"Dead" Genres in Traditional Publishing vs Indie

I was watching a YouTube video that helped confirm for me that self-publishing is the way to go. Apparently there are genres that are “dead” in traditional publishing but they still exist in Indie Publishing. Or there are genres that exist in Indie that do not exist in traditional publishing like “New Adult.”

And the YouTuber’s advice is to read the genre I’m writing for but that means I have to know for sure what genre I’m writing for. How do you pick genres? I tend to choose romance because that is usually the “focus” of my stories but they tend to have other stuff like crime family beef in a totally made up world or in my newer experiment, a dystopian world where there are beings that are “hybrids” as in part human/part whatever vs those that appear wholly human. Do I have to just pick one main genre and one sub-genre?

Man, this is hard haha. Thoughts on the dead/non-existent genres? I wish there was a list somewhere.


It is only dead because the trend has shifted. Sci-Fi Romance/ Dystopian Romance isn’t selling enough to make large publishers want a manuscript like that.


I may not be the right person to ask, though, because the closest I’ve come to reading a dystopian book this decade is listen to Orden Ogan.

The Alister Vale saga would make for a good dark fantasy series, but only for the adult market. Mostly because he is undead and pretty ugly.


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Also, is Kaiji dsyutopian?




I’d need to see the video to have a clue.


Yes, that is correct. This is because trad-publishing goes off of what is currently trending. What is currently trending will not be trending in 5 years from now, or even in a few months. What used to trend 10 years ago, isn’t trending now. So some dead genres, specifically in teen fiction, are dystopians and paranormal romances. Maze Runner and Twilight were the last few of their kind because after they got published, and became a hit, the genre trend died. According to the publishers, people got sick of these genres. They wanted something else. So they became “dead.”

This doesn’t mean they will never pop up again or that you can’t sell a paranormal romance or dystopian novel. But it does mean that it makes the author’s job harder. Which is why self-publishing works for those that want to write in genres, target audiences, or other that wouldn’t necessarily thrive trad-publishing. So to speak. Because publishers can be wrong. Rachel Hollis, example, couldn’t sell her clean new adult/adult romance novel because it didn’t have sex. Every publisher that wanted it, thought it wouldn’t sell as is. She didn’t want to add it, and they said no one would ever buy it. So she self-published it and proved them wrong. She did grow quite a decent audience from it.

The genre is what makes up the whole story. Whether it’s the setting, the theme, etc. You have the main genres like fantasy and sci-fi, but then you also have other genres that fit under an umbrella of those terms like high fantasy and dystopian. Picking the main genre is basically thinking of what the story is about. Harry Potter features magic and fantastical creatures. It’s classified as fantasy. If you dig deeper, think about its setting. It’s set in the modern world in modern times. It’s low fantasy. The Hobbit deals with similar features. Also fantasy. It’s set on a whole other world. It’s high fantasy. Star Wars is set in space with high tech. It’s science fiction. If you dig deeper into its setting and elements, you would also find that it’s a space opera. The Hunger Games is set on Earth in the future with high tech. It’s science fiction. If you look closely to its situation, you’d discover that it’s a dystopian.

Figuring out what each main genre means and some of the genres underneath it can help you understand what your story could be.

This is also why it’s best to kind of know what genre the book is before you write your story, because it helps you understand where you’re heading to. Instead of mushing a bunch of random things together and not knowing what your story is. The genre is what describes your story, and if you can’t describe it with its genre, you may have a hard time advertising it.

Sounds like a sci-fi fantasy. And if your romance is the main point, that will be your sub genre. Having a setting and characters that are not from our world basically helps make up the genre of your story because that is pretty vital from the get go. If you market your story as a romance, people automatically assume your story is contemporary. If you say historical romance, it’s a story that takes place in the past in our world. If you say fantasy, it takes place either in our world or other with fantastical creatures like in ACOTAR. If you say sci-fi fantasy, you’re describing the setting and possible fantastical creatures. Like for example, Ice Planet Barbarians is an erotic novel that is science fantasy.

Just the main genre. Subgenres are fine too since most books have more than one genre, but unless that subgenre is the main focal point, you don’t always have to explain it.

For example, Twilight is a paranormal romance. The main genre is romance but it’s subgenre is paranormal. It has to be addressed that you’re getting more than just a plain love story.

But then you have something like Book Lovers where it’s main focus is romance. No crazy setting or other that could pull the reader aside to assess the situation.


I think I’m just afraid to stick my story in the “wrong box” so to speak. I try to look at some webtoons I like as an example even though the medium is different. There is a historical one that has magical elements and romance, but it’s not under romance and so I feel like a lot of potential romance readers miss it because they don’t realize its in there. At the same time, it’s like you said. When I look at the “romance” section of a bookstore, it’s mostly billionaire/boy next door/childhood friends to lovers etc. So if you want something that isn’t based on the real world, it’s kind of hard to find in that section.

Would it still be sci-fi if the characters are born that way, not created? They’re still technically “human” because their ancestors were human. They didn’t mix with another species to be born that way, a cataclysmic event happens where one day, humans “turned” into monsters. Some part of the way and they retain their humanity vs the majority that turned all the way and have lost their humanity. :thinking:

Is there anywhere I can easily find a list of genres/sub-genres specifically for Indie publishing?

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Ooh, gonna watch this one. The one I watched doesn’t seem to have a huge following but she says some stuff that has really helped me.

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Holy- I just realized this video is 44 mins! Not ADHD friendly haha :laughing:


Neither are the chapters in Casey McQuiston’s stories :smiley:


It is if you are invested inn the topic.


That’s why it’s vital to do some research into what genres are and then be honest with yourself with what your story is mostly about.

Every book has multiple genres, but they do focus on one to two main ones. Sometimes it’s based off setting and then the theme, sometimes it’s just theme, and sometimes it’s just plot device or a mixture of the few.

A book that has a murder mystery in it but doesn’t focus on the murder part and only the romance doesn’t belong in murder mystery. It’s a romance with a murder mystery added drama. It’s also good to go into a bookstore or library and imagine where your book would be categorized. What themes, similar plots, etc. fit in with other books? Do you have a book about ghosts and demons and is meant to scare the reader? Horror it is. A book with an astronaut who is lost in space? Science fiction. Etc.

As said before, it really helps with doing a bit of research on the topic.

I would say yes.

Science fiction deals with all sorts of topics which also includes scientifically theoretical topics such as evolution. In the 2002 movie the Time Machine, humans evolve into monster and ape-like creatures. There is a backstory that helps back it up, such as the moon breaking and people living underground to survive and then after hundreds of thousands of years, humans revert to primitive lifestyles. The movie is science fantasy.

And you can also see this kind of thing with apocalyptic fiction, or anything that deals with changing the DNA or appearance of humankind.

Genres go for both industries because it’s a writing utensil, not a publishing one.

But Reedsy has a great list of them:

Also found these…


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