What IS this?

It was easier when I wrote smut. But lately, after a few decades of successful pornography, my characters seem to want to find something to do with their clothes on.

This is fine. Being surprised by my characters is the fun part. But I believe trying to pitch a story that doesn't fit neatly into a genre category might be a problem. Or is it?

When pitching work that doesn't fit into genre categories, is it better to invent an intriguing-sounding yet accurate genre moniker, or to pick some standard genres that are sort of almost kind of close, or to skip it altogether? What if I can suggest the audiences I think will be interested in the story -- which I think is the point of a genre ID, yes? -- without tagging by genre?

Or clue-gun me if I am getting spun up unnecessarily. Or unspin me. Please?

(Meta: It was difficult to obey your command to leave off the compliments, but I complied. It was much less difficult to obey your command to search for your previous answers to this question, of which I found none.)

Maybe the post labels will help people find things. Dog knows those cute clever funny and downright obscure joke titles have not been much use!

Don't worry about what to call your work. Pick from: literary fiction, commercial fiction or one of the genres: mystery, western, romance, sf, fantasy.

Don't waste a lot of time telling me what your work is. Show me. Concentrate on your writing and your voice. You write something so compelling that I have to read on and even if you call it codswallop in space, I'll read it and want to sell it.

For dog's sake don't start inventing things and don't use more than two words. Romantic western with overtones of regency fantasy pretty much announce you as an nitwit. This is not a good way to persuade me you've read much in your area.

I have to always remind myself to ignore "category" when I read a cover letter. Chances are 1:10 you've got the wrong one anyway.


Ryan Field said...

I once read a fantastic line on an agency web site: "We always look for commercial fiction that rides the thin line of literary." I think that could apply to many books. There was a discussion on a blog a while back where some thought Anne Tyler was chick lit, while some thought she was commercial and others argued she was literary. We tend to make it simple and compact, but it's all about semantics and semiotics and communication. Plus writing well.

Maggie said...

I would so read Codswallop In Space.

Cynthia Bronco said...

I'd stick with either commercial fiction or literary fiction. Or "novel."

Mazement said...

I'm not quite sure I understand the question. Is this non-pornographic pornography in search of a genre?

I remember that the late Kilgore Trout made a career out of writing non-pornographic short stories as filler for otherwise-pornographic magazines. But that was a long time ago, and I'm not sure what the market's like nowadays...