Depending on who you ask, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is a nonfiction novel, a work of literary nonfiction, a form of narrative nonfiction, an example of creative nonfiction or, maybe, just straightup nonfiction (as Vintage published it). Though Capote’s literary technique didn’t make the publisher squeamish when it released the classic in 1965, the book might get slapped with an author’s note if it were published today.

With the debate over truth in memoir putting a spotlight on how nonfiction is produced, publishers are being more upfront about other subgenres within the category. And even though there are still only two options when it comes to labeling a work—fiction and nonfiction—the notes prove many see nonfiction existing on a spectrum.

In April, when Grove publishes Lieve Joris’s The Rebels’ Hour, readers will open the book to find both an author’s note and a publisher’s note. Released in Joris’s native Holland as literary nonfiction and then as fiction in France, the book, about a Congo rebel named Assani, is being published by Grove as nonfiction. As the house explains in its note, the work is best described as a subgenre not very popular in America, a form of “literary reportage.”

Because Joris did not have unfettered access to her subject, and because Assani and others she interviewed were not always straightforward, the book is prefaced with the vague description that it’s “based on real characters, situations and places, without ever coinciding with them completely.”

“We thought of the book as nonfiction when we bought it,” explained editor Lauren Wein. “Then when we learned that the French called it a novel, we thought, 'Huh, what is this?’ ” After talking it over with the author, Wein had Joris add an author’s note to the manuscript explaining her writing process. In the note, Joris says that all the facts in the book are true and “researched in minute detail,” but that she nonetheless had to “fill in some parts of her [subjects’] lives from my own imagination.” This was, Joris adds, “the only way to make the story both particular and general.”

Grove’s publisher’s note, added to the final edition, was not, Wein said, a reaction to recent events (e.g., Margaret Seltzer). “From the beginning, we tossed around the idea of adding a publisher’s note, and we went back and forth,” she said. “We only wanted to be totally transparent. We don’t have any qualms about how we’re publishing this book, but it took us a while to decide to do this.”

David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus Books Group, observed that unlike other formats, such as movies, “where there is a well-established contract of 'based on a true story,’ ” that concept doesn’t extend to publishing. Steinberger, who noted that it’s no secret fiction poses a bigger challenge in the market than nonfiction, said that he thinks it would be a positive change “for authors and publishers if there was more creative freedom to classify books in multiple ways.” That, of course, would be in addition to “a full disclosure of the approach being taken.”

Speaking to the public’s desire for true stories that read as smoothly as fiction, Sarah Gold, one of the nonfiction reviews editors at PW, noted that it’s telling how some works are received: “One of my bugaboos is that the highest praise for nonfiction these days is that it reads like a novel.”

David Lazar, editor of the new collection Truth in Nonfiction: Essays, said that although he doesn’t think nonfiction writers should take “great liberties” in their work, “most of what’s interesting in nonfiction is about interpretation.” Lazar also agrees that there needs to be an expansion of the standard genre categories, especially given what he sees as an influx of “hybrid works” entering the marketplace.

Biographer Nigel Hamilton, whose How to Do Biography: A Primer comes out next month, said the difficulty defining the splintered subcategories is long-running. “It’s gotten worse, actually. Our issue is that our categories aren’t open-ended enough to encompass the innovativeness going on,” he said. So what’s the answer? For Hamilton, readers need to get wise or publishers need to tag things differently. “I think we’ve either got to invent more terms to accommodate [what gets published] or educate ourselves to be a little more realistic in our expectations.”