As accessibility to publishing increases, books are becoming more diverse. Genres no longer follow the cookie-cutter formats set by publishing houses. While this gives so much freedom to authors, it can also make things confusing when marketing your book.

Three genres, in particular, seem to have authors confused:

What is the difference between upmarket, commercial, and literary fiction?

Commercial fiction is often defined as books that are designed to entertain. These are the page-turners of the market. Opposite of that is literary fiction, which aims to educate or enlighten. The focus for these novels is on meaning over entertainment.

Recently, a third genre gained popularity. Upmarket fiction is the hardest to define, as it falls somewhere between commercial and literary. The truth is, there is no template. It both entertains and leaves lasting impressions. These novels are characterized by fun stories and intriguing prose.

How can you tell which genre your book falls into?

One-way people often differentiate between the three is through writing. Do you use descriptive prose? Do you tend to keep things metaphorical? Do you leave it up to the audience to discern your intentions? You’re probably writing literary fiction.

On the other hand, if your writing style is focused on keeping things enjoyable for the reader, you’re probably writing commercial fiction. If this is you, you’re more concerned about the audience experience rather than the lessons provided by your book. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have beautiful prose. Rather, your prose is used as a tool for the story rather than enlightenment.

Once again, upmarket fiction is where things get tricky. Authors of this genre have a message they want to send their audience, but they’re also invested in the reader experience. As a result, they play a balancing act. The prose of this genre isn’t too heavy, but it’s packed with meaning.

The best advice? Don’t Stress.

It can be easy to fixate over the genre, but you can’t let that influence your story. Write what you want to write. When it comes time to edit and market your work, take an honest look at your goals. Why did you write this novel? What do you want your audience to get from it?

No single genre is better than the others. The most important aspect of marketing is knowing your audience and meeting their expectations. If you can do that, you’ve already succeeded.