My writing is focused primarily on love stories, i.e. the romance genre, and I believe this reaches a relatively small audience.

Is there one genre that appeals to a far wider audience than its nearest competitor? Is there a single genre that appeals to all readers?

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    I believe that's called "quality," colloquially known as "it doesn't suck." Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 12:29
  • Good story, good characters, good story, good characters, the genre doesn't matter. Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 13:29
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    There isn't one single genre that appeals to absolutely everybody. And few people hate a genre so much that they won't read a well-written work in it. So it's better to write in the genre(s) that you're excited about, and work on those other things. Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 16:16
  • If your question here is at all indicative of your general writing style, you might want to continue a bit further down the path of learning English before you start trying to "hit everyone's interest." Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 4:42
  • Micaela, welcome to Writers.SE. I'd like to say that I regret the torrent of downvotes on your first question; I suspect that people are reacting to the fact that writing a book based on this kind of genre cherry-picking would likely produce an utterly vapid story. The question itself is a good one; thanks for asking it. It's produced some excellent answers, which is what these sites are all about. Again, welcome, and please keep asking questions! Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 5:11

4 Answers 4


The problem is not the genre. Lots of people read lots of love stories. The problem is that (up until now) there's a mismatch between your stories and your readers.

In trying to leap from reaching only a few to reaching everyone, you're setting yourself an impossible task. There is no genre that reaches everyone of all ages and genres. Heck, there is no genre that reaches every teenager, or every 16-year-old, or every 16-year-old girl. If you can't reach all the 16-year-old girls, there's no way to reach everyone of every age. People differ in their interests.

Perhaps there is an audience for the stories you're writing, and you just haven't found the audience yet.

And perhaps there are stories for the audience you have in mind, and you just haven't found the stories yet.

So keep writing, keep improving your stories, and keep seeking your audience.

  • Thanks for this advice! I'll take note of these. And keep them in mind as much as I can. ^^ Thank you very much! :) Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 3:42

There is no single genre that piques everyone's interest, just as not all stories within a genre pique the interest of readers in that genre. People who tend to read mysteries will by nature simply miss the release of most or all romance stories, but if you switch to writing mysteries you will probably lose a good number of your romance readers.

You could try writing a novel that spanned all genres, which might be an interesting exercise, but even that book would not appeal to everyone. Many habitual readers of a genre prefer things to fit within the mold somewhat, and for variation to occur somewhat within the confines of the limits of that genre. That's not to say that there aren't genre-spanning works that have been successful, but in most stories one genre predominates.

This is partly due to how most fiction has traditionally come to the attention of the average reader. Traditional publishing has been categorized into genres for quite some time, and when a publishing house considers whether to take on a new book for publication, they try to analyze whether it will appeal to fans of the genre. They know that when people go to a bookstore, for instance, the romance readers head for the romance section, and so on. This categorization occurs on book-selling sites and in book-of-the-month clubs as well. The categorization extends to magazines and a good many online sources of fiction as well. It's almost inescapable.

The mere fact of this categorization means that a good many readers wind up self-selecting by the time they're exposed to a book. Thus if you were to write even a successful romance novel, it would simply never come to the attention of most mystery or sci-fi readers.

Nor if you wrote an intentionally genre-catchall novel or short story would I expect it to be treated as more than an oddity. Would you want to read a romance-western-space-opera-historical-drama-comedy-horror-action-adventure? (Hmm... that actually sounds kind of interesting in a silly way, especially if you consider stripping out one or two of the genres.) Even if so, how many would? Do you think it would qualify as Great Literature, and appeal to its readers? Note also that some types of stories are simply incompatible, even within a single genre, for example space operas and "hard" science fiction.

(Note that there have been many authors who have spanned genres, but they tend to show variation within their entire body of work and not to be evenly spread between genres. An example is Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote some science fiction but who is not primarily remembered as a sci-fi author. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is another possible example that comes to mind, and in general many authors who adopt fantastic or magical-realist elements within their works might seem to straddle genres. However, here I think there is an additional division between serious literature and what's often called genre fiction, which is written to intentionally fit within a genre.)

Thus attempting to write genre-spanning genre fiction is not the answer, especially as that phrase likely qualifies as an oxymoron. The real thrust of your question seems to be that you're dissatisfied with your current readership. There are two main areas where you can more usefully focus your efforts: increasing the quality of your writing, and marketing the results. The former is far too broad a general topic for the focused question-and-answer format of this site. There are many books available on the craft of writing, even whole series dealing with different subtopics in turn (characters, plot, etc.). I'd read these first.

Aspects of the Novel, by E.M. Forster
On Writing, by Stephen King
Telling Lies for Fun & Profit: A Manual for Fiction Writers, by Lawrence Block
Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

Regarding marketing, I'm afraid that you are going to run up against some hard facts of the modern writer's life. While e-publishing has enabled many new writers to theoretically reach a wide audience, the reality is more depressing. Amazon and similar sites are so choked with ebook-only releases by unknown writers that potential readers, the ones that don't instantly head for the Stephen King and Jodi Picoult releases, are extremely scattered. Thus even if you were to write a marvel of a romance novel or anything else, you'd be foolish to expect it to coast to bestseller status just on the basis of online reader reviews. Fan fiction sites and other forms of cheap or free online forms of electronic fiction self-publishing fall prey to the same mass obscurity.

Thus if you want to reach a mass audience, you're probably looking at dealing with traditional publishers (Writer's Market is a good resource for targeting those). Unfortunately, the outlook has become considerably more bleak in the last several decades. Market forces set in motion by the wide availability of computers and the internet have made it tougher to become a successful fiction writer, by driving the ongoing demise of paper as well as greatly increasing the level of competition. NaNoWriMo and computer use in general have resulted in a massive increase in the number of novels written and submitted to publishers as well, making it harder than ever for high-quality novels to stand out and be accepted for publication. At one time magazines were a relatively easy way to break into professional writing, but the market for print magazines has diminished. Surviving magazines tend to pay less for short fiction, at the same time as they tend to have a much larger volume of submissions than in the past. There are number of online literary reviews and similar edited sites today that accept submissions from new writers, many of which sites do not offer pay for new work but merely the opportunity to publish on their site, but readership of such sites is not widespread, and publishing a particular story in such a fashion could greatly restrict chances at getting a traditional publisher to consider it later. Getting published on such sites seems mainly useful for padding one's resume or cover letter when submitting a work to a traditional publisher.

Finally, stay away from vanity presses. Money should always flow toward, not away from, an author.

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    This question did not deserve an answer of that length. Seriously. Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 4:35
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    @Aerovistae - I respectfully disagree. The question certainly does betray a lack of understanding of what genre is in the first place; this answer attempts to correct that. Just because a question is very basic doesn't mean it deserves our scorn. Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 5:05
  • Oh, way to make me feel guilty... Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 6:07

Short answer: No. There is no genre that everybody reads. Some have broader appeal than others, but I think romance novels are well near the broadest appeal.

If your books aren't selling, there are two obvious possible problems: 1. They're not good enough, in which case you need to work on becoming a better writer. I'm not saying you're a bad writer: I have no idea, I've never read anything you've written. But even if you're a very good writer, I'm sure you could always become better. 2. Marketing. Maybe lots of people would love your stuff but they've never seen it. The reality of the publishing business -- of any business, really -- is that producing a great product is only half the job. People have to know about it. You could write the greatest novel in the history of the world, but if you don't do something to tell people it exists ... well, very few people go door to door asking if anyone who lives there has written a new novel lately.


The one type of writing that everyone enjoys reading is about themselves or at least about characters that they recognise as someone they could be.

Perhaps your love stories have a limited audience not because they are "love stories" but because the range of characters in them is restricted. Are you writing about the same kinds of people all the time?

Look at one of your works and select an important character (but not the principal figure). Now imagine that character was 20 years older (or younger), or born in a different country and migrated to the site of your tale, or more highly educated, or less physically attractive. How would the story change? It is almost certain that at least one of these changes will impact on the development of your plot. And if it does not, keep looking -- what if the character had a disability, or an exceptional athletic talent, or almost anything in the range that makes each of us different and looking for different things in our reading preferences.

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