I’m kind of baffled by the utter panic and confusion people feel about genres. When people are telling me about their books, they often say they don’t know what genre it is, like it's some magical defining element beyond the scope of their knowledge.
Genres serve two purposes.
1. They tell the bookstore staff where to put the book so readers can find it.
2. They tell agents and editors who the target audience is.
That’s all. Genres aren’t magical. They aren’t indicative of what sort of person you are. They aren’t complicated.
You want your book to go with other books like it, because people who like those books will go to that section when they want to buy something. If your novel is mostly sci fi and you sell it as a horror, the people who read horror will be pissed off at you and the people who want to read sci fi, but don’t like horror, will never see it.
So your genre is one or two words that you would expect to see dividing sections in a book store. Horror, romance, fantasy, health, cooking, etc. That way people who want to find your book can read it.
If your novel is a romance, publishers will know the target audience is mostly woman who like romance. They will help you decide on a title and design you a cover that appeals to women who like romance.
When it comes to publishers and agents, your genre should be fluid. For example: The Hungry People is, by my definition, a horror. However, if an agent didn’t like horror, I wouldn’t feel sleazy calling it a ‘paranormal thriller.’
So your novel isn’t a ‘romantic post apocalyptic thriller’, it’s just a thriller, or a sci fi. Calling it a 'romantic post apocalyptic thriller’ would drastically limit your audience.
Don’t be ashamed, don’t be pretentious, your genre is JUST your location in a book store. Simple.
Copyright. Talitha Kalago. 2010