Challenges Faced by Genre Authors and Popular Genres in the UK
UK genre fiction has had continued success over the last number of decades. Readers especially love crime, fantasy, and romance genres in the UK. The popularity of genre fiction in the UK has translated to success in other parts of the world. Let's look at popular genres in the UK and the challenges faced by gene authors, as well as some tips on overcoming genre author challenges.
What Is Genre Fiction?
So, before we get into why genre fiction has become popular (especially in the UK) and the challenges faced by genre authors (we will also give you some tips), let's establish what the term genre fiction actually means.
As we know, fiction books are books with stories that are made up (as opposed to non-fiction, which are factual books). And fiction books can be divided into two categories. These are:
- Literary Fiction
- Genre Fiction
As the names suggest, they are both fiction books, but they are stories crafted in different ways. Let's start with literary fiction. These books tend to be more character-driven and read as though they are based on real life. Literary fiction tries to resemble the real world and generally lacks fantastical elements, with the characters and settings in the story made to look realistic. A story that is literary fiction could be thought of as something that could realistically happen in real life.
While genre fiction could have some of these elements (for example, some characters could be realistic and the story could be set in a real place), they differ in that they tend to follow a formula related to the genre and don't have to have any elements that relate directly to real-world people, places, or things. Genre fiction books usually fall under the category of:
- Science Fiction
A genre fiction book of any of these types will usually follow a predetermined formula, and while their stories may differ, they will generally feature similar tropes. Here are some examples to explain this:
- Fantasy books will usually be set in a magical, wondrous world and have a hero going on a journey to find something special or master a magical skill. There will usually be fantastical creatures and an evil villain who wants to corrupt things.
- Romance stories often follow the story of two people (often two young and good-looking people because, well, welcome to society) meeting and falling in love, and then having to overcome an obstacle, such as a disproving family member or pressure from their community, in order to be together.
- Science Fiction books often feature the main characters going to other planets, different dimensions, or traveling through time and encountering otherworldly beings such as aliens or mythical creatures. Usually, these stories have technology in the real world that we could only dream of.
- In a horror book, there will usually be references to someone or something being evil, and often, the story will feature supernatural or violent themes. Other horror tropes include nighttime or darkness, monsters, and death.
- In a crime story, the detective always solves the case just in time, but first, there will be a few twists and turns. Often, there will be a red herring (a person the reader is led to believe did the crime), and the innocent person will always have their name cleared in the end, with the criminal getting their comeuppance.
So, you can see that genre fiction tends to hit on certain themes and tropes. This doesn't mean every story in the above types of genre fiction is the exact same, but while the specifics change, there is often a basic formula that they will follow.
The origins of genre fiction as we know it today can be traced back to ancient Greek storytelling. In their poems, dramas, and stories, there was, like there is today, a typical formula. Ancient Greek epic poems tended to have notes they usually hit upon, and dramas would follow a formula depending on whether they were a tragedy or a comedy. It was only in the 20th century that a true distinction began to be made between literary fiction and genre fiction, and nowadays, they exist separately, but authors can write both and they sometimes cross over. In the publishing industry, genre fiction is often known as category fiction because it has multiple subcategories.
The Popularity of Genre Fiction in the UK
Surveys over the last few years suggest that over one-third of British people prefer to read fiction books, in comparison to the 20% that prefer non-fiction. Women, in particular, prefer fiction. So why are genre fictions so popular in the UK?
Well, for one thing, there is a history of well-established titles in UK media that fall into the category of genre fiction. Two big examples are the Harry Potter series, which was adapted for film, and the James Bond franchise, which, although now mainly appearing on the big screen, actually started out as a genre fiction book series. These two franchises, in particular, have achieved worldwide success and captured many people's imaginations.
The success of genre fiction media in both film, TV, and books can be attributed to the audience's desire to be entertained. This is especially true when it comes to reading. We like to escape into a new world when we pick up a book. Oftentimes, this means we want a story that is not based on reality. Part of the escapism of genre fiction books, too, is familiarity. Although each book is different, there are similarities throughout, such as the tropes and themes that feature. It can be therapeutic and relaxing to read about our heroes' adventures that take place in a reality completely different from our own. As well as this, what separates genre fiction from literary fiction is that the latter generally has a sort of life lesson in it. While this is valuable, it can require us to spend more energy in order to reflect on morality when sometimes we just want to switch off and escape into a fantasy world.
Popular Genres in the UK
Crime, fantasy, and romance genres in the UK are among the most popular books for the average consumer. Surveys at the start of the decade showed crime, mystery, and thriller books, in particular, were very popular, and they continue to be the favorites among UK fiction readers. By looking at the Amazon UK list of bestsellers in fiction, we can see that most of the books that feature in the top 25 fall into the categories of crime, fantasy, or romance.
So, if you are a fiction author who is writing a crime mystery thriller, a fantasy adventure, or a romance to pull at the reader's heartstrings, the UK is absolutely a key market to promote your book in. Thankfully, with the ease of online shopping these days, you can sell your books overseas. And there are convenient ways to promote yourself as an author online. Broadening your target audience to include UK readers is a surefire way to achieve success in the international market for North American-based authors.
The popularity of genre fiction in the UK and around the world will likely be sustained throughout time, with fiction continuing to be a favorite among avid readers.
Challenges Faced by Genre Authors
One of the challenges faced by genre authors is coming up with a fresh premise. Sure, books in the same categories of genre fiction will have themes and tropes that cross over, but when it comes to the actual specifics of your story, it is a major challenge to think up something new. There have been so many different crime books with a twist, fantasy novels with magical worlds, and romance books that feature unorthodox relationships that it can be hard to set those aside and come up with something original. It's not necessary to completely reinvent the whole world of reading in your book, but it is necessary to come up with a premise that will entertain your readers.
Once you have that premise, writing the book is the next challenge. Starting is always the hardest part; that blank screen or page is staring at you, but even when you get a few chapters in, there will come a time when writers' block will strike. It's particularly common when writing a story to get stuck somewhere in the middle. You likely know what the ending of your story will be, or at least you have a rough idea of how things are going to turn out. And you will have an idea of where your story is going to start. However, it can be very challenging to bridge the gap between the beginning and the end of a book. In particular, it is difficult to come up with something to keep the middle from being dull and losing the readers' interest. It is very easy for the pacing to fall away in the book during the middle part of your character's journey.
This can happen because writing a piece of genre fiction takes a lot of creative energy from the author. At the start, you are very excited and have great ideas for the book you want to write, but then it is easy to lose momentum. There are a lot of stories that are left unfinished because the author can't maintain their enthusiasm or productivity in writing.
This relates to another aspect of writing a genre of book: Mastering the way to tell a story in order to keep the reader interested all the way and capture their imagination. A trap authors can fall into is that they will overdo it with exposition. When it comes to giving necessary information in the book, you do not want never-ending sentences that overexplain everything. At the same time, it is important to have enough description to keep your reader interested.
After all that, it is not easy to get your book noticed. Genre fiction is a difficult area of writing to break into. Getting an agent is difficult because it's so competitive, but when self-publishing, it can be hard to promote effectively. Getting your book noticed among a flood of other genre fiction books is a real challenge.
Overcoming Genre Author Challenges
So, there are a lot of challenges faced by genre authors, but writing a good genre fiction piece can be done. Here are some keys to overcoming genre-author challenges:
- Brainstorm: Idea generation is a hard part of the process. Making a mind map can be a very useful way to come up with good ideas. Get a piece of paper and write down some keywords. Branch out from those keywords with ideas. You don't have to stick with everything that you write down, and you'll find that some of your ideas won't work, but this is a good start for a simple generation of ideas.
- Point A to B to C: As mentioned, the middle part of the book can be a challenge to write. So, it can be helpful to make a sort of timeline of what happens in your book. Start with the beginning and the end, and then fill in anything you know has to happen in your story (such as characters meeting or a significant event). Then, map out how you can get from the first point to the second point, and so on. Remember, you don't have to go with your first idea and can always revise your plans.
- Write: This is an obvious but hard one. In order to write your book, you have to write! Set aside dedicated times when you are going to sit down and work on your masterpiece. Not every session will be perfect, and you won't always feel inspired, but it is important to push yourself to go through with your writing sessions.
- Ask Colleagues: If you have friends you can trust, try running your ideas by them. Getting genuine feedbackhelps us all improve our skills. Make sure you turn to people who can provide you with constructive advice on your project, and crucially, people who know what they are talking about!
- Use KIP: We all need a little bit of help from our friends sometimes, and there is no better friend to help you come up with ideas than our buddy KIP, who is a little genius. When using Dibbly Create, you will have access to KIP, which can help you generate fresh ideas and be your brainstorming buddy. KIP will help you overcome writer's block and come up with something fresh and exciting that is in keeping with your vision for a great work of genre fiction.
At Urban Writers, we have a highly skilled team of fiction writers who can help you turn your idea into a bestseller. We use vetted freelancers who are masters of crafting narratives. Want to get started? Take a look at our fiction packages to see what the Urban Writers can offer you.
The popularity of genre fiction in the UK and around the world is ever-growing, with UK genre fiction increasingly capturing the imagination of readers worldwide. While there are many challenges faced by genre authors, genre fiction shows no signs of slowing down.