When I talk to writers at Writers’ & Artists’ conferences, a lot of them tell me that they find it difficult pitching their books because they have trouble knowing what genre their writing falls under.
The word ‘genre’ is a French word derived from the Latin word genus which implies “type or sort”. It is used as a way of categorising or identifying a certain kind of book and therefore makes it easy for readers to know what to expect. In literature there are tons of genres, and it can really help your pitch if you can describe to an agent the genre you are writing and the readers your book may appeal to.
Some writers simply say to me that their book cannot be categorised into a specific genre, and this can definitely be the case with literary fiction which can be impossible to pin down, turning certain genres on their head. I remember the only way I could describe an accessible literary novel I was selling was ‘genre-bending’.
There is a very useful feature by the children’s author Malorie Blackman on the Writers’ & Artists’ website. She looks at different genres of children’s books to help writers define their own work or even help writers decide what kind of story they should write: genre list for children’s fiction
For adult fiction, I think the List of literary genres on Wikipedia is really helpful.