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Either I figure out what genre I am, or the midget gets it.


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#1 misfitdevil99

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 03:05 PM

Like a lot of us, I'm really struggling with finding my book's genre. I've looked over the chart at bookcountry.com http://bookcountry.c...ap/Default.aspx but I can't seem to find a proper fit there.

 

From what i can tell through Writer's Digest University http://www.writerson...ies-and-genres/ my book is Mainstream Fiction to a T.  But then the chart at AgentQuery.com makes me think it's Commercial Fiction to a double T http://www.agentquer...scriptions.aspx This definition seriously describes my writing style perfectly. But.. i've read quite a bit labeling CF as a not entirely respected genre. Anyone know of any other sources to better help define one's genre? Or is my genre simply CF?

 

Ok, back to the noobecave i go..


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#2 Aaron Bradford Starr

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:50 PM

Your problem is actually with the way genre is used today.  Genre is a marketing tool as much as a writing tool, and thus it seeks to pigeonhole writing into offerings for certain demographics, and these are being sliced ever more thinly.  But as a writing tool, genre is far less restrictive.  As writers, we tell stories, and then someone else figures out who to market it to.  I wouldn't strain any muscles trying to wedge yourself into any shrinking genre box.  Find something that sounds close, and go with that.  The obsessing over genre that is so common on this and other sites seems unhealthy to me.

 

Genre serve like the hues of the art world.  They can be mixed and combined, but artists don't name every single possible color.  Marketing people try to do that.  Artists know how they like to mix colors, and what the chemistry is, but it's marketing to name the colors on the tubes at the store.

 

Remember, genre concepts are there to serve us as storytellers.  We do not serve them.  Oh, and never, ever, change your writing style to suit some list of genre conventions in an attempt to maximize your sales potential.  That's creative self-mutilation, plain and simple.



#3 misfitdevil99

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 08:33 PM

Hey thanks Aaron, what you say makes perfect sense. As far as i can tell, i'm Commercial Fiction for querying sake. I'm all for getting some writing done rather than stress over this any further. Thanks for the pep talk my friend.


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#4 AQCrew

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 08:07 AM

Hi,

 

Sorry, it took us a while to find a midget who knew the answer:

 

 

 

So for the longest time -- there have been two camps in the publishing world:

 

The literary fiction, historical fiction, commercial fiction, women's fiction camp.

 

And the mainstream fiction, genre fiction, romance/thriller/mystery/sci-fi/fantasy camp.

 

Depending on which author, agent, editor with, you will likely find one camp sneering at the other.

 

It's silly and juvenile, but there you have it.

 

You will not find an agent who says that they want to represent say...genre fiction as well as commercial fiction.  And if you do -- in our experience-- they are new and misusing the term "commercial fiction".  And in fact, it is the same reason why many agents that rep literary and commercial fiction also go on to quality that they do NOT represent genre fiction like romance, fantasy, mystery, etc.

 

Commercial fiction sprang out of literary fiction or historical fiction that gained popularity (many times because it got turned into a movie) because it had more plot than most literary fiction, and suddenly became "mainstream" -- both in popularity and earnings potential.  Slowly, a new genre of fiction developed that had literary prose but also a well-paced plot and actually sold -- in big numbers.  You couldn't call it literary fiction because it wasn't literary fiction exactly -- it was more commercial.  But it certainly wasn't genre fiction either.

 

Women's fiction sprang out of commercial fiction when the marketers realized that women were a huge portion of the fiction reading population, and they started pushing books with "elevated" writing that had a well-paced plot AND a female main character and a female sensibility.

 

But technically, these genres were never considered "mainstream fiction" because genre writers and genre agents had long used that the term "mainstream fiction" to describe their camp, which includes your well-defined, formulatic genre fiction categories like romance, thriller, mystery, fantasy, etc. and which do not place the eminent quality of its prose as a measure of its worth. 

 
And we would like to say that The Midget completely disagrees with the Writers Digest's explanation of literary fiction vs. commercial  as well as their explanation of mainstream fiction.  They've got it backwards, and that's not helpful, but also not surprising.  And John Updike and Joyce Carol Oats are solidly in the literary fiction camp.  They just happen to be well-known.
 
The bottom-line: If you say that you write commercial fiction, you are no longer part of the genre fiction camp.  You need to know this and be aware of this when you are networking with aspiring writers/published authors as well as querying agents because they will expect the quality of your prose and the overall concept of your book to match a more "literary" style.  But they will also expect it to be popular in terms of sales numbers.


#5 Warrior

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 10:28 AM

Very interesting AQCrew. Thanks for the info.


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#6 misfitdevil99

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 06:28 PM

Thanks so much for that info AQCrew. You've sincerely cleared up quite a bit of confusion for me. Everyone that's read/critiqued my story are the ones telling me it's a definite work of commercial fiction. Due to all the factors you mention. Which i at first thought was a fantastic compliment. But then i read quite a few articles from what you've now shown me is the otherside of the camp, and started feeling not so complimented. I'm now confident my story is just that, commercial fiction. It fits the definition to a T. So thank you once again. Back to writing i go.

 

p.s. Said midget has officially been welcomed back in off the plank. :)


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#7 Summer

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 05:21 PM

Glad you figured out your genre! It's weird. Stories used to be stories. Now they have even more genres than ever, but I guess it's necesssary. Wish you all the best!


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#8 misfitdevil99

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:14 PM

Hey thanks Summer. I still wish i could narrow it down a bit more.. But if i land an agent perhaps they will, or won't. Good luck to you as well. :)


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#9 jess.foster

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 06:07 AM

Also, I've heard of agents changing a genre before they send stuff off to editors. So if there is a genre that it fits in better, you can be sure it will find its right place eventually. The key is picking one that is as close as you can get to it. I can't imagine that agents are going to be that nitpicky. I mean if you're writing a sci-fi, there better be science stuff in it, or if you say it's a mystery there better be a mystery in it. I'm sure agents wouldn't be too happy if you query a contemp YA and on page 33 there are dragons. But other than that, go with your gut.



#10 misfitdevil99

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 07:31 PM

Totally agreed Jess. Thanks. :)


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