this book as NA/YA, they still didn’t want to read about people in their 20s.

Why ever not? Are issues specific to age groups. When I read the message again, I got myself into a bit of a state.  The trilogy that I am editing now and am due to release in January next year spans a decade of the character’s life. Starting at the age of seventeen.  What happens to her at seventeen moulds the rest of her life.  I am not a fan of flash backs so wanted to start it at the point of tragedy and move on from there.

Let’s look at what I have done with Loving Lilly, the categories are:

Amazon – can only choose two

FICTION>Contemporary Women


Then the keywords:

Romance, Drama, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Wedding, Happy Ever After

Who knows if I have chosen well, all I do know is that the other categories are not mine. I know I am competing in a tough genre but still I dislike the message asking me the age of the people involved.

What am I going to categorise the trilogy as. What about the first book? She’s seventeen to early twenties in that one. Is it NA or YA, is there a difference? Then the second book she is older and so on.  All three books will be labelled as something different.  How do these categories help the reader decide? I have no idea. I am making this up as I go.

I should choose a category on Amazon that has less than 100 books in it and write about that and then I’ll get an audience. Is that smart or not?

So in summary categories scare me and I spent far too much time this week getting hung up about it.  Should I worry about these things?

If you have advice or an opinion please let me know.

Thanks for reading.



Harper’s Motto: You will not be everybody’s favourite flavour, but that’s ok, because they will not always be your favourite flavour.   Be who you want to be and you will attract the people who will support you no matter what.


2 thoughts on “Harper’s Harpings – Categories, Pigeon Holes and Labels”

  1. Thankfully, in the past, these decisions have been taken off my hands, but this is something I will need to think about in the future. I, too, don’t like to be pigeon-holed. Something for me to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

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