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Category v. Genre: Yes, there is a difference!

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

By Michael Heath /

I have people often tell me that they write in the young adult genre. That is incorrect. If an author writes for readers in the age range of 11 to 18 then they are writing in the young adult category.


Categories tell whether the story is true or not, and often indicates how old the audience is. Examples of categories would be:

  • non-fiction

  • middle grade (8 to 11 years old)

  • young adult (11 to 18 years old)

  • new adult (18 to 24 years old)

  • adult-themed (18 years of age or older).


Genres tells the reader something of what the book is about; i.e. its form, style or content. Some examples of genres would be:

  • romance

  • science fiction

  • memoir

  • mystery

  • histories

  • horror

  • and adventure.

Why are these distinctions important?

It helps the author understand who to write to before hitting the keys. It makes sense that younger readers require books that are shorter in length and less complex plots than those written for older audiences. Authors should also write in a genre that they love and understand. If an author grew up in the Midwest surrounded by ranchers and cowboys, then he or she may be better off writing a Western than a vampire romance. Bookstores will want to know the genre and category so they can place it on the right bookshelf. The two distinctions are also very important to online search engines.

If you are diving into writing your first book it is suggested that a little research can go a long way. Decide what your book will be and find out what word counts are suggested for the intended audience. Think about the language you will use to assure it is age appropriate while giving your reader the best experience.

Knowing what you are writing, and to whom you are writing to, will make a big difference in getting to your intended result. Whether it is reaching a specific audience or simply selling books - an understanding of book categories and genes is worthwhile.

Let us help you design the cover, plan the layout, and order the appropriate number of books for your book marketing and sales strategy. Check out our services for self-publish authors.

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