Is your novel literary? Shame on you

image116So you took the leap.  You stood on the edge of the precipice and decided to write a novel.

It was going to be marvellous.  It was going to be a million-dollar idea.  You had decided to turn your back on the publishing houses and throw yourself into the world of indie publishing.  You were going to do this thing.  You got this….

But then something went wrong.  Blame that dodgy literature degree, that Creative Writing course, blame your mother if you have to.  Thing is, the more you write the novel, the more you realise that you have committed the cardinal sin of Indie Publishing.  You have written that most odd of all oddities – the wild and genreless, the …. literary novel.

Horror of horrors and shame on you.

The folly of Writing a literary novel

Did you not pay attention to all those podcasts?  Did you deign to completely ignore all the advice of those generous kindle bestsellers who warned you that the only way to make tuppence on Kindle was to throw your lot in with the scifi/ dystopian/ thriller/ romance crew?  What gave you the right to think that you could waste your time with something that NOBODY will ever even find on Amazon, let alone tell their friends about it?

Well all I can say is that you knew the facts and you went and did it anyway.

Accept the consequences.  Even if your novel will blow Hemingway out of the water, you, my friend, have chosen a near impossible task.  You will flounder around searching for your ‘readers’.  Perhaps you might strike lucky on Goodreads.  If your heroine is plucky fifteen year old girl then you might get some traction in the YA market.  That’s if you can drag them away from their fan-fiction and snap-chatting.

I wish you luck my intrepid friend.  Many have tried and many have been very, very disappointed.  But I admire your courage, your brave willingness to give it your best shot.

Why we should admire self-publishers of literary fiction

You are one of those brave pioneers who has ‘written from the heart’.  You are the writer who turned their back on the well-trodden genre path and is willing to forge their way through the wilderness.  You are a leader, a revolutionary, and I salute you.

And I am right there beside you.  I too read the books.  I knew the facts – genre novels have greater visibility and more established reader forums.  Literary novels are a hard sell.  They don’t quite fit.  They are the geeky, unpopular gang in Indie Publishing World.  But we couldn’t help ourselves could we?

We sat down to write and these are the words that came to us.  We tried to bend it to the ‘market’.  Hell, we even tried making one of our characters a vampire shapeshifter in Chapter Two, only to abandon them into a magical realism interlude in the inner epilogue at the start of the Verse part of the novel.  We really wanted to make our novels fit the mould.  But we couldn’t.

Good luck to us literary fiction writers.  We should just go gung-ho and give it our best shots.  What was the saying ” Aim for the stars and you may not reach them, but you will fly higher than if you had never aimed at all.”

So let’s take the leap.  Let’s throw ourselves into the abyss.  And let’s support each other while we do it.  Together.

Have you written a literary novel?  Are you thinking of self-publishing?  Tell us about your novel in the comments below.  Here is your chance.

 

Advertisements

Book Marketing and the strange case of Ishiguro’s balloons

bookstore windowThere is cause for celebration at my local bookstore.  For the first time in a decade, Kazuo Ishiguro has released a new book.

From the blurb it seems to offer a mythical tale full of wonder and giants.  The cover is beautiful – a deep matt navy, rich as a midnight sky with a sacred tree winding its way from the rich soil of a perfectly fonted title.  The Buried Giant, it announces. By Kazuo Ishiguro – in gold lettering.  Gold lettering.  This is an important book, it calls to us.  It is simple but magical.  It will change you, shake the roots of your very existence.  It is a book to be talked about.

Imagine my surprise then when I entered the store and saw this:

ishiguros balloonsNot only are they balloons.  They are special Ishiguro balloons.  Regard how they match the colour of the cover.  Behold how they are emblazoned with the same minimal illustration.  Which is both marvelous and fabulous, whilst at the same time, deeply disturbing.

Is this what book marketing has come to?  Gone are the days when it was a discrete bookmark, or a tasteful postcard (though these were placed at BOTH counters!).  Now, to sell books, really good books, apparently we must also have balloons.

I am troubled by this.  Quite deeply.  Not only because I loathe balloons with all their squeaky- rubbery-tight-skinned-spitefulness, but also because I am not sure where the publishing world can go after this.

Is this what it has come to for those Luddites of the literary world – those authors who like me, want to write that most unsellable of things –  the epitome of genreless – literary fiction?  Must Indie publishers hoping to get their literary works noticed now offer such things to entice readers away from the safety of Paranormal-urban-fantasy-thrilleromance Genre Fiction?

If so, then here are my suggestions for

5 Inappropriate Marketing Ideas for Literary Fiction

1. Lollipops ; especially if you are selling something that is dangerously racy or perhaps touches on the subjects of child abuse, family trauma, or pedophilia.  Got to find a way to sweeten those topics for the punters, folks.

2. Beer Can holders:  You know those things made of strange, unnatural fabric that keep cans cold.  I thought that any novel that touched upon alcoholism – perfect.  Alternatively if your novel is set in a hot climate – this is good to go for you.

3. Big Hands:  Like they wave at games and other such sporting events.  If you got a jaunty little logo, people who buy the book could be given “a big hand” get it.  I mean it’s hilarious, right.  Challenging for page turning however.

4: Steak Knives:  I mean who doesn’t need more steak knives?  These babies have been the solid stuff of marketing strategies for years.  Why, I ask you, has it taken publishing so long to catch up?  So, ‘buy this novel and get a free set of steak knives’.  It’s just got a ring to it….

5: Sun Visors:  I am sure that most literary fiction readers are possibly low in their quota of free sun visors.  I might be wrong, but what better than the new Amis novel having a Go Amis Go baseball cap, or  The Liz Gilbert Visor.  It makes sense.  Literary Fiction readers don’t go out in the sun very often after all.  We need to protect our paper-like pale complexions.  Plus, how jaunty would that be?

I mean these are just some initial suggestions that I am throwing out there.  I am sure you have some of your own, so be a sport and pop them in the comments.  If we get enough of them we can bundle them up into an eBook called “Crazy Marketing Ideas for Indie Authors ”  or , if we want to go a little Seth Godin/ Malcolm Gladwell, my title vote goes with “Ishiguro’s Balloons”, just for its outstanding SEO potential alone.

Oh, and word count for the day? 

Another 3000.  Thanks for asking.

See you tomorrow, now back to your writing, You!  Yes – You!!!