The Genre Box

My last post about my recent rejection from a literary agent had me a bit dismayed.  Not severely.  I mean I’m not ready to hang up my keyboard and forget this whole writing thing.  Not even close.  But I think I figured out why this agent could like what I wrote but not be able to work with it.  And… my realization still leaves me rather vexed.  Let me break it down for you.

So, in my limited experience, literary agents only want to read works that fit their genre.  And that’s fine.  They can read whatever they wanna read.  They can represent whatever they wanna represent.  But personally, I have found that I have never been able to classify my work that way.  I can’t come out and say, “I write erotica,” because that wouldn’t be true.  My writing has lots of erotic elements, but it doesn’t stop there.  I’m not a one trick pony.  Some of my works would fit in women’s lit, historical, romance, urban (I hate that designation); but you see what I’m getting at.  My work can’t fit perfectly into any one genre.

Then, that got me thinking.  Hmmm.  So… so far, every agent and publisher who would even accept and unsolicited manuscript, have tucked themselves neatly into a little box.  A box of romance or mystery or sci-fi or horror, but a box nonetheless.  And these boxes have rules, criteria or a formula that a piece must follow, if they are going to get a second look.  So if you write something, no matter how magnificent it may be, if it does not fit in the box they are hiding in, you will be soundly rejected.  That pisses me off.

No.  This is not sour grapes or being a sore loser.  People lose every day; I’m part of people and I’m used to it.  But I’m pissed off because it means that no one is willing to take a risk.  No one is willing to say, this isn’t what I am programmed to read and pass forward, but it’s worth seeing how far it may go.  And I’m not just talking about what I’m writing, but anyone whose work doesn’t fit into the cookie cutters of traditional publishing.  Not guts, no glory.  No risk, no reward.  Those catch phrases don’t just apply to football or rugby.  They apply to all facets of life.

Instead of classifying my work under any specific genre, I will begin by saying that it falls under literary fiction.  I’m sure that may become more specific, as time progresses, but that is where I’d place it for now.  With this in mind, not only will I continue to move towards self-publishing but I will also continue to look for those agents and/or publishers who may take an interest in a story that does not stay within the lines.

 

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories.

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2 thoughts on “The Genre Box

  1. It all comes down to “profit”. They won’t take a risk on anything that may break even or gain anything under 20% profit. The greed of the established, is the downfall of the unpublished. They’ll reject you left and right, and then some one person, company, will accept you and you become a best seller. Then those who rejeted you, will feel stupid enough to say something like, “Let’s see if her next work will do just as well.” When it does, they’ll be annoyed, and be conflicted with wishing for you to fail so they don’t feel like the kicked-shit they are, and wishing they offer you something to get you on their side. At the end of the day, a great business person is nothing less than a 15 to 19 year old with tons of money, ruled by surface emotions and deep shame, and fear of public embarrassment. You will succeed and you will show them, that boxes not only keep you with what you know, but keep you from knowing anything new. Any writer out there needs to know this. YOU, have a place in this world as a writer. NEW, OLD, UNSURE, ARROGANT, you have a place, a voice, a style, and part of you that must see the light of change, and acceptance. Thank you for reading.

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