This post originally appeared on Medium in April 2021. Highlights are from readers.

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There are three steps we should all take to clarify and confirm the genre of the books we are writing.

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What does your ideal reader read?

First, I’d like you to consider what types of books your ideal reader has read and loved. Your “ideal reader” is an avatar for the group of people who make up your intended audience. The more specific you can get about about these people, the better. Who are they? What do they most want, most love, most strive for?

Name Your Genre

Next, try writing out your genre in fewer than five words. One or two words is great. If the age of your reader matters (in other words, if they are children or teens) that will play into your genre description as well.

Learn the Genre Inside Out

Finally, learn what you need to know about the genre you’ve landed on. Most genres have general rules and guidelines that readers come to expect. Read avidly in that genre. Research the rules. And, I can’t say this strongly enough, if you are someone who wants to break the rules, you have to know them first. This goes for both blending genres and breaking genre expectations. It’s not enough that you read the genre, you have to study what makes it what it is.

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