Book Genre – A List of Book Genres Every Writer Should Know

Book genre is something that is essential to writers. This post provides a comprehensive list of book genres produced to help writers pitch to agents/publishers or list their book on Amazon.

Book Genre
I was recently browsing in a large bookshop, scanning the book genres as usual, when I came across a section with a sign declaring ‘Dark Fantasy’. There it was in the cold light of day – a new book genre. Without any fanfare or fuss, the bookshop had promoted Dark Fantasy from a minor sub-genre to a book genre in its own right.

“So what?” I hear you shout.

Well if you write Dark Fantasy this is major news. It means that book buyers are now looking to buy Dark Fantasy (they need to fill those shelves), which means publishers are looking to publish Dark Fantasy books and agents are looking to represent writers who write Dark Fantasy.

If you are self-publishing, then this is also good news. It means there are readers of Dark Fantasy (as well as other book genres), lots of readers…

This is a great illustration of the kind of change writers need to notice. It makes no difference which of the book genres you write, it is essential that, as a writer, keep your ear to the ground and make yourself aware of changes and trends within your genre.

Why? Because if you are serious about writing then book genres are your workplace. If you are going to write relevant, publishable books, then you need to know which books are doing well, and which are not.

Since the publishing industry is segmented by genre, it is essential that you are able to identify and become intimately involved with your genre. As a first step along this road, here’s the genre list we use…

A List A Book Genres

Fiction Genre List

  • Action and Adventure,
  • Chick Lit,
  • Children’s,
  • Commercial Fiction,
  • Contemporary,
  • Crime,
  • Erotica,
  • Family Saga,
  • Fantasy,
  • Dark Fantasy (probably still a major sub-genre!)
  • Gay and Lesbian,
  • General Fiction,
  • Graphic Novels,
  • Historical Fiction,
  • Horror,
  • Humour,
  • Literary Fiction,
  • Military and Espionage,
  • Multicultural,
  • Mystery,
  • Offbeat or Quirky,
  • Picture Books,
  • Religious and Inspirational,
  • Romance,
  • Science Fiction,
  • Short Story Collections,
  • Thrillers and Suspense,
  • Western,
  • Women’s Fiction,
  • Young Adult.

Non-Fiction Genre List

  • Art & Photography,
  • Biography & Memoirs,
  • Business & Finance,
  • Celebrity & Pop Culture,
  • Music, Film & Entertainment,
  • Cookbooks,
  • Cultural/Social Issues,
  • Current Affairs & Politics,
  • Food & Lifestyle,
  • Gardening,
  • Gay & Lesbian,
  • General Non-Fiction,
  • History & Military,
  • Home Decorating & Design,
  • How To,
  • Humour & Gift Books,
  • Journalism,
  • Juvenile,
  • Medical, Health & Fitness,
  • Multicultural,
  • Narrative,
  • Nature & Ecology,
  • Parenting,
  • Pets,
  • Psychology,
  • Reference,
  • Relationship & Dating,
  • Religion & Spirituality,
  • Science & Technology,
  • Self-Help,
  • Sports,
  • Travel,
  • True Adventure & True Crime,
  • Women’s Issues.

If you still need help with your book genre then this book genre list from The Guardian should help.

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  • http://www.claire-king.com Claire King

    How would you say Contemporary differs from Literary?

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  • Poop

    :P no point of this webpage…

  • 143572443

    I like psychological horror.

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  • Jlcstewart

    I came here looking for a “genre” i saw mentioned elsewhere but didn’t find it.  Agitprop.

  • Gary Smailes

    Sorry new to me!

  • amelle

    The web page does not help at allll why can’t you search the book then it tells you what genre it is

  • Gary Smailes

    Go into Amazon, search on the title and then look at the Category list, this is pretty much the genre.

  • Kristine

    This helped a lot in pulling up a list of genres. I certainly couldn’t come up with this many on my own. It would be even more helpful if you had a link to sub-genres. If you choose to consider this, I would suggest making each genre a link to the sub-genres. As is, although this helped, I now have to go find a website that lists the sub-genres. I do like your site, though. Thank you.

  • http://bubblecow.net BubbleCow [Gary Smailes]

    Kristine – I have avoided creating a list of sub-genres. The reason being that when pitching to publishers and agents, in most cases, it is only really top genres that matter. 

  • http://bubblecow.net BubbleCow [Gary Smailes]

    Sorry I will try harder to meet your needs. 

  • http://bubblecow.net BubbleCow [Gary Smailes]

    New to me.

  • http://bubblecow.net BubbleCow [Gary Smailes]

    Still classes as Horror.

  • http://bubblecow.net BubbleCow [Gary Smailes]

    I think you mean, ‘no point to this webpage…’

  • http://bubblecow.net BubbleCow [Gary Smailes]

    In short – no.

  • Michael K

    What genre would you classify an espionnage novel?

  • Gary Smailes

    Thriller

  • Lucy

    What would be the genre for the book mind blind by Jennifer Roy? I need it for school, and I’m really confused on what it is

  • Gary Smailes
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  • Paris

    what genre is the book: From the mixed up files of Mrs. Basil .E. Frankwieler?

  • Gary Smailes

    Children’s

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  • Kimberly

    Thriller/Mystery, Dystopia, Historian Fiction…

  • Kimberly

    Forgot paranormal. :)

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  • Jack London Fan

    Where would Jack London’s Call of the Wild and The People of the Abyss Place?

  • http://bubblecow.net BubbleCow [Gary Smailes]

    Thrillers and Suspense

  • http://bubblecow.net BubbleCow [Gary Smailes]

    Young Adult.

  • http://bubblecow.net BubbleCow [Gary Smailes]

    Jack London’s Call of the Wild could fall into a couple of genres. You could go for Children’s or even Young Adult. Perhaps, Action and Adventure.

    The People of the Abyss Place is History.

  • Gary

    Dont beat yourself up about it..I like the site

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  • Blake

    That’s not a genre, that’s how it’s sorted. Children’s, Young Adults’ & Adults’ A genre is like fantasy or science fiction.

  • http://bubblecow.net BubbleCow [Gary Smailes]

    Don’t tell the publishers, agents and book sellers, they’ll be furious!

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  • Rockin Rayna

    There is an new genre of New Adult, and Erotic Romance. Yes, Erotic Romance is still romance but it has a tendency to be to spicy for the average romance reader. Paranormal romance has gotten to be a bit more Erotic or spicy romance also. Ever since 50 Shades of Grey readers want a more concise genre description.

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  • misskitty_79

    What would the sub-genre “CyberPunk” fall under?

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  • TimeGauntlet

    Science Fiction

  • Maya

    I love your wordle picture at the top :)

  • Betty and this is my email!

    What’s the difference between Erotica,Erotic when writing a just a romance. A good romance book has detailed sex, lover, a killer and a good story. I’ve published one book. The one I”m writing now fits in one of the three above. What genre would I be? Oh, my character ,she’a cussing chief of police.

  • Donnya

    Comprehensive to me means that you will explain each genre in depth. That is what I was looking for here but didn’t find.

  • Gary Smailes

    Sorry, this is a comprehensive ‘list’ of genres. Defining a book genre is a job for a braver man then me, but I’ll try harder in the future.

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  • Lizzy

    Textbooks?

  • Wendy C.

    there is a point to this webpage and Poop, stop saying negative stuff about others because I think your jealous -.-’ The point of this webpage is that it helped meh a lot on my project. Thanks Gary Smailes

  • garysmailes

    Wendy – … and I thought I was doing a good thing sharing our internal list of genres. But I was wrong and I see the error of my ways.

    Poop has rightly pointed me in the correct direction. I need to lift myself to fulfil the high standards that Poop has, rightly, set for myself and the whole Internet. If I work hard and dedicate my every waking moments to getting better, then perhaps, just perhaps, one day the impossible will happen.

    I dream of the day that Poop will return from the mystical ether and leave a comment that says — ‘My son, your site is now of use. I see the point’. When this happens I will rejoice and be happy. I will hold a great parade and people will flock from across the globe to pay thanks. In a cloud of happiness I will ride naked on an elephant through the streets of Liverpool holding a banner that simply says ‘Poop said it is OK!’

    Until that day I can only dream!

  • Athe

    I think the genres have sprouted into a whole lot more sub genres.. paranormal fantasy, paranormal romance, dystopia, etc etc

  • Gary Smailes

    Agree, but the aim was to build a framework. Sub-genres come and go. This is based on the list that most publishers will recognise.

  • really

    chick lit? ew.

  • Jennifer Reinoehl

    With erotica, the sole purpose is to arouse. Similar to a porno, there is little to no plot. In the Palace of Sleeping Beauty is a good example of erotica. Romance has between 3 – 5 sex scenes scattered throughout a plot that is focused on the relationship between the two main characters. Romance books that contain suspense or mystery elements – such as killers are classified as the subgenre “romantic suspense.” It depends on what the plot’s focus is. If the focus is solely that the characters are doing things to arouse the readers, it is erotica. If the focus is solely on the relationship between the two main characters and the suspense elements are secondary, it is romance. If the focus is on the suspense and the characters’ relationship is secondary, it is a suspense novel.

  • Jennifer Reinoehl

    Plays/ Screenplays – specifically those with political themes.

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