Hi My Name is Book and I'm an ....

In defining genre in my query letter, would it make any sense to refer to the work as 'character-driven'. If it wouldn't count against me, I'd prefer to do that rather than call it 'literary fiction' as I feel that would imply a value judgement which I'd prefer to leave to others. The only other possible category I can see that might fit would be offbeat/quirky, but I feel its aspect of 'character-driven'-ness is more important - and thus more representative as a term, and I don't see how 'literary fiction' would be any more informative to the reader of the query. I suppose I could say 'offbeat, character-driven'.

Literary fiction is used to describe where something is shelved in a bookstore. You may describe your book as character driven as soon as you send me a .jpg of a section called 'character driven' in a bookstore. Any bookstore. Anywhere.

There's no way you can persuade me something is character driven in a query letter and three pages. It cannot be done.

Don't worry about telling me what it is beyond where it would be found in a bookstore. People who say "it's romance AND true crime" are nitwits. The only thing worse is "true crime AND pet care". KY is having palpitations just hearing me spell check that.

Write well. Call it a novel.


Anonymous said...

What about something that's literary fiction AND commercial fiction.......

or does literary fiction sometimes just get lucky?

Chumplet said...

I dunno - I'm calling mine contemporary romance with a sports angle and an element of intrigue. Is that a nitwit move?

The Unpretentious Writer said...

As far as I'm concerned, and this is a terribly obtuse, self-centered view (I work in a large bookstore); all that matters is where it's shelved.

If it isn't true, there's no 'formula' murder, and it's not written for cheap arousal or taking place in a reality not more-or-less like ours, it's Fiction. Anything else is Mystery, Romance, or SF/F. If it's true, it's Non-Fiction depending on the subject matter.

Agents and publishers might want fancy genre discriptions before they'll look at it, but the money's really being made depending on where it ends up in the store. New release Romance, for example, isn't as "promo'ed" as heavily as new release Fiction.

jude calvert-toulmin said...

> People who say "it's romance AND true crime" are nitwits.

(Sricks hand up and waves it around.) Miss! Miss! Yeah-but-no-but you said that fusion stuff is hot atm, like chick lit with magic in it (a vom-inducing thought if ever there was one.)

My novel could be classified as literary fiction or women's fiction, although from the feedback I'm getting from my beta readers I think I'm going to have to plump for the former. A bit of a conundrum really.

p.s thanks again for all the hard work you're putting into this, it's much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

miss snark said "Write well. Call it a novel." Does that mean I don't have to state a genre on my query letter, or is it important that i do state a genre?