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Cross genre writing

Can I have your thoughts? My WIP is commercial women's fiction, covering a mystery/suspenseish  issue which makes it not quite a bang-on romance, and apparently strays into domestic noir. Now, I'm sure I've heard agents say not to worry too much about genre when you're pitching. I've also heard that publishers like work that fits in neat boxes. I don't think I want to be put in a neat box.

I know there isn't definitive right and wrong here, but i'd love to hear thoughts and experiences on cross genre stuff, especially making it attractive in a pitch. Obviously I want to market it as a thoroughbred, not a mongrel.... :-)

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Replies (7)
    • Hi Milla, are there loads of comments on this somewhere else?  I've been away and since it seems to me one of the bigger problems of the publishing world today, whether trad or indie, I would have expected everyone to pitch in.  I couldn't agree more about the neat boxes and I think it's significant that many famous novels really fit itnto several slots Even Jane Eyre - romance, gothic horror, moral dilemmas, Dickensian suffering in boarding schools - etc etc. I too have had it pointed out to me that my cross genre work will be difficult to fit into a neat box but although lots of the comments were helpful I intend to press ahead and who knows can get it published when I'm famous for something else - ha!  Your pitch sounds perfectly fine to me so don't be put off.  Perhaps you could skew it in one direction or the other for the pitch and let them find out later about the omissions! All the best with it

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      • Hi Jaye, there was a similar discussion recently about what kind of novels fitted the book-group category. Can't remember what the thread was called but L posted a really helpful comment about how to distinguish one category from another. I'll see if I can find it.

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      • I find the whole genre/box thing a bit confusing. On the one hand you are meant to come up with something completely original, I seem to remember one of Harry’s videos talking about mixing genres to make something exciting. Then on the other hand they expect you to fit in a box so they know where to market you. I guess if your work is good enough you can invent your own genre! Good luck

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        • I've always thought Women's Fiction potentially covers such a huge area, that almost anything goes if its for and about women? 

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          • I must admit, I'm like Kate, genre confuses me, but I've noticed that the term Women's Fiction is widely disliked, and rightly so in my opinion. So I can see why people don't wish to be boxed into that category.

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            • I'm not confused by genres per se, but by the ability of the publishing industry and so much of the public - including people who otherwise display reasonable - even elevated - intelligence - to use a mashup of types of genre and not realise the incongruety of it. Some genres are presentational. Some are audience-based. Some are story-structure genres. . But… every single story in existence fits somewhere on each of those spectra. Many fit in multiple places on one or more. And that's before we add the categorisation of literary quality.

              So it's no wonder genres are confusing. The whole subject is a mess.

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              • I guess the publishing industry is no different to the world in general trying to shoehorn something as complex as a story into a particular genre box. It will fit in a different box depending who looks at it just as I am not defined by being an aspiring writer or a mother or a wife or a white middle class middle aged woman or a doctor or a gin drinker or an utter loon but am actually a mash up all those things and many more. I reckon the important thing is to know a good story when you read it and not care what shelf somebody thinks it belongs on. 

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