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by Sherrie Clark

As new authors, we sometimes are challenged to categorize our book into a specific genre. Truth be told, it can be a daunting task, so I’d like to help clear up some of the confusion. Because the list of genres is actually quite extensive, I’ll start by covering the more common ones.

We’ll start with nonfiction genres, which are based on fact. As a heads up, nonfiction is more popular, and therefore, easier to place because it sells more books.

Well-read genres within the nonfiction category are memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies. All are written about a real person’s life, but how do they differ from each other? On one hand, a memoir covers a certain part of a person’s life, those events experienced during that time, and the emotions and feelings involved. On the other hand, both a biography and autobiography are more general and cover a person’s life, starting with their childhood (or even before they were born) and moves through the subject’s life in chronological order. A biography is a book about someone else—a historical or effectual person—and is written in the third person. An autobiography is written in the first person because it is written by the subject of the book.

Other types of nonfiction books include how-to and self-help. These provide instructions in a nontechnical way. How-to books provide instructions on how to do a specific task, like how to organize your closet or how to write a book. Self-help also teaches but usually how to help improve a certain aspect of a person’s life, such as healthy eating or overcoming the emotional trauma of abuse.

Another popular nonfiction genre is true crime, which tells about a particular crime that has actually taken place. Don’t forget cookbooks, which provide recipes, their ingredients, and how to prepare the dishes.

This is no means an exhaustive list of nonfiction book genres, but it can help you determine if your book fits into one of these categories. If not, then a little more research will be needed. After all, your book is going to need a home, so paying attention to placing it in the correct genre is going to ensure your book gets put the proper neighborhood.


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