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Thursday, September 12, 2013

You Say Tomato

It's a fun thing anymore, cruising through the lower reaches of the publishing world where I (and many of you) reside. Ok, "fun" is probably not the word I'm seeking. "Interesting" perhaps or at the very least "fascinating."

Oh all right: "frustrating the the point of brick-wall-head-bashing."


Between all the advice blogs, review sites with their own agendas, kindly relatives asking "so, how much of the $17.50 that you got from one of your publishers last month will you put in your 401K, Liz?" and random assorted others who snicker behind their hands in a smarty-pants college town like mine about "sex books" (including a book store owner who pretty much told me to my face she would never support "E.L. James books.") it is hard to know what to think about the validity of what we do.

But I'm not here to complain (much).

I'm here to talk genres. You know, "categories of fiction" that encompass everything from "sweet romance" to "splatter horror" and everything in between, which, believe it or not would include books considered "mainstream fiction" to many.

I am sort of confused by the whole "New Adult" thing. Many people consider it a way to ease younger readers into erotic fiction. I have no problem with that. God knows I read Valley of the Dolls when I was fifteen, twice. And frankly, the addition of this "new genre" (which to me feels more "sub-genre-ish" than anything) has only muddied the already roiling waters.

What is chick (or as I've seen it lately which bring to mind a certain brand of jeans to those of us of a certain age) "chic" lit anyway?

How does that differ from "women's fiction?"

And how is all of that really that different from the softer core erotic books that have done their coat-tailing thing to That Book I Refuse To Name up to the top of all the best seller lists?

I will be the first to admit I consider myself more of a mainstream reader. And most if not all of my books contain a bit too much "real life" to them (including female protags that you really would befriend, even though you'd like to smack her upside her fool head more than once during your friendship and male protags that sometimes make you really really angry) to find much of a foothold in romance. Which is odd, I know, as this is a romance blog, in name but I consider it one of the few that is also very much a blog for writers to discuss the ins and outs of their business.

The formulas that many hard core romance publishers use have stood them in good stead for years, making money for many authors and executives alike. Many readers seek out that predictability including the happy ending and, like any smart business owner, the Harlequins and to some extent the Ellora's Caves of the world make a product to suit their customers. No brainer and more power to them all.

But the oozing over into mainstream thing that has been happening for the last couple of years (again, thanks to That Set of Books) of flat out, formula-style erotic fiction has confused everyone, including the big shots in New York.

I bring this up for a reason. You see, I am pondering a shift change for 2014 but it has gotten me really thinking about my back list. I have something like 20 books published, all of which have been released and marketed as "erotic romance."  But, I am thinking I may repackage myself and the books a little differently as I work on 3 new projects simultaneously. As part of this, I am in the process of doing a hard re-edit on everything I've released with one of my publishers, preparing some of them for "anthologizing" and audio recordings. Of course I have no plans to change anything significant about any of the plots or characters. Just doing a bit of cleaning up where it is needed.

Taking care of the Liz Brand as it were, seeking some different sorts of platforms for publicity and promotion and encouraging everyone to consider what I write in a whole new category: Relationship Fiction.

I wrote about this in the latest issue of BTSemag (page 30) and plan to do some research into "genre-izing" of modern fiction in order to speak on it in a slightly more coherent way in a few other arenas. I want to explore what you and I and all the other good readers out there might be missing out on because of our pre-conceived notions about genres we will and will not consider as good use for our disposable incomes.

God, would my English Lit undergrad adviser (an AMAZING woman named Lucy Frieberger, a former nun and killer short story writer in her own right) be proud of me...all this "compare and contrast!"

In the meantime, I would love to know your take on this. Do you want to know if something is, at its core, about a relationship between a couple of people? Because so many books are, no matter what genre they purport to be.  I mean, of course you gotta know if it's "horror" or "mystery" or whatever but otherwise, what does it matter?

And as a good example of my own efforts at relationship fiction the Black Jack Gentlemen series will release its 3rd book in a few days. To celebrate I'm offering the opportunity for you to win all 3 of the books in ebook or print AND a free download of Floor Time on Just 3 more days to win! over at the brewingpassion blog right now.

cheers and happy writing/reading
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Janice Seagraves said...

Hi Liz,

Yeah, I think my family (read in-laws) have done their fair share of snickering behind my back.

Oh, well, their loss if they don't read what I spent so much time writing.

Good luck with your newest project.


Rose Anderson said...

Great post! And oh so true.

Sandy said...

My husband keeps telling me I'm wasting my time because everyone is writing these days.

One moment he's telling me my publisher is making a lot more money off of me than I know, and then he tells me to self-publish. The man knows nothing about this industry. lol

Nina Pierce said...

It's an odd business this writing gig. People always want to define and quantify. It's the nature of being human.

But sometimes someone sings their own tune with an instrument no one ever considered using before.

Best of luck with the re-invent, I hope it goes well. We'll all be able to say ... hey, I knew the writer that started that genre!

Jane Leopold Quinn said...

I like the Relationship Fiction genre idea. But I'm in the happily ever after camp. I just cannot bear reading something that won't end happily, not in this day and age. I need it.

But a reinvention of self occasionally is a good plan.

Melissa Keir said...

I do think that we are all writing relationship fiction, whether the relationship is between man and a fish or between a man and his buds. It doesn't have to be a love romance but that's what I like...I will read horror romance, erotic romance, science fiction romance, basically any type of romance because I want to believe that there is a happily ever after, even if the characters have to work to get there... I want some reality, not just a rich millionaire who bosses me around. I want the ideal that there is someone who will love me and accept me, even if that is my dog. :)All the best!

Gemma Juliana said...

Hi Liz,

I'm as confused as you about some of the new genres. I suppose the only way to forge a better understanding is to read them... you sound busy with great plans to revamp and tweak for expanded markets. Good luck to you!

Cara Marsi said...

I'm one who needs a happily ever after. But like others have said, every story I read is about a relationship of some sort. My hat's off to you, Liz, for forging a new sub-genre. I'm with you all the way. Write what you want and what makes you happy, There is a backlash against traditional romance, believe it or not. I feel it all the time because that's what I read and write. I've stopped defending what I write. I love traditional romance, and I don't apologize.

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