Freedom to write in the genre of your choice, and to swap and to blend genres, is one of the many advantages of being an indie author. You can write what you want to write, and worry about the genre later – and even invent one of your own, if your work doesn't neatly fit into an existing trade press category. Canadian self-published novelist Yvonne Hertzberger, setting out to write fantasy, describes how she realised only after publication that she'd fallen under the spell of magic or magical realism, and discovered her true niche.
Until just over a year ago, when I published the final volume in my Earth’s Pendulum trilogy I had not heard of magic realism, or as some call it, magical realism. Imagine my surprise when a reviewer, an author who writes mainly magic realism suggested this was what I had written. Until then I had listed my books a fantasy, but been unhappy with the limitations of that category. My books have no mythical or magical creatures, no great spells, and the world I created is a modified version of early medieval. Readers looking for such books with spells and dragons would not be drawn to mine.
This revelation by the reviewer soon had me digging into what magic realism is and isn’t. There is a wide range of opinions, some suggesting that it may not be fiction, others disagreeing and saying it can, but I came across one definition which I liked. Even better, it fits how I see my work. For those who agree fiction can be included I think it covers things concisely.
What is Magical Realism?
“Magic realism differs from fantasy in that the magical element within the story is an integral part of the characters' daily lives. It doesn't pop in and out of the plot, but is integrated in the fabric of the story.” (found on the Riffle site with no attribution)
In the meantime I have read indie books in that genre and found them to be well crafted and engaging. What’s more, my reading confirmed that I had found my niche. The skeleton for my current WIP came to me in a dream. While I need to expand and sculpt it into a comprehensible story, I took the dream as confirmation that I was on the right track. You see, I rarely remember my dreams, and when I do they are usually nightmares.
While magic realism emerged in literature in the 1950s, it is still a relatively obscure genre, known primarily by those already immersed in it either via the art world or because they belong to a group that seek it out or write it. The designation “Magic Realism” migrated from the fine art world where it had its origins in the 1920s.
Book Marketing Challenge Niches
For me, the result is that, even after discovering my true genre, I still have difficulty finding readers. While I have added magic realism to my categories where I can, many sites still do not list it as a option, even in the drop-own lists that allow us to refine our keywords. Worse, in many cases fantasy is not listed on its own but is combined with science-fiction, which is even further removed from what I do.
I think you can begin to see my frustration. To confound things even more, many who do read my trilogy suggest it also fits historical fiction (probably due to the setting), historical romance (it does include a love story), and, of course, fantasy (because it takes place in a society that does not exist). Originally I expected that my work would appeal mostly to women. I was pleased to learn that is the case. I have had male reviewers who love my work.
ALLi & The Indie Author's Quest
Like most authors I am on a constant quest for ways to find and connect with readers and other authors. Like many, I have found that quest to be challenging. I came upon ALLi less than a month ago and have lurked around to see what I can learn here. What I see here are two things I hope will move me forward on my quest. The first is an organization dedicated to helping indie authors with expert support and advice. The other is a Facebook group inhabited by serious writers and authors willing to assist each other with suggestions and information. Will this path help me find new readers? If not, I hope it will at least help me learn what I need to know to expand my circles in the right directions.
OVER TO YOU
- Did you set out to write in a particular genre, or did the genre emerge as you wrote the book, as in Yvonne's case?
- Does your chosen genre create marketing challenges?
- Join the conversation via the comments box!
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