Monday, December 15, 2008

Contemporary Fiction & Semantics

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books & Dear Author run an occasional 'Save Contemporary!' campaign whenever they come across a title they particularly love. At the moment, it's this one by Victoria Dahl. Apprentice Writer thought the sprout was clever and the book cover attractive - so here it is. Maybe she'll even get around to reading it.

But here is her question:

Can somebody explain the politics of labelling commercial fiction?

For this reader, confusion abounds.

- Chicklit, as a category, is reportedly dead. Apparently, no agent wants to represent it, no publisher wants to buy it.

- Does this mean there will be floods of 'humorous women's fiction' on the market? Consider: during a recent drop-off of non-keeper books at the used book store, AW was informed that chicklit wasn't moving, so the usual practice of 10% credit against printed retail price didn't apply. The UBS owner was unmoved by AW pointing out the 'Women's Fiction' label on spines in question; in her eyes it all came under the unprofitable chicklit umbrella.

-Does this in turn mean there will be floods of chicklit and women's fiction 'light' writers who will now label their work simply as 'contemporary'? Will new employment opportunities be created for page-count police, who confer security clearance of legitimate vs. fake contemporary writers according to how soon in the story the love interests meet, and what proportion of total word count is devoted to h/h interactions and love scenes?

Just asking.


Wylie Kinson said...

Good questions, all. Let me know if you figure it out ;)

Julia Smith said...

These are the things about the business side of the arts that make me roll my eyes till they're in the back of my head. My cousin's historical romances were set in Victorian London, but somehow marketed as Regency...?!?

Christine d'Abo said...

This business continues to confuse me. Someday I'll get it figured out, and then all the "rules" will change.

I also wanted to pop over and wish you a happy holiday!!


M. said...

Wylie, Julia, Christine -

I have to figure this out p.d.q. because I'm on the verge of sending out and don't want my submission to be dumped before it's read because I used the 'wrong' label!

Christine, nice to see you again! Happy holidays to you to.