Sunday, 15 May 2011

Bend, don't break.

According to ‘the lads’ in the pub, because, 1) I drink pints with my pinkie in the air, 2) I recently admitted to being wrong to a female colleague, and 3) I like latte, I have to hand in my penis.

Fortunately, because, a) my favourite Bond is Sean Connery, b) I came up with “or more gore” as an anagram for Roger Moore, and c) I have the sartorial nous of a Star Trek convention, I was pardoned and allowed to keep the ‘Ald Fella’. For now.

We were talking about the pressures on blokes to be blokes. 33.3% of us thought the pressure overwhelming. 33.3% hadn’t noticed any pressure whatsoever. The remaining 33.4% was still at the bar, but I’m sure he - the tallest of the trio - would have said he had noticed but didn’t give a monkey’s.

Then the football came on and 33.4% kept interrupting the run of play with a story about getting on a bus behind a fat man with a gigantic back-pack and spending a happy ten minutes laughing as the guy tried to sit down in the narrow seats without removing said encumbrance.

Without thinking I asked the question, when is bending to peer-pressure ever a good thing?

Of course, there are many answers. It’s not good to be rude or offensive, or make people gag due to your halitosis, for example.

Also, if you want to sell books.

Placing your book firmly in a genre really does help. There are only so many labelled shelves in the book store or library. The drop down list on the bookseller’s website can only be so long. Even if your book is cross genre, pick the most representative and say that’s what it is. Help the publisher and retailers to sell it.

I’ve been reading submissions for a publishing house recently and it struck me that the author’s cross genre descriptions accompanying some manuscripts made them sound muddled, unsure, weak. Not a good start.

Books described as a single recognised genre did not suffer because they strayed or crossed over during the course of the story.

Sell as one genre. Let the readers add their tags at their leisure. You may be surprised at the results.

Your thoughts?


  1. Crossing genres didn't stop Simon Pegg releasing a Rom-Com-Zom film, I suppose.

    With your friends, perhaps you could order a strawberry daquiri as your beverage of choice for a couple of weeks and then, when you go back to beer, you will seem like the epitome of be-penised manliness in comparison.

  2. I agree. There are two arts involved here. One is writing and the other is marketing your work. Sometimes a person is good at both, but often not. I'm sure anyone in the marketing side of publishing would agree with what you say.

    As for the Ald Fella - keep it, and don't bend to peer pressure :-)

  3. Great post and I'm glad you got to keep your appendage ;)

    Having a finished manuscript that crosses a few genres I admit to being perplexed at throwing a label on it... I mean, what if I screw up?

    The journey to publication can be trying, and this is one more piece of lettuce on the perpetual sandwich.

    Again, great post!

  4. I have a hard time picking just one genre label because I don't want to limit potential readers. You are right though, too many labels starts sounding scattered and unfocused. Picking one gives me an overall focus for the main story too (even though I plan to blend in other elements).

  5. I agree with you. Although most books probably contain elements of more than one genre, I can see how it would sound stronger and more focused to choose one.

    Nice anagram work, by the way.