• Jane Denning
  • What I Still Don't Know About Being a Writer, Even After 2009
What I Still Don't Know About Being a Writer, Even After 2009
Contributor
Written by
Jane Denning
January 2010
Contributor
Written by
Jane Denning
January 2010
After spending time searching for a publisher or agent, I often come away from the computer more confused than enlightened. I'm new to the world of publishing, you see, and I'm educated in Psychology and Counseling, not English Lit. I feel like there is a secret lingo that I'm not privy to. The following is a list of what I still don't understand: 1. I don't know what agents mean by "literary nonfiction" "narrative nonfiction" and "commercial nonfiction." I vaguely know what literary (literature, writing), narrative (telling a story), and commercial (to be sold) mean. In my mind, the terms would not be mutually exclusive, but agents seem to imply that they are -- as in "bridge the gap between literary and commercial nonfiction" and other such mysterious phrases. What do they mean by these terms, and how do I categorize my writing when I think it is all three? 2. What do they mean by "women's fiction," "women's literature," and "chicklit"? Are these different names for the same thing? Chicklit is a less formal term, does it refer to less formal writing? A less sophisticated audience? Can chicklit be nonfiction? Also, when they say "think book club" I think "chicklit." Am I wrong? 3. I don't know what "upmarket" is, but it sounds snobby. Is it like "uptown," as in, it will appeal to educated people with money? Is there such thing as "downmarket" books? Maybe steamy romances or graphic novels? 4. If I have a "platform" does it mean that I am already famous, that I can claim some expertise in a field, that my book will appeal to a specific population, or that my topic is hot or politically charged? 5. Some agents want works that "cross over." What's that about? Where are they crossing to and from? From women to men? From book to film? From one side of the mysterious literary/commercial gap to the other? 6. Some fellow shewrites members have suggested that I call my book "experimental" memoir. This is not a term that agents use. Where did the term come from, and do I really want to use it if no agents or publishers ask for it? These are the questions that I ponder as I look over lists of publishers and agents. If anyone out there can decode these mysteries of the publishing universe, I will be your grateful and captive audience.

Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

519 articles
12 articles

Featured Members (7)

123 articles
392 articles
54 articles
60 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

Comments
  • Jane Denning

    Another great link. Thanks!

  • Jessica Brooks

    Jane - I came across a new blog today and noticed she had a four-part series on Building your platform. Thought of you right away (regarding Q #4). Here's the link to the first one, and then scroll up to more current posts to see 2-4. =)

  • Jane Denning

    Thanks Jessica, the links were helpful. Let me know when you post your blog entry if it gives any more answers.

  • Jessica Brooks

    You are asking questions that I've either asked myself the past six months or am still asking. I was just wondering what "upmarket" meant last night, in fact.

    Regarding the difference between chick lit, women's fiction, ect. - I came across this website. (Ignore the author part at the top and read underneath all of that.) The paragraphs up until where it says something about the color of book jackets or something explains quite a bit.

    Platforms are basically tools we use to be recognized - what you use to sell yourself and your book (aka product/s). Check out this link.

    I'm not sure how many writers, agents, or publishers you follow on places like blogger and twitter, but those sites (along with Google, of course) have answered many questions I've had. Feel free to check out my blog (link listed on my profile) for people I follow, and twitter as well.

    Good luck - and thanks - you just gave me a great subject for my next blog!;)