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Urban fantasy: what does it mean?

One of the most confusing genre definitions I’ve come across in book publishing is “urban fantasy”. 

While doing my research on Wikipedia, Reedsy and Goodreads, urban fantasy seems to mean a realistic setting with fantasy elements. 

However, when reading an article by a publishing Art Director, it became clear to me that their definition of urban fantasy was that it was a romance genre exclusively. 

Thoroughly confused, I asked for clarification. It turns out they use BISAC codes as their definition of genres. So while Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere would be classified as Urban Fantasy on Goodreads, it’s classified as Speculative Fiction or Literary Fantasy by BISAC codes.

Thinking that this might be an author vs. artist thing, I asked a group of authors what their definition of Urban Fantasy was. It was overwhelmingly (102 to 0) defined as “real world with fantasy elements”. No one thought it was a romantic genre.

What does this mean? To me, it means I need to make sure the person I’m working with has the same definition of Urban Fantasy that I do. But I’m now acutely aware of the fact that that definition might be very different depending on whether I’m talking to a self-publishing author or someone in traditional publishing.

Any more insights on this? Let me know!

Urban fantasy: what does it mean?

One of the most confusing genre definitions I’ve come across in book publishing is “urban fantasy”. 

While doing my research on Wikipedia, Reedsy and Goodreads, urban fantasy seems to mean a realistic setting with fantasy elements. 

However, when reading an article by a publishing Art Director, it became clear to me that their definition of urban fantasy was that it was a romance genre exclusively. 

Thoroughly confused, I asked for clarification. It turns out they use BISAC codes as their definition of genres. So while Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere would be classified as Urban Fantasy on Goodreads, it’s classified as Speculative Fiction or Literary Fantasy by BISAC codes.

Thinking that this might be an author vs. artist thing, I asked a group of authors what their definition of Urban Fantasy was. It was overwhelmingly (102 to 0) defined as “real world with fantasy elements”. No one thought it was a romantic genre.

What does this mean? To me, it means I need to make sure the person I’m working with has the same definition of Urban Fantasy that I do. But I’m now acutely aware of the fact that that definition might be very different depending on whether I’m talking to a self-publishing author or someone in traditional publishing.

Any more insights on this? Let me know!

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