Yakkety Yak: Do Labels Matter?

Posted August 19, 2018 by Shari in Yakkety Yak Let's Chat / 27 Comments

Yakkety Yak...Let's Chat

Have you ever finished a book and thought, “I enjoyed the book, but I think they labeled it wrong?” or, “I was expecting something different after seeing the label for this one.”

I’ve said this a few times in my own reviews.  For me, this issue crops up mostly when it comes to romantic suspense vs. a mystery or thriller with romantic elements, historical romance vs a historical fiction with romantics elements, or contemporary romance vs a women’s fic or chick lit with romantic elements.  Or, hey, it might just be a sneaky crossover that is actually both.

Review Deeper Than Need by Shiloh Walker

This is not a gripe per se because I don’t really feel all that testy about it.  I would probably read the book either way.  However, I’d enjoy it more if my expectations were in the right place from the get-go.

When I see ‘mystery’ as the genre label, I assume that I’m getting just that and, if it has a romance, then ‘score’, but I don’t expect the romance to be completely fleshed out.  However, if it is a romantic suspense or a contemporary romance with just a whiff of suspense then that changes things.  The romance better be given time to start, develop, and take up a great deal of the story.  I thought Shiloh Walker’s Secrets and Shadows series was a great example of a well-balanced romantic suspense and Loretta Ross’ Auction House mysteries have a nice side romance element with the mystery.

Lately, I’ve noticed a trend in some romance authors to give women’s fiction a go when it really is still a contemporary romance with a strong dose of family, friendship, or personal growth.  But the opposite is true as well, there are contemporary romances that are better labeled women’s or general fiction since the romance is less developed than the character or other story elements.  A good example of a series I felt would be enjoyed more if it’s understood to be a crossover women’s fiction/contemporary romance is Molly Harper’s Southern Eclectic series (Lorna and I did a dual review on that one recently).  And, just to give you an example of a good general fiction with a romance element, there are Sarah Addison Allen’s books.

All, that to say, that when it comes to romance, it really matters to me what genre label the authors and publishers slap on their books and how they describe it in marketing promos and blurbs because then readers will know what is the focal point and how much romance development they can expect.

What’s your opinion on this?  Do tell!

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Shari is the Delighted Reader. Married to her Prince Charming and mother to two Princesses and one Prince. When she is not slaving away as Cinderella she loves to get lost in the pages of a good book. Never without a reading device and a few good paperback books, because she never knows when she might get 5 minutes to read!

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Melliane
Guest

you’re right, it’s important because it’s also one of the things I look at too

Sophia Rose
Guest

Yes, so many readers want a book that matches their romance mood that it really is important to get a good blurb or label.

Karen
Guest
Karen

Not so much labeling but misleading covers.

I recently received Morgan Matson’s Save the Date for review and it looked like an adorable romcom & the summary made it sound like there was a bigger romance than there was.

And another book I read last year (I can’t remember the name) but that also have a cute pastel, ice-cream cover a romance-y blurb but it was pretty dark with a mystery and trauma.

Karen @ For What It’s Worth

Sophia Rose
Guest

Now, isn’t that the truth. I’ve had covers trick me, too. Some colors and visual elements lead me to thinking it s a certain genre, too.

Mary Kirkland
Guest

I’ve had that happen a couple of times before. it was labeled PNR but it felt more like Horror to me. lol

Sophia Rose
Guest

Yeah, that would be a shocker if you weren’t expecting it. LOL That would be a hair-raising surprise for me. 🙂

Lola
Guest

I think labels matter as they influence our expectations of a book. And sometimes if you have the wrong expectations you can end up being disappointed if a book doesn’t fit that. Like your romantic suspense example. If I pick up a romantic suspense I expect a good romance and suspense and if it reads more like a contemporary romance read with some suspense, that could be disappointed if that’s not what I was in the mood for. I also think that’s why spot on marketing and promotion is so important as it helps shape readers expectations about the book.

Sophia Rose
Guest

Yes, a reader who is disappointed or confused will hesitate the next time if the blurbs and marketing are off.

Kimberly Caffeinated Reviewer
Guest

I do think they matter. You go in with certain expectations and find something else. I understand the pubs and author’s push to move into another genre for crossover, but yes I think Molly’s books are more inline with Robyn Carr and the like.

Sophia Rose
Guest

Yes, the attempt to widen the reader audience is understandable, but like you, I think its a big deal that the labels are accurate.

Carole's Random Life
Guest

I do think that books need to be labeled with the proper category. I am a bit of a mood reader so sometimes I grab a book because I want a certain kind of read and when I get something else sometimes it works but sometimes it doesn’t.

Sophia Rose
Guest

Yes, the need to find what suits the mood is a big part of my issue, too. Sometimes I want romance, but at other times I want a stronger mystery or history (etc) motif.

Angela
Guest

Great post. I think it does matter on how they are labeled. You go in with expectations and find something else. I pick something up expecting one thing then get another and it either works or it doesn’t, but for the most part they don’t work because it’s not what I was wanting.

Sophia Rose
Guest

Yes, I’ve had surprises like that, too. Generally, I can adjust my expectation, but when it comes to my mood… not so much and then I’m bummed about the book. 🙂 Thanks, Angela!

Angela
Guest

For me I’m a mood reader and I have the hardest time adjusting when I’m expecting something and it ends up being different.

Sophia Rose
Guest

I hear you on that one. My mood has made me set aside perfectly good books until I’m ready for them so mistaking a genre or central element in a story can be a huge thing.

Angela
Guest

Ya, I’ve put down good books too just cause the mood wasn’t working. Having elements in a story not be what I was think makes a difference to me and will affect how I feel about the book. I go in looking for one thing and get something different.

Sophia Rose
Guest

It does affect the feeling. I try not to let it, but getting a surprise and being forced to adjust isn’t always easy. 🙂

Sophia Rose
Guest

I didn’t touch on that, but yes, there are a handful I’ve read that aren’t in the right age level either based on labels and blurb. Good one, Alyssa! That is important to me, too.

Carole Rae
Guest

A good post indeed. Wrong titles dont bother me as much as covers that just dont fit

Sophia Rose
Guest

Oh yes, it can distract me when I have a blonde heroine in a dress when it should be a brunette in a different style gown or something. Or, its got a man on the cover when the book is focused on a woman. Yep, I hear you, Carole. 🙂

Lover Of Romance
Guest

Great post you have on here!! Publishers have to look at things from a business perspective, So when it comes to marketing a book they will label it to sell it more. I don’t always agree with the way its done. Especially when it can be misleading.

Sophia Rose
Guest

You are so right about the marketing being the key to it and totally get that they want to sell more books. But yeah, it can lead to some surprises. Thanks, Renee!

Sharonda
Guest

its also very confusing when you’re writing your reviews…like what genre do I list?…smh. I understand the marketing aspect but correct labels would help readers immensly.

Sophia Rose
Guest

So true! I’ve had books that were literally a 50/50 or even a 33/33/33 split on what genre they fall into and I have no idea which one to pick (eeny meeny miney moe happens). 🙂

Sharonda
Guest

lols @ eeny meeny miney moe. Yup! it’s very frustrating. I feel like the author/publisher should list it

Sophia Rose
Guest

Definitely the author b/c surely they know what genre their book is. LOL