I am developing a story about a spiritual journey. The book could be marketed under several guises such as magic realism, fantasy, religious, adventure...

I was thinking that the best approach might be to target the most marketable and publishable sector.

Do you know where to find genre rankings, or in my case which sector would give me the most chance to be published and read?


It is a multi-part story about a person being thrown into a spiritual awakening. I thought about doing it from a kid’s perspective like several “children” spiritual metaphorical stories. However the content might be too complex and it is a series of a least 5 books. The hero could be young but 25 to 45 years old, at the start of his adventures, may be more realistic.

For the genre there are similarities to Richard Bach “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah “or Paulo Coelho‘s “The Alchemist”. I guess it is magic realism in tone, but I am not wholly certain as the main focus is on the progression of the spiritual journey resulting from a series of situations. Also, while it is spiritual in content, it is more like a series of evolutive adventures (no it is not a Harry Potter imitation), and is hopefully very visual, action oriented, and tentatively somewhat humorous.

Moreover, I have absolutely no pretensions of literature; it would be, at best, stylistically like a genre story. The main reason is that as a non-native English user, I might be able to pull a genre story but definitely not a literary one, and no I don’t want to write it in another language.

Also, the main reason I would tentatively classify it as magic realism is that it is in part autobiographical and there are some fantasy elements, but I am a bit uncomfortable with this classification and am not sure it is so, from a publisher point of view. As I asked, if there is a way to improve the likelihood of being published by marketing it under a more desirable format, I am all up for it.

  • In answer to the “why don't you write it first and worry about the marketing category later?”

I have outlined and developed various inter-weaving secondary subplots to the main stories in each book. The book is mostly written in my head and each scene, or chapter is pretty well developed. However, I can shift some focus one way or another to more closely fit into a genre. I am writing it mostly to communicate with readers not for my own vanity, nor self-satisfaction. If I don’t think that there is not even a slight chance to be traditionally published, I would not spend months fleshing out the first book, or years for the whole series. I kind of need a genre as I am a genre reader, and it does seem essential too to find an agent and traditional publisher.

  • Expand a bit more on the content of the book? A 'spiritual journey' like Shirley Maclean on the Camino Real? (Travel/Spirituality) Or like Bilbo Baggins in Mordor? (Fantasy) Or like Nelson Mandella in prison? (Biography)
    – A E
    Nov 8, 2014 at 10:27
  • 2
    I don't see how this needs any genre label at all. To me this is general fiction. Also, why don't you write it first and worry about the marketing category later? There is time for that durimg rewriting, or even after the final draft.
    – user5645
    Nov 9, 2014 at 16:05

1 Answer 1


It is fine to write the first draft of a book in one genre, and later revise the book to fit in another genre. Many successful books have been written this way.

For example, "The Amazon's Right Breast" is an essay by Tom Kratman about how he drafted a non-fiction book about women serving in the military. It was the first book he wrote. "In the end, though, [he] didn't like it. So [he] set it aside and worked on" another story that eventually got published as science fiction. "At that point, [he] rewrote the [original] book, then still called The Amazon’s Right Breast, as a novel, set in the same universe as the others. [He] liked that a lot better, well enough to let [us] all see it."

Note that every published novelist has to write a first novel sometime. And most of those first novels are not worth publishing. If you are lucky, your early drafts will give you practice and material for writing successful stories.

Also note that (if you let it) a project can take decades to reach fruition. It is wise to choose projects that let you get feedback much sooner than that. Many authors start out with short stories. If some of the short stories are successful, they write more stories with the same characters and/or settings, and work their way up to novels and series. Kratman is capable of writing lots of material quickly, so he was able to start with novels.

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