I have written a novel and I am having trouble determining genre. It’s a romance for sure. It has suspense for sure. But it also has ghosts. No other paranormal elements- just ghosts. It doesn’t have that goth somber flavor. Is paranormal romantic suspense a genre? If so can it be paranormal when the only thing supernatural is ghosts?
So let’s talk about genre. Genre means “kind,” so when you’re deciding on what kind of book you’re selling (not writing), all you’re doing is slapping a label on it.
Why do you need to label it? Well, while you’re writing it, you don’t, you just write the story that you need to tell. But when you take the story to market, your story needs a label the same way cans of soup need a label: so people know if they want to buy it. Getting people to buy things is called marketing, and your publisher will have an entire department of people to do that. First of course you have to get it to an editor, and you can say in your cover letter that this is a paranormal romance or whatever, but I’d stick with “novel” and then do that paragraph/blurb that describes the book in such a way that she’ll want to buy it.
Why not specify a genre? Because it limits you. True story: My agent Meg once repped this wonderful romance about a woman who meets the love of her life while swept up in a mystery. She sent it to an editor she thought would love it, but she did not say, “This is a terrific romance.” Which was good because the editor called her and said, “We love this mystery!” and Meg said, “We do, too!” and the author is now a multiple Edgar winner. Let the people who are going to sell it decide what to call it. They’re good at that.
If you’re going to self-publish or you feel you must specify a genre, make it as vague as possible. So I’d say your book is a romance. Romance is always a good label, the stuff sells steadily no matter what. Paranormal is evidently on the way out and suspense seems to be weakening, too. but romance? Never going away. Every descriptor you add after that is a reason for somebody to reject it. (ETA: If you’re selling online, you can add tags for other genres, but unless those other genres are primary, don’t use them as the major descriptive category.)