Mark Terry

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bemused

July 25, 2008
Just when I thought I had nothing to say (but when has that ever stopped me?)

I was walking Frodo this morning when a woman pulled up alongside us and asked if I was Mark Terry. It turns out I was. When I was looking for beta-readers for The Fortress of Diamonds, I had asked a friend if his daughter would read it. She did, and then her Mom read it, too, then her Mom asked me if she could give it to a friend of her's who is the youth section librarian at a nearby library. I said no problem.

Well, this was that woman, and she has a 15-year-old daughter who read it, as well.

So we chatted, not that much about The Fortress of Diamonds, although we touched on that, but about books in general and the marketplace. I mentioned my friend Erica Orloff commenting yesterday how she loves to write comedy, but the publishing industry says comedy is "chick-lit" and chick-lit is dead. And I commented that there have been rumors that "thrillers" are on the way out, although a year or so ago they were all the rage, and how many of those writers will probably start calling their books "suspense" or whatever.

She told me how as a librarian she's very frustrated by this, because there are a lot of readers at the library who won't read it if it doesn't have the "mystery" tag on the spine.

Tell me about it.

I'm less stressed about this as a reader, although frankly I find the fact the local Borders calls some books "romantic suspense" that I can't differentiate from a thriller or a mystery, but can only be found in the Romance section, and how some techno-thrillers can be found in the Mystery section while others are only found in the Science Fiction & Fantasy section.

As a writer though, it's like you have to make sure you label the damned manuscript properly so your agent or potential editors don't get confused as to what you are actually selling. Frustrating.

Oh well, it was an interesting morning.

Cheers,
Mark Terry

11 Comments:

Blogger Jude Hardin said...

I get frustrated with the plethora of subgenres as well. For what I write, I think "crime fiction" narrows it down enough. If suspense is hot, we'll call it that. Or whatever.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Hi Mark:
You have NO idea how much this drives me nuts. I think some of it is simply that until your NAME is a brand, it's got to go somewhere, because if it was purely alphabetical, no one would find anything. But to declare one area or another "dead" is just frustrating. I sent out a proposal last year that my agent thought was my best proposal ever. Frankly, I thought the thing was hilarious. Right out of the gate, I had four editors love it--but say, "I just can't take a chick lit to committee. Tell her to wait a while and in the meantime maybe do a romantic suspense."

So trust me, when the moratorium on chick lit lifts, I have got a hot book ready to go. ;-)
E

7:32 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

The whole chick lit thing is Utterly Ridiculous. And considering how well it's selling if it's a mystery or paranormal, it's ridiculous that people treat it as if it's a pariah.

Thrillers on the way out? Say it ain't so!

8:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Sounds like a theme.

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Even worse, if you write something that you can't really fit into a pigeonhole it is virtually impossible to sell it. There's something truly obnoxious about publishers requiring us to write nothing but product that fits one of the publisher created product lines.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Eric,
I am honest-to-god totally blank about the difference between paranormal, supernatural et al. People talk about, oh, I wrote a paranormal romance or, gee, I wrote a supernatural thriller and I just read that and think, "What the hell?"

I asked Joe Moore once, who with Lynn Sholes has co-authored a number of novels like "The Grail Conspiracy" what they would call their books and he said, "apocalyptic thrillers."

That puzzled me a bit, although it's a good enough description, but I would argue that although I have called my Derek Stillwater novels "action thrillers" I could probably call them "apocalyptic thrillers" as well. Or "political thrillers" which is often what publishers call "espionage novels" so as not to drive off female readers (so they say), and at some level, the DS novels could be called all of those.

9:22 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Are they kidding? I'm a woman, but I never pick up political thrillers when I know they're called political thrillers.

But a spy novel? We women love secrets. We love dark and mysterious. Are they nuts? All they have to do is say the word 'spy,' and we're all over it!

9:34 AM  
Blogger Joe Moore said...

"I asked Joe Moore once, who with Lynn Sholes has co-authored a number of novels like "The Grail Conspiracy" what they would call their books and he said, apocalyptic thrillers."

OK, Mark, here's my spin. If the character looks in a mirror and sees a demon staring back, the book is paranormal. If the demon speaks, it's supernatural. :-)

2:29 PM  
Blogger Joe Moore said...

Here's a additional problem we have. Every one of our books says A Cotten Stone Mystery right on the cover. Unfortunately, we don't write mysteries. We get a lot of email from fans saying they had a hard time finding our thrillers in the books store. Could be they were in the wrong section???

2:33 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Joe,
I'm too momentarily mellow to get involved in a midnight-ink-distribution-flamewar tonight, so I'll skip that part. As for this:

OK, Mark, here's my spin. If the character looks in a mirror and sees a demon staring back, the book is paranormal. If the demon speaks, it's supernatural. :-)"

This feels like a Zen koan. I just know if I repeat it enough and concentrate, I'll be enlightened...

3:13 PM  
Blogger Aimless Writer said...

I think the books stay the same they just rename the genres every couple of years.
Chick lit - romantic comedy/same difference.

6:37 PM  

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