So I have this novel I’m writing. And as I post bits and chunks in various places for critiques and comments, I’m invariably required to give it a genre. Easy, right?
Unsurprisingly, my book reflects me in that it’s a mix of a lot of genres. My iPod, for example, contains an equal amount of songs by Josh Groban and Slipknot. While I love dark indie movies like Blue Valentine, I (embarrassingly enough) enjoy watching Family Guy.
And so it is with my novel. There are times when it approaches literary fiction levels, but other times when it’s not-so-literarily amusing. It focuses on character development, but that can’t exist in a void without a gripping plot (I like to think it’s gripping). The main character is female, but it’s a dark tale so it’s not chick lit. It revolves around a love story, but the ending isn’t the happiest for everyone so it’s not a romance (romances have to have happily-ever-after endings. Blech). It’s not going to appeal to everyone (so far atheists, Serbians, well-adjusted women, and most men aren’t fond of it), so it’s not really commercial fiction.
I won a review of the first page this week, and the editor (who’s a paranormal/fantasy person) said,
I am not sure the genre here yet either. I wouldn’t say chick lit, because it doesn’t have the voice. Nor would I say literary fiction. If I had to guess, I’d go for Women’s Fiction, as I think that this opening page would most grab the interests of that audience. The writing seems polished on the whole and the style is easily accessible, making this a read that anyone can follow along with.
I’ve been researching agents and queries and all that fun stuff, and the trend now seems to be “upmarket women’s fiction,” which is Jodi Picoult and trade paperbacks and issue-centered stories and not necessarily happy endings, with bits of writing that are so poignant that you copy them down and stick them as statuses on Facebook. I think I’m pretty close to most of that.
But like Fight Club, you can’t talk about your book as upmarket; that’s only a marketing term that others in the publishing/marketing world can apply.
So, where does that leave my novel? I guess it’s women’s fiction, but even if you’re a guy, or a Serbian, or an atheist, you should give it a chance.