I’m having an identity crisis.
I’ve been reading My Temporary Life by Martin Crosbie. On Amazon, I was surprised to see that it’s listed as a romantic suspense novel. If I twist my brain around enough, I can see that it could potentially be a romance, but from what I’ve read, I’d place Mr. Crosbie’s book in the mainstream/literary fiction genre, not romance. So far, it reads more like a well-written coming-of-age story.
But back to me. After thinking about it for a good while, I pinged some of my friends, ones who’ve read An Untold Want, and asked if it should be classified as a romance. Every one of them came back with a yes.
So now I’m having an identity crisis. [If you didn’t notice the large text / question marks in the photo, it reads I write romance? Really?] I don’t read romance novels. I’m not saying they’re bad or lesser. I’m just saying that they’re not my book of choice. So how is it possible that I wrote a romance novel?
After a bit of soul-searching, I went out to the Romance Writers of America [RWA] web site, and read up on what makes a novel a romance.
For a novel to be considered a romance, there are two requirements. There must be:
1) A Central Love Story
This means that the main plot involves two individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. I went back and asked my friends, and they indicated that, in their opinion, the relationship between Maggie and JD is the main plot. For me the romance drives the plot, but I feel like the plot centers on her self acceptance and that JD is the transport mechanism, the primary person who helps make it happen. Everyone else sees the self acceptance as a nice side effect of working out the relationship.
2) An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending
Okay. An Untold Want does fit that requirement. It almost didn’t, but — and maybe this is the point where I went off the Women’s Fiction rails and headed down the Romance track — I wanted to tie it up nicely. I wanted Maggie to be happy, to have that optimistic ending. After such as struggle, I wanted her to find the place where she belongs, where she feels safe and comfortable. Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part, that if I can’t have it at least she can. I wanted Maggie to be different, to be not me. To end up better off than I did.
I’m sure that I’ll force myself through some flaming mental hoops before it happens, but I’m positive that sometime in the not too distant future, I’ll be changing the genre on An Untold Want. It’s not a difficult process, at least not technically. And a move like this will potentially open my writing up to a whole new group of readers.
But first, I need to convince myself that I wrote a romance novel.
4 thoughts on “Dear Gen(re) Letter”
I’ll be interested in the outcome of your genre swap, because I’m going in the opposite direction with mine. I don’t read romance novels, either, and my novel crosses a half-dozen genre lines (including sensitive psychological issues and social controversy), but because it fulfilled those two RWA requirements, that’s the BISAC I went with when I published, more than a year ago. As a romance, it made it to a couple of dozen TBR lists, and more than 60 sample downloads, but nobody’s buying. So, because the romance is just one of a bunch of hats the story wears, the reissue will be Fiction/Contemporary Women.
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The crazy thing is that people like Donald Maass are preaching the gospel of cross-genre, but to be honest, I think books like ours, books that don’t fit “a” genre are a hard sell. I don’t see my book as romance, but I’m going to try it out to see if I can generate more sales. I’ll be posting more about it as it happens. So no worries there, but I’d like to hear your experiences with crossing in the other direction. I hope you’ll write about it.
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I think Maass is on the right track, as far as the true nature of our Art is concerned, and I wouldn’t mind paying his agency’s commission for help with tweaking my novel and shopping it to successful publication where the readers are buying. But despite his encouraging words about cross-genre fiction in interviews and the books he’s written, I suspect that what I’ve written may be too far ahead of its time, even for him.
Life is complex, and there’s no reason why Art should be any different, but with the better part of the last century co-opted by the dumb-it-down-to-a-genre school of publishing thought, even a lot of readers have been sold on what the gatekeepers think they “should” be buying. Perhaps by our trading places in our virtual book stalls, we can find homes for our “hard sell” stories.
BTW, you can fix those little zits that pop out after “Enter,” from your Dashboard: Click on “Comments,” and then hover in the space just beneath the entry that wants fixing. Another menu will appear; choose “Edit,” fix the glitch, and then hit the “Update” button to the right.
Totally agree about Maass, and that his vision (or at least that’s where I first heard about cross-genre being the new black) is the way books should be written. But, and this is my opinion, agents and publishers have a hard time putting cross-genre books in “the box”. And the dumb-it-down, sadly, isn’t just in the publishing world. We are doing that everywhere. The fact that books should not only entertain, but also make people think has been forgotten. At least in the US, we’re more concerned about image than what’s behind the image. [Sorry. Stepping down off my soapbox.]
I’ve never liked being normal. So I guess it’s common sense that my stories wouldn’t fit into any one box.
And thank you for the info on editing the replies. I’m still need to WP, learning my way around.