That blurred line between genres

I’m thinking of relaunching my book Ultra:  new title, new look, vastly improved paperback experience.  I had thought of changing the genre as well but then, by chance, saw a pie chart showing how different genres sell on Amazon.  Way over 50% went to Romance/Erotica, though it would have been much more interesting to see this properly split.  What surprised me, though, was that the slice for Science Fiction/Fantasy was greater than for Fiction.

I had considered changing Ultra’s genre to fiction, thinking it might appeal to a less specialised audience, but now I’m not so sure.  It isn’t a “proper” sci-fi book.  It starts off with a family drama feel and even stronger feelings of thriller-style unease as the reader is introduced to John Fox, the abductor.  But the solution is not general fiction.  It’s sci-fi.  I’m perfectly aware that the sci-fi genre is so vast it requires further sub-division but I can’t either find a sub-genre that fits.  It’s mostly mundane sci-fi but the resolution is hard sci-fi – though without the science.  It’s not soft sci-fi at all but it could be called existential.  Calling something existential probably doesn’t tell you enough about it, though.  I mean, all my work is existential.  I’m concerned about the downfall of man – but nothing I write could be called social or anthropological sci-fi.

This blur of genre’s led to problems with my title.  If I wanted to categorise the novel as sci-fi, then it needed an appropriate title, although selecting the word “ultra” probably wasn’t the best idea as it has become REALLY overused.  It’s an important word within the context of the novel, though:  “ultra” is a thing, a place, a condition.  It has multiple definitions but isn’t an adjective.

Having toyed with the idea of relabeling Ultra as fiction, the new title I came up with was as bland as salt-free butter.  Another look at the novel and I decided to keep it as sci-fi and use the word “ultra” in a more interesting way.

Not being able to define your work is not a good start when it comes to selling it.  I can’t ask Amazon to please add a new sub-genre to their sci-fi selection, which means all my work invariably ends up as “general” sci-fi which sounds really boring.  Typing in “existential sci-fi” brings up lists of books which include the inevitable 1984, Solaris, Handmaid’s Tale and others that I have (mostly) read.  Interesting.  Except that Ultra is hardly in that class.  My latest novel, perhaps, but not this slight effort, my experiment in self-publishing.

Let’s go with lightweight existential science-fiction based fiction.



About susannahjbell

I am a writer of science fiction and other strange and surreal works. I mostly write novels and the occasional novelette. My published works include A Doorway into Ultra, the Fleet Quintet and the Exodus Sequence. I live in London in an attic flat but really want to live in a tree. I wanted to be an astrophysicist but would settle for an alien abduction. I write because I don’t know what to read.
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