Genre Equality

word cloudIn NewsBites on Wednesday, one of the stories was about a petition to address gender labeling in books for children. The argument is that publishers should not assume that boys want one type of book and girls, another.

But of course, identifying the target market is a long-standing tradition in the publishing biz. The idea is to facilitate sales by helping consumers narrow the field to books which appeal to their particular areas of interest. As data collection and analysis have become more sophisticated, the numbers of genres and sub-genres have multiplied. Continue reading “Genre Equality”

The Historical with Romantic Elements

Guest post
by Frances Burke

I love ‘Historicals’, but in recent times this category has become divided into sub-genres, with the emphasis almost totally upon the emotional conflict. The old Historical Novel wasn’t intended to be a Romance, as such, but a novel set in a historical time frame with Romance as one, sometimes major element.

Today the term covers everything from erotica to sweet Regency, with some historical data thrown in. (Apologies to those writers who do their research, although still allowing the love story to overwhelm other aspects.)

I am proposing another, more specific category: “The Historical With Romantic Elements”. It would cover many genres – adventure, thriller, fantasy, paranormal, you name it. It would follow no pattern but the one in the writer’s mind, allowing her to bend rules and take flights of fancy, use any time frame and as many major characters as were consistent with the length of the novel and common sense. And the romantic element might be relatively small, or even relegated to a sub-plot.

A Historical With Romantic Elements (herein to be known as HWRE) would be distinct from Historical Romance and Historical Saga in that it tended to concentrate heavily on research, with the setting detailed and imprinted with colour and texture. Background would be all-important, with bonus points for an unusual setting. Georgian and Tudor times, for instance, are so well documented and used that research almost falls into the lap. With many other periods, it takes hard work to understand the intricacies of politics, wars and social upheavals and to weave these into a story without overloading the reader with detail. Continue reading “The Historical with Romantic Elements”

Genre Snobbery

Approximately nine years ago, after sending a manuscript to just about every mainstream publisher, I was eventually told that the only way I would find the right publisher and actually have my work looked at seriously was to present my material through a literary agent. I then went about systematically, submitting the manuscript to every single literary agent I could find. Take into account that this was at a time when everything had to be submitted in hard copy and very few agents could be located through the internet; it is enough to say that it was not an inexpensive exercise. Continue reading “Genre Snobbery”

The Title Will Tell

Long before the prevalence of internet keywords to help people narrow down a search, the concept applied to book titles. To be more accurate, it applied to books in popular fiction. Literary fiction has its own thing going. You pretty much know if you see a book with a title like As Grow the Wild Tulips, or A Garden in Antioch, you’re probably looking at literary fiction.

With popular fiction, the keywords become genre-specific. You can be pretty sure if you see words like heart, song, secret, or forever that the book is a romance novel. As with all rules, there are exceptions. Other keywords also play a role, so Cannibal Heart might not necessarily be a romance. Neither is this short list all-inclusive. I’m sure there are romance titles that don’t include any of the keywords I mentioned, but those words are strongly representative and indicative of the romance genre. Continue reading “The Title Will Tell”