As a writer, one of the most important things you need to understand--especially when pitching your book--is which genre it falls into.
Why? I won't get into the nitty gritty details here, so here's the simple version: the genre determines just about everything about your book and how it will be marketed and sold, from how it's programmed into databases, to its cover design, to where it's sent for reviews and where and how its promoted for sale. Really: everything.
Write in whatever genre you like--just know exactly what it is when you're selling it.
Black Spot Books specializes in titles of speculative fiction. This literary genre is a broad umbrella term that touches upon most genres, so we try to break it down clearly in our submission guidelines and materials for aspiring authors. Still, for many the term "speculative fiction" can be a little murky, so this blog is an attempt at a crystallization process to make the term as clear and approachable as possible.
Let's start with a basic, simple definition:
Speculative Fiction encompasses works in which the setting is other than the real world, involving supranational, futuristic, or other imagined elements. This includes science fiction, fantasy, superhero fiction, science fantasy, horror and supernatural (or paranormal) fiction.
Still with me? Good.
Basically, if the novel is one that's outside of the grounded-in-realtity everyday world and explores something "unusual," it's quite possibly a work of speculative fiction.
Here's a few of my favorite works of speculative fiction, broken down by genre with familiar titles as examples:
Fantasy | Includes elements and beings divined from imagination, like mythical creatures (dragons and fairies), magic and magical elements (sorcery, witchcraft, etc.)
Example: The Hobbit, Harry Potter
Science Fiction | Features natural sciences and technologies that do not exist in real life (but may in the future), including robots, interstellar travel, flying cars and beings and societies (aka aliens) from other planets.
Example: The Martian, The Windup Girl
Horror | Similar to fantasy, but focusing on terrifying, evil and often powerful beings, such as monsters and ghosts. Aims to transmit fear and, basically, scare the hell out of you.
Example: The Shining, Interview with the Vampire
Utopia | Takes place in a highly desirable society, often presented as advanced, happy, intelligent or even perfect or problem-free.
Example: Ecotopia, 17776
Dystopia | The anti to Utopia, these take place in a highly undesirable society, often plagued with strict control, violence, chaos, brainwashing and other negative elements.
Examples: 1984, Brave New World
Apocalyptic | Takes place before and during a massive, worldwide disaster.
Examples: Heart of Darkness, The Map of Time
Post-apocalyptic | Focuses on groups of survivors after a massive, worldwide disaster.
Example: World War Z
There are, of course, other genres that fall into this list--like superheroes and alternate history--but I've focused on those represented by Black Spot Books.
I hope this helps the murky waters of speculative fiction become just a little bit more clear--now, don't be afraid to dip your toes in these waters and get to writing!
Fair winds and following seas,