Today I would like to welcome author, Rebecca Sherwin!
I contacted Reading Between the Wines back in October about an author spotlight. I’m so grateful, and would like to say a quick thank you to Crystal for having me over. I was surprised and completely caught off guard when she suggested writing a guest post – I can write fiction until it comes out of my ears, but being given freedom to write an article on whatever I wanted frightened me a little. I had absolutely no idea what to write about; I have already been spotlighted, you can find the links and information in the post, so what I wanted to do was write about something different. Writing about myself constantly bores me, so it must bore others to read it!
What I have decided to write about is the categorisation of novels. Genres.
In the traditional publishing world, the lines are pretty clean cut. You find a literary agent (or at least you do here in the UK), you send the agent a synopsis and the first three chapters of your pride and joy. After a wait of up to (and beyond) 8 weeks, they get back to you, either telling you it is not to their taste, although they recommend you contact other agencies because they may feel differently (your book has now been added to their slush pile) or they tell you they are interested in the concept of your story and the style of your writing and ask for the entire manuscript. If they love your book, they may choose to take you on and try to sell the rights for your story to publishers, usually agreeing on a 70/30 ratio on royalties. The freedom stops there. From that point onward, your story is in their hands. They find an editor, a proof-reader; they have the cover deigned and take care of the marketing of your book. And what genre and/or subgenres it falls into.
The world of indie publishing (a world I love being a part of) works completely differently. The writer has total freedom, deciding on self-editing or hiring an editor, designing the cover or having someone design it for you. You spend months researching and procrastinating, bleeding onto the page in the form of plots, sub-plots, themes and twists to have a product in your hands at the end of it, its success in the world down to nobody but you.
That is where I believe categorising comes in. I struggled immensely to try and fit Second Chance Hero into one genre, and am now facing the same struggle with what I’m working on now.
I think it’s one of the most important decisions you make when self-publishing. I’ve spoken to many people who stick to reading books in one genre. ‘I only read erotica,’ or ‘I read erotic romance, but New Adult romance isn’t my thing.’
Aren’t they pretty much the same? I did a little research (in the form of Wikipedia, so I claim no merit for the definitions and/or quotes) on the four different genres that I have heard of recently. Here are the definitions I found.
New Adult Romance
A developing genre with protagonists in the 18-25 age bracket. The term was first coined by St Martin’s Press when they decided they wanted ‘fiction similar to young adult that can be published and marketed as adult – an ‘older YA’ or ‘New adult’’
That confused me. If there is a Young Adult genre and an Adult Fiction genre, what exactly are the defining features of New Adult romance. Simple answer? The age of the characters. And the focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality and making career choices. But don’t people over 25 do that?
Stories written about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction. The sex is an inherent part of the story, character growth and couldn’t be removed without damaging the story line. Erotic romance usually contains content from a number of sub genres, e.g. paranormal, historical, chick lit. (cue the opening of a whole new can of worms). Erotic Romance is not to be confused with erotica, as the focus is often on the primary plot with the possibility of many sub-plots.
Sub-genre of romance novels and generally written from 1970 onwards. The genre has grown to have more complex plots and realistic characters. Over the last few years, the line between contemporary romance and women’s fiction has been blurred. Can 1970 really be considered as contemporary anymore, with the direction that women, and the books they read, have taken as recent as in the last few years?
Addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorous and lighthearted. Stories in this genre sometimes include romantic elements, although it is not considered a sub-genre of romance because the heroine’s relationship with her family and friends are equally important as her romantic involvement.
Has that confused you? It confused me!
I was hoping when researching for this post, that I would be able to clearly define the differences in genres and therefore establish exactly why some people will only read contemporary romance, and some will only read straight-up erotica, but what I’ve really done is make myself wonder all the more, why there aren’t clearer definitions.
I have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing writers in the last year or so, and a very good friend of mine had her debut novel categorised as erotic romance. Second Chance Hero has been categorised as New Adult romance. Both books are explicit, both books have young protagonists (in their mid-late twenties), so why the separate genre? The only difference I can think of is her book touches on a more taboo subject and is raw and controversial, whereas Second Chance Hero focuses on the importance of having family and friends around you, in a tight community. That shouldn’t reflect the genres.
It’s a concept I find difficult to understand.
If you are a writer and you have written a story about a 23 year old woman, back in the 1980s, who lives with a group of girlfriends, finds a man and has mind-blowing toe-curling sex, what genre are you supposed to put it in?
I guess, in short, what I’m trying to say is, try to be open-minded when it comes to the ‘type’ of books you read. You might think you will only enjoy reading erotic romance novels, or chick-lit, but the lines are so blurred that it’s hard to distinguish between the many, many genres and sub-genres out there.
As the age old saying goes, ‘never judge a book by its amazon genre categorisation.’
Rebecca is giving away a digital copy of her book, Second Chance Hero, to two readers today! To enter, just leave a comment on this post sharing your views of genre classification, and then fill out the rafflecopter below. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway