In last Sunday’s posting I asked questions about fiction genres and the state of publishing today. Two fellow bloggers, Perpetua from England and Kathy McCoy from the United Sates, provided answers to these questions. I want to share their informative responses with you because you may not have had the time to read all the comments for that posting.
To my question about the difference between commercial and literary fiction, Perpetua answered:
In my librarian days, literary fiction was serious and sometimes more difficult fiction which was normally printed and sold in small numbers, unless it won a book prize of some kind, when demand would rise.
Commercial fiction is basically popular fiction, often in genres such as crime, romance, thriller, which can almost be relied on to sell, often in large numbers. This doesn't mean it isn't well written, but it appeals to a mass-market in a way literary fiction doesn't.
In my response to her comment, I asked if there were subcategories of the genre “historical fiction.” Here is her reply:
Historical fiction is a very broad category, which can be subdivided into different types. There are historical mysteries (Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael novels spring to mind here or Lindsey Davis' Falco novels set in Imperial Rome) historical romances, such as Georgette Heyer's Regency novels (much loved by DH and me) or serious “literary” historical novels such as I, Claudius by the poet Robert Graves. I'm guessing there are probably historical thrillers too, but I can't call any to mind at the moment.
To my question about the state of publishing today, Kathy commented, as Perpetua did, from her own experience:
I understand your frustration, Dee! My agent has been schlepping Therapy Cats around to publishers for months now. A few have said "No" and more are just sitting there letting it grow roots on their desks. My agent said something about it was a shame that I hadn't published a completely new book in more than ten years so I would have a more recent, dynamic presence online. So frustrating!
So I finally decided to write some e-books inspired by my blog and see how that went—which is why I haven't been blogging for a month. In that time, I wrote Making Peace With Your Adult Children and Aging and Other Surprises. The latter makes heavy use of past blog posts and is a semi-memoir. I decided, just as a beginning, to get them converted to e-pub and professional covers done at Vook, which my agent recommended. Both are now on Amazon and other outlets as e-books and will soon be available as print on demand titles.
I got a call from PBS Next Avenue, an online Baby Boomers magazine, the other day and the writer said she had seen my Making Peace With Your Adult Children book on Amazon and wanted to interview me for an article that will feature a link to the book and my blog post. So I'm optimistic.
This has cut down on some of my frustration in waiting for someone to buy my Therapy Cats book. There is no longer a stigma attached to self-publishing/indy publishing and my agent was very much in favor of it. (It also keeps me out of his hair!) Have you thought of trying this with either of your book ideas, Dee? Some "indy" books have been picked up by traditional publishers later on.
I certainly don't have all the answers these days in the rapidly changing world of publishing, but I'm more hopeful now. Maybe this approach is something to consider. There are ways to do it without it costing a lot. Because I chose to have Vook do the ePub conversion and also design a deluxe cover, my books cost $600 to get up and running, but sales are starting to come in. But you can do a Kindle Direct book with a Smashwords or other print on demand book for very little upfront.
Dear Perpetua and Kathy, you’ve enlightened my understanding of publishing and offered me options. Thank you. Peace.
NOTE: I won’t be posting again until I have more news about my search for an agent.