1. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    I don't get how to classify genres! Help.

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by starseed, Jul 8, 2009.

    I have no idea what genre my book would fit into.

    I was looking through the writers market at all the listings for agencies, and
    none of them say they are looking for "general fiction" (what I had always been told my book was before), it's always very specific genres. Modern/Contemporary, Romance, etc.

    I don't get it! What makes something modern or contemporary? What makes something "Womens lit" ? ? ?

    My book is about a person trying to find himself. He goes to live in a hippy sort of commune with a group of other people. The story is told in modern voice/slang and has profanity and adult themes, as well as romance but is not one of those erotica or "genre romance" novels by any means. I don't get what to classify it as. My mom says it's modern contemporary because it's set in modern times, but I don't think she knows what she is talking about lol.

    The story has elements of everything, spirituality, travel, romance, experimentation with drugs, sex, grief and loss, coming of age/finding the self, letting go, etc. Is there a classification for this sort of book?
     
  2. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    It sounds like modern/contemporary to me too.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    If its written to entertain, label it just contemporary general fiction (Modern =/= Contemporary in literature, btw). If its written to inform/enlighten/be a great literary masterpiece, label it Literary Fiction. Then find an agent accordingly.
     
  4. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Wow.. er.. that's sorta hard. I mean.. I don't really have that separation in my mind. Everything I write would have some "enlightenment" to it, as I'm a naturally spiritual soul, that's just the way I see things. But.. it's not like.. written to be the next Celestine Prophecy or anything like that. So I guess while it does have a deeper meaning, it is just meant to be an enjoyable story, so that would be contemporary then.

    What exactly is modern contemporary? I read a few articles about it and it left me as confused as before. They made it sound like it meant writing in some weird "risky" style or something, like writing the whole book in second person or some other abstract viewpoint. I'm thinking contemporary general fiction sounds right. Which is good, because a lot of agents said they were looking for that. Thanks guys.
     
  5. SA Mitchell
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    SA Mitchell Member

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    Have you tried looking for definitions on Wikipedia and similar websites?
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Modern Contemporary is an oxymoron....'modern' ended 50 years ago. Post-modern ended 20ish years ago. Contemporary is now. The exact boundaries are obviously hard to define exactly, but its safe to say you can't write "modern" contemporary fiction.

    And contemporary means nothing except "now". And given the impossible variety of styles of writing, there is no defining characteristic of contemporary literature (in the same way that there is no defining aspect of contemporary art, other than the fact that its contemporary). So, basically, contemporary literature is anything that doesn't better fit into another category, as everything written now is, by definition, contemporary fiction - the reason that tag is seldom used is that it reveals nothing of style or genre. Literary fiction is what I suspect you're work would fall under. Its not necessarily as daunting as it sounds, it just means "serious" literature, books that are written to be thought about and analysed and challenge readers (well, good lit fiction, that is...).
     
  7. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I agree with your mother--assuming those are your choices. As long as you're breathing, you're certainly "contemporary," and if it's not historical or set in the future, then modern it is. So go for it! Otherwise, Genre is only your concern if a particular genre is what you were aiming for in your writing. "Contemporary/Modern" is a euphemism for "everything else."

    You should, though, learn how to describe your story (because people will want to know something about its theme and the kind of storytelling they might expect). But you needn't use genre terms to describe it (to agents and others who might be interested in reading it). Pointing out that it has elements of everything sounds like a way of saying it has no particular focus. And if it doesn't, it probably should have. That's a point you'll need to be able to make. :)
     
  8. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    If it's not about women for women, then it's not chic lit. Even if it is about women and for women sometimes it can be classified as general fiction as well, it's hard to tell sometimes it is just up to the publisher and agents how they see it and where it would fit in.

    If, as you say, it is about a man, it wouldn't be chic lit. It would be general fiction, because there is no dude lit. lol

    If it's for adults and is about a male lead character, it would most likely be classified as General Fiction and that is where I would start, and see what the publishing world thinks about it afterward.
     
  9. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've noticed that each publisher will have slightly different ideas about what books fit into what category, especially since they overlap so easily. Just to give you an example, some that say they publish literary fiction avoid fantasy like the plague, while others treat it equally. Obviously, before you go submitting you're going to have to find publishers that have publish books similar to yours. Use the terms that they uses. From what you've described, it is contemporary fiction, but it could also count as literary depending on style. And general is just that "general."
     
  10. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Okay, so I think what you guys are saying is, when the agencies say they are looking for contemporary fiction they are basically saying they want the stuff that isn't an obvious genre like erotica or scifi, right? The "everything else" category. The whole modern/post modern thing confuses the hell out of me but I think that is irrelevant to the book I'm writing anyway. I do agree that saying "this book has a little bit of everything" and then listing all of it's elements isn't the proper way to pitch it, although I haven't quite gotten to the stage of writing a synopsis yet, gotta finish the book first. Hehe.

    But still can be funny/entertaining right? Based on everything you guys said, I think contemporary fiction is what feels closest.
     
  11. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Yeah it can still be funny, its basically just your way of saying that you want to be taken seriously as a writer. There are plenty of funny authors of literary fiction, and plenty of action packed, entertaining, literary novels.
     
  12. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Well, I would like to be taken seriously! Unfortunately none of the agencies say they are looking for "literary fiction" or even mention the term (at least none of the ones I looked at, I went through maybe 4-5 pages of agents so far).
     
  13. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Really? Maybe pick some of your favourite authors and find out who represents them, then work back from there until you find a suitable agent.
     
  14. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    You mention "coming of age" as one of the aspects of your book. Is your MC a teen? If so, it could also fall under Young Adult.

    I would avoid classifying my book as Literary Fiction since that sets a really high bar for yourself (as if it's not hard enough to get published). The expectation, I would guess, would be a highly stylized (in prose and storyline) and intellectually complex book.
     
  15. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    No, my MC isn't a teen. He's in his twenties. Maybe rather than "coming of age" its more of a "quarter life crisis" sort of thing. And I don't think the book is suitable for young adults, it contains a lot of sex and drug use (not to say teens dont do or understand that stuff, Id just feel a little uncomfortable actually marketing it for teens). Yeah I agree, contemporary general fiction is where it's at for this book. :) And finding other books sorta similar to mine might be tough, I haven't read many.. but I can try. That would definitely be a good way to go about it, thanks. :)
     
  16. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    You'd be surprised how many books in that demographic have all those things if you looked into the market/demographic (calling it a genre sounds SO limiting). I get bored with most books for adults, so that's what I read. Besides, the way I see it, just because it's not on the shelf that says it's for teens doesn't mean they won't read it. Because some of the major teen publishers do underestimate what teens can handle, or how well they can read, teens skip that section anyway, so you might as well not hide it from them.

    Though it may be a moot point because if the age of your character.
     
  17. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Yeah, he's 24 so it's a biiiit out of range, I'm sure teens could totally still read it though. :)
     

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