Why is genre important?

“Genre is essentially a marketing tool . . . it’s a category marker that tells us in which section of the bookstore your book will be sold.”

Writer’s Digest, ‘The Do’s and Don’ts of Combining Genres’ 

To get your novel to the point where it’s ready for the bookstore shelf, the first thing you must consider is genre. But, despite what it says in the quote above, genre is more than just a marketing tool. 

Think about why physical and online bookstores categorise books. It’s to make it easier for readers to locate the books they enjoy. Now I want you to think about why readers gravitate towards certain genres. It’s because they enjoy the common elements those kinds of stories offer — they appreciate the style in which they’re written, the feelings they evoke, the lessons they learn about life and themselves in the act of reading them. And so, in choosing a genre, and subsequently a subgenre, you’re making a promise to your readers. A promise to deliver those common elements they enjoy so much.

Because you’re writing a romance novel, the most important promise you’re making is that you’ll deliver a “happily-ever-after” (HEA) or a “happy-for-now” (HFN) ending for your protagonist and the love interest. But while you know the story you want to write will sit very comfortably under the romance umbrella, it might very well have elements of other genres, which will put your story into a subgenre of romance. It’s important to know what subgenre you’re writing in so that you’re aware of what other promises you’re making to the reader.