Absolute LiabilityBook marketingpublishingPublishing Fear Freeself-publishingSouthern Fraud Series

You Smell Where I’m Stepping?

One of the challenges of my new Southern Fraud series is that I’m blending several genres: thriller, mystery, humor, drama, and just a hint of romance. I liken it more to crime dramedy TV shows than to most books I’ve read. Obviously, there’s a market for a mix of thrills, mystery, humor, drama, and romance; it’s on TV every night. But I’ve had a hard time finding that same balance in books.

Janet Evanovich is mostly over-the-top humor. Kathy Reichs is all about science and mystery. I could name a dozen romantic suspense writers, but Linda Howard came to mind first. Ditto dramatic and serious thriller writers. There seems to be a lot of separation in books where there is more of a mix in TV land. I wanted to create that mix in Southern Fraud.

I think I’ve achieved my goal, but as a result of blending genres, I struggle with how to label (and to some extent market) the series. If I call it a thriller, people will expect pins-and-needles action all the way through with a creepy peek in the mind of the criminal. Mystery: a whodunit with no peek at the criminal. Humor: anything from dry puns to men slipping on banana peels. Drama: lots of angst on every page. Romance: red hot love scenes every fifty pages.

Even in my cover design, I had to be careful. Absolute Liability is not so action-packed that I need a cover complete with explosion. But it’s not a cozy where the gun should not be featured. Nor is it totally serious. I tried to walk a fine line with a fun cover that features the gun prominently (twice! I didn’t want anyone to be confused).

For clarity’s sake, I’m contemplating a few changes and conducting a few experiments. I’ll probably be renaming the series “Southern Fraud Novels” just so it will be a tad more generic, and readers won’t be disappointed not to have a straight up thriller. I’m also playing with my Amazon subgenre lists. Absolute Liability fits well in the “Women Sleuths” category, but where else do I go? Mystery, humor, romantic suspense? I’m not sure. I’ve decided to try humor and see how that goes. Even though it’s not a full-on laugh-riot comedy either, it does feature quirky characters doing odd things.

I do not want to misrepresent the book, but in my genre bending world, it’s a challenge to find its place. My description clearly states that it’s a blend of “suspense, humor, and Southern charm with just a hint of romance,” but is it clear enough? Did you get what you expected?

I guess my question is “you smell where I’m stepping?”

All advice welcome.

7 thoughts on “You Smell Where I’m Stepping?

  1. I haven’t read the whole book yet, Jennifer, but I like the word “dramedy.” If it fits better than mystery, than why not use it: Southern Fraud Dramedy (“S.F. Novel” falls a little flat, I think)? That plus your clever cover design should clearly convey the tone. Another possibility – describe it as a “not-so-cozy mystery.”

  2. I hesitate to use the word dramedy because it’s a TV word, not a book word, but that doesn’t mean I’m not considering it. Thanks for the input!

  3. Jennifer –

    I really enjoyed Absolute Liability. I’m looking forward to future books. It was an interesting mix of mystery and I really enjoyed the chapters that let you get inside the head of the bad guy.

    Thanks for a great read!

  4. Thank you so much for reading Absolute Liability, JJ! It means a lot to me! And thanks for posting here. Hearing straight from you really helps me know whether or not I’m hitting the mark with the writing and the marketing.

    I so glad you enjoyed it,

  5. I’m not so skittish about category that we should be worried about getting it right. What I mean, I guess, is that getting it wrong will be irrelevant for your readers if the book is good enough. Dark drama’s lighten things with comedy. More internal works can break tempo with action. Hell, Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections) says he never trusts a great book unless it’s funny.

  6. That’s good advice, Kevin. I find I agree with what you’re saying. I can’t completely pigeonhole my book into a category, but I can give a good description and offer a good read, even if it’s not exactly what they expected. This is the kind of advice I keep you around for.


  7. Is there a “good book” category? If so, you could post it there for sure . . .

    How dare you bend genres? How DARE you? We have little round holes and little round pegs for a reason. Take your square peg and go home ;p

    I don’t hate Southern Fraud Novels . . .

    Southern Fraud Mysteries?

    How about just The Southern Fraud Series

    I’m having some serious issues with naming a series at the moment . . . not sure I really want to, but it IS a series.

    This is a very long, rambling post. Apologies!

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