History is a wonderful genre because it is so vast. Unlike any other genre, you can choose any era, country and event to write about. You can even create fictional characters and have them interact with non-fictional characters. Heck, your main character can be a non-fictional character for that matter. The great thing about historical fiction is that you don’t have to ask people for permission to use them as characters—unless they are still alive—because they are long gone dead.
You could also cross over into other genres. This is what I call the ‘genre combo’. Examples: Historical romance, historical fantasy or historical mystery. It seems that if you have written a beautiful book that fits into either of these genre combos, you have a strong chance of getting a literary agent or editor in your first round of submissions. But what about a historical suspense or a historical thriller?
Well, the popular genre combos, historical romance, historical fantasy and historical mystery have been proven time and time again to be successful. For this reason, literary experts have ignored the possibility of a best-selling historical suspense or thriller. There are many famous historical romance authors out there, so many that literary experts now play it safe, preferring a genre crossover only if it crosses over into romance or fantasy.
So where does that leave the author of historical suspense? In my frank opinion, no author of the less acquired genre combos should be ignored. If you are intending to write a historical suspense or thriller, than do so by all means and don’t worry about category restrictions. There may not be a whole lot of publishers who are willing to take a chance on something completely different from an unknown writer, but there are the exceptional few who are willing to take these kinds of risks. It all depends on timing and on you, the author.
To enhance your book’s chance of becoming a best-seller, you must write a compelling and engaging story with vivacious characters and a heart-stopping plot. Additionally, the writing itself must be superb. Once you have finished your book, it’s never a bad idea to have a friend, a family member, anyone who can give you honest, comprehensive feedback, read your work. When this is all accomplished and you feel confident in your work, it’s time to get it out there.
If you receive a pile of rejections, don’t panic. Just because you have written a book that is truly unique and different from everything else in the market that does not mean it won’t be successful. There is a place for genre combos (referring to historical suspense and historical thriller) on the bookshelf in all of the major book stores.