Maybe you’re one of those aspiring writers where you have so many ideas in your head, you cannot sort it out. You have Kodiak bears with laser beams shooting out of their eyes. You have space vixen elves flying on the backs of giant dragons fighting against the Nazis. You have Japanese giant mechs of transformable pirate ships fighting against magic-wielding Aztec gods. Or maybe something more contemporary of just two high schoolers in a recently desegregated South who fall in love in during one of the most volatile summers in the 1950’s. So, you ask yourself, what do genre do I write?
Ask yourself this. What do you want people to recognize you for if they saw you on the street or at a book signing? What kind of conventions do you want to be the honored guest at? Or do you want to be known as an author who can tackle any genre?
If you imagine yourself as the guest of honor at Comic-Con or a similar sci-fi and fantasy convention, then the answer is easy, write fantasy and science fiction, or any of the subgenres in those categories. If that doesn’t appeal to you, then look at what your other interests are. Do you love history? Maybe a historical fiction would suit you.
Another factor you may consider is how much preparation you’ll have to put into your story prior to actually writing it. The expression “write what you know” is really important should you decide to write a historical romance set in 13th Century France and you picture your main character walking around with a six-shooter. If you want to write a medical thriller about a killer virus, you need to demonstrate some understanding of biology and how viruses spread, so your story is plausible. If a lot of research is not for you, then your genre choices are now limited.
What the Market Will Bear
You may have heard the expression, “Write what you want.” Unless your work falls in with mainstream audiences, if you write that furry BDSM erotica, your story is not likely to find much of an audience. This is fine if commercial success is not your goal. If you want to build a serious fan base, you need to write for the market. Writing for the market is simple. Go to all the big traditional publishers and read their open submission guidelines of what they want. Pay particular attention of what they don’t want. By knowing what stories they are looking for, you have an idea of what the market wants because they’ve already done the research for you.