Genre Fiction and Class Consciousness

April 11th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

You know what they say: once a genre author, always a genre author. And that might be the best argument against labeling any book genre we’ve ever heard. So many books are defined by their slots, regardless of how they are written or what the subject matter really is. In many cases, the line between genre and literary is a matter of marketing choices.

We’re thinking about this because of a post at Beatrice regarding Poppy Z. Brite’s new book (Prime). Brite started her career in the horror realm, but has evolved, as many writers do. We have yet to encounter an author who views writing as bakery employees view folding cake boxes.

Beatrice notes that widening an audience beyond an author’s core fans — and that is absolutely what must happen for Brite’s sales to increase — requires additional effort from the publisher. This stuff doesn’t happen by osmosis.

Three Rivers showed a substantial amount of faith in Brite by buying two books that redefined her as an author, and then again by signing up the rights to her next two books. If they want that gamble to pay off, they can’t simply rely on her talent or her old fan base–and even for a long-term investment, there’s such a thing as moving too slowly. I for one am hoping this isn’t the last you hear about Brite this month; we’ll see what happens.

It does make us wonder how an author transitions from neighborhood to another. Is it easier to move genre to genre? We know of authors who have made the move and kept many of their fans, but how does one do this?

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