Differentiating Between Chick-lit and Women’s Fiction

March 7th, 2006 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Before we get into MediaBistro’s interview with Hyperion editor Zareen Jaffrey (whom some of you may remember from Red Dress Ink), we have to puzzle over one of the more odd book titles we’ve encountered this week: Desperate Housewives Cookbook.

Now if this were, oh, the fifties, we’d be thinking, ah, a cookbook for a new cook. You know, “Hi honey, I’m bringing the boss home to taste some that good food.” And then the desperate housewife realizes that the pre-made frozen meals from her mother worked, but she’s out! She’ll have to cook from scratch…

Anyway, that needed to be let out. You don’t want those thoughts rattling around the BS head. Jaffrey left Red Dress, went to Hyperion, and is now working on lots of tie-in titles (because, of course, that’s what we were talking about earlier). She’s also looking for some good women’s fiction. Aren’t we all?

Ah, yes, what constitutes good? Well, the usual: voice, story, grabbing the editor by the throat in a literary sort of way. The better question is what constitutes women’s fiction, because that’s like defining the wind:

To me, the difference between chick lit and “commercial women’s fiction” is largely one of tone and demographics. Commercial women’s fiction can appeal to a broader audience and have grittier issues and more edgy writing. The perception of chick lit is generally that it is a little lighter and skews a bit younger, largely due to the fact that some of the most successful chick lit novels can be described this way. In my experience, they tend to be a bit more predictable — which is why voice is so important — but predictability is not always a bad thing. The same can be said for most romantic comedies, but people still go to the movies.

File Under: Publishers and Editors