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Do readers and authors agree about genres?

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Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson Reading Haven't got a Kindle. A big pile of books.
07 Jan 2018, 06:36 PM | Post: #1

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Do readers and authors agree about genres?

As a reader I assumed that 'women's fiction' would simply be a story that appealed to women. But as a writer I have now discovered that women's fiction is quite specialised and must have a strong female. character and other important criteria.
I assumed that a 'romance' was a story that included a romantic liaison. But have learnt that the 'romance' part has to be the main plot and it has to have an HEA or a HFN. Readers of 'romance' can be quite scathing in their reviews if the story does not come up to their expectations.
There is much debate about what constitutes 'literary fiction'.  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/01/subsidise-writers-lost-plot-literary-fiction-authors-readers-story  .
Many websites, including the KUF do not have a section for 'general fiction' (miscellaneous can be a bit of a dungeon), so where does one place a book that will appeal mainly to women readers, but does not fit 'women's fiction', is not a 'romance' and is not 'literary fiction'?
I'd love to know reader's opinions on genres and what they expect from them. Rolleyes
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Offline cecilia_writer Reading Murder by the Glass by Lynda Wilcox
08 Jan 2018, 09:03 AM | Post: #2

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RE: Do readers and authors agree about genres?

I've never been very clear about what's meant by women's fiction, and in fact I think if anything I wouldn't be interested in it as it suggests to me that whoever classified it thinks of it as fiction that would only appeal to women so shouldn't be in a general fiction category where men might accidentally stumble across it! If there isn't a general fiction category, where does 'men's fiction' go? Or is that covered by thrillers, fantasy and sci-fi?
But, more seriously, I think some of the definitions are becoming a bit too prescriptive - possibly in a misguided attempt to keep readers securely in their comfort zones.
There was a discussion the other day on kboards about this kind of thing in relation to dystopian near-future fiction, and some people objected to it being classified under sci-fi because there weren't any spaceships in it (I'm summarising here) so maybe this is quite a widespread thing. I don't know what the answer is - more categories? Classifying things under literary fiction if they don't fit any of the genres?
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Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson Reading Haven't got a Kindle. A big pile of books.
08 Jan 2018, 09:45 AM | Post: #3

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RE: Do readers and authors agree about genres?

(08 Jan 2018 09:03 AM)cecilia_writer Wrote: Wrote:  I've never been very clear about what's meant by women's fiction, and in fact I think if anything I wouldn't be interested in it as it suggests to me that whoever classified it thinks of it as fiction that would only appeal to women so shouldn't be in a general fiction category where men might accidentally stumble across it! If there isn't a general fiction category, where does 'men's fiction' go? Or is that covered by thrillers, fantasy and sci-fi?
But, more seriously, I think some of the definitions are becoming a bit too prescriptive - possibly in a misguided attempt to keep readers securely in their comfort zones.
There was a discussion the other day on kboards about this kind of thing in relation to dystopian near-future fiction, and some people objected to it being classified under sci-fi because there weren't any spaceships in it (I'm summarising here) so maybe this is quite a widespread thing.  I don't know what the answer is - more categories? Classifying things under literary fiction if they don't fit any of the genres?
I just wish there was a category for general fiction. Our local bookshop mostly has just 'fiction' with the obvious Mills & Boon-type romances in their own section. When I'm looking for something to read I rarely look under genres and just choose from covers that look interesting.
It's frustrating to have to put a book in a category that I wouldn't myself choose a book from. Sad
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Offline cecilia_writer Reading Murder by the Glass by Lynda Wilcox
08 Jan 2018, 10:31 AM | Post: #4

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RE: Do readers and authors agree about genres?

Yes, it seems that the bookshop approach works better for readers especially if they are browsing, as I tend to do in bookshops. It's a different matter if you're looking for something by a specific author. But then it's more difficult to find something new. (by which I mean different from things you've already read)
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Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson Reading Haven't got a Kindle. A big pile of books.
08 Jan 2018, 01:08 PM | Post: #5

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RE: Do readers and authors agree about genres?

(08 Jan 2018 10:31 AM)cecilia_writer Wrote: Wrote:  Yes, it seems that the bookshop approach works better for readers especially if they are browsing, as I tend to do in bookshops. It's a different matter if you're looking for something by a specific author. But then it's more difficult to find something new. (by which I mean different from things you've already read)
Yes. We have a 'library' at our retirement village and it seems that every new resident donates a load of books, so there is always something new to look at. I find 'new' authors through serendipity. Smile
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Offline Anna Faversham Reading
09 Jan 2018, 10:25 AM | Post: #6

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RE: Do readers and authors agree about genres?

This post was last modified: 09 Jan 2018 06:19 PM by Anna Faversham.
I've had terrible trouble categorizing my own books. I started out to write a romance but it was stuffed full of adventure, mysteries and various other 'categories'. I try to keep mine out of the straight romance genres because they're non-formulaic.

For reference (when I remember) I use  Goodreads' idea of genres. It's comprehensive and useful for both readers and writers.
https://www.goodreads.com/book    If you go to this page, on the right there is a list of genres. If you click on any genre it takes you to a good description of what is expected in that genre.
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Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson Reading Haven't got a Kindle. A big pile of books.
09 Jan 2018, 03:44 PM | Post: #7

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RE: Do readers and authors agree about genres?

(09 Jan 2018 10:25 AM)Anna Faversham Wrote: Wrote:  I've had terrible trouble categorizing my own books. I started out to write a romance but it was stuffed full of adventure, mysteries and various other 'categories'. I try to keep mine out of the straight romance genres because they're non-formulaic.

For reference (when I remember) I use  Goodreads' idea of genres. It's comprehensive and useful for both readers and writers.

https://www.goodreads.com/genres  If you go to this page, on the right there is a list of genres. If you click on any genre it takes you to a good description of what is expected in that genre.

That link doesn't seem to work but if you search that through Google it does take you to the right page. I hope.
Thanks. I found these definitions, I've had reviews that said the book was difficult to define and some have gone with 'contemporary romance' some with 'chick-lit' and some with 'women's fiction'. But I've also had reviews from men who said they had enjoyed the story. So back to 'general fiction' as the only one that is really suitable.Rolleyes

Genres on goodreads
Chick Lit
Chick lit is genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly. Although it sometimes includes romantic elements, chick lit is generally not considered a direct subcategory of the romance novel genre, because the heroine's relationship with her family or friends is often just as important as her romantic relationships.

Womens Fiction
Women's fiction is an umbrella term for books that are marketed to female readers, and includes many mainstream novels, romantic fiction, "chick lit,"and other sub genres. It is distinct from Women's writing, which refers to literature written by (rather than promoted to) women. There exists no comparable label in English for works of fiction that are marketed to males.
The Romance Writers of America organization defines women's fiction as, "a commercial novel about a woman on the brink of life change and personal growth. Her journey details emotional reflection and action that transforms her and her relationships with others, and includes a hopeful/upbeat ending with regard to her romantic relationship."

Romance
According to the Romance Writers of America, "Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending." Both the conflict and the climax of the novel should be directly related to that core theme of developing a romantic relationship, although the novel can also contain subplots that do not specifically relate to the main characters' romantic love. Other definitions of a romance novel may be broader, including other plots and endings or more than two people, or narrower, restricting the types of romances or conflicts.

Contemporary Romance
Romance with a contemporary setting. Contemporary romance is set after World War II.

Literary Fiction
Literary fiction is a term that has come into common usage in the early 1960s. The term is principally used to distinguish "serious fiction" which is a work that claims to hold literary merit, in comparison from genre fiction and popular fiction. The name literature is sometimes used for this genre, although it can also refer to a broader category of writing.

https://www.goodreads.com/genres/general
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Offline Anna Faversham Reading
09 Jan 2018, 06:18 PM | Post: #8

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RE: Do readers and authors agree about genres?

This post was last modified: 09 Jan 2018 06:21 PM by Anna Faversham.
There's definitions of many more genres, Jan. Loads and loads.

Try this link and go to the genres you're interested in (they're listed on the right).

https://www.goodreads.com/book

I'm about to publish (well in a month or two!) my third book in a series and I'm finding it even harder to classify it than the others.
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Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson Reading Haven't got a Kindle. A big pile of books.
09 Jan 2018, 06:44 PM | Post: #9

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RE: Do readers and authors agree about genres?

(09 Jan 2018 06:18 PM)Anna Faversham Wrote: Wrote:  There's definitions of many more genres, Jan. Loads and loads.

Try this link and go to the genres you're interested in (they're listed on the right).

https://www.goodreads.com/book

I'm about to publish (well in a month or two!) my third book in a series and I'm finding it even harder to classify it than the others.
That's what I did Smile I just looked at the ones that I would have to choose from if 'general' wasn't available. Looks as if 'literary' is the only suitable one. Hope you can find a 'home' for your book Rolleyes.
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