Friday, October 26, 2007

Do We Need a New Category for Non-Genre Fiction?

I wish I could figure out some way make new readers who'd be interested in Stewards of the Flame aware of its existence! It will have reviews; though print publications won't review any books they have not received at least three months prior to publication, I have sent review copies to a number of Web review sites. The difficulty is that such sites group everything by genre, and there is no place they can put this book except under science fiction. I fear that most of the readers apt to like the book never browse the science fiction section. So they won't discover it. There are already several nice reader reviews at Amazon, but these won't be seen except by people who specifically search for the book, or for my name. I've been unable to come up with a solution to this problem. It's inherent in the "genre" system, which I have always felt put needless barriers between readers and books they would enjoy.

There are a lot of people who care about the issues this book deals with -- society's medical policy, government interference with free choice, mind-body healing, peaceful dying, personal liberty, the untapped power of the human mind -- but how can I publicize it to them? it's unlikely that many have come across this blog. It is often said that blogging is democratic because it gives anybody who wants to communicate to the public a platform to do so, but as a practical matter, there are millions of blogs and it would be impossible for many of them to attract significant numbers of readers. There aren't enough hours in the day for a person to read more than a fraction of the blogs that he or she might find interesting.

As for paid advertising, that has to be targeted, which I suppose is why publishers issue books by genre in the first place. In short, it is not surprising that books that don't fit neatly into genres aren't wanted by publishers. There would be no way a publisher could reach the prospective readers of such a book, any more than an individual author can. But it's frustrating.

As a reader as well as a writer, I feel a need for a venue through which books that fall outside standard genre classification could be made visible. Do we need a category of non-genre books? It is not quite the same thing as "mainstream," which has come to imply contemporary fiction and would generally be assumed to exclude novels about the distant future. Yet surely there must be some fiction that like mine, just can't be given any label that would enable its largest potential audience to locate it.

1 comment:

Sun Singer said...

Publishers, authors, readers and booksellers have become addicted to the notion of genre.

How lazy and how expedient that is.

As you suggest, "mainstrean" doesn't fit a lot of books; neither does "Literary Fiction."

So, non-genre books are often left in limbo. Best of luck with your book in the limbo of a non-genre release.

Malcolm