So, what’s “Lit”? I always
thought it was short for “Literature.”
in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and
universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as
poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays
Hmm. Not. At least not in the
genre sense. I’ve read Lit. (Okay, one and one-half.) I’m no expert,
but they seemed formulistic. Yes, I mostly rep romance, which is
formulistic. Boy wants girl. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl.
Boy gets girl back. I can deal with that.
The formula I saw with Lit was: Girl
whines. Girl whines to girlfriends. Girl has to shop at Saks. Girl
likes to have sex. On the Inspirational side: Girl whines. Girl whines
to girlfriends. Girl can’t afford to shop at Saks. Girls wishes she
could have sex.
Okay, so now I’ve made more
enemies. Sorry. Really. I’m not tryin’ to knock Lit as a genre, just
sayin’ it ain’t my thing. Even at the height of Chick Lit popularity,
it was on my “Not Looking For” list.
Then Chick Lit branched out. We
had Lad Lit, Latina Lit, and the ever-popular Hen Lit (for us older
gals). Oh, can’t forget Frat Lit.
The market ate it up. The
editors clamored for it. We suffered for it. Why? Not because of the
authors. As with most commodities, if you glut the market, eventually,
the market drives the price down, the quality of the product declines,
and the demand decreases.
Lit was so popular, I couldn’t
sell a Historical. (No, it isn’t “an historical.” When was the last
time you said, “an house”? Only use “an” before a word beginning with
“h,” if the “h” is silent.) Now that you’ve had a lesson in economics
and grammar, on with Lit.
to formulistic: A Lit book makes big bucks. All publishers
want books that make big bucks. Editors buy Lit and not much else,
stating that’s what readers want. Readers have fewer choices of genre
books to buy, as there are fewer genres on the market. Sales of
Historicals fall. Readers already buying Lit keep buying; others
defect. Some editors buy Lit manuscripts that
not be up to their
regular standards because they need to keep up with the high demand.
Original Lit readers get tired of reading Lit, some noticing the
quality isn’t up to snuff; those who defected wonder why they defected.
Sales plunge. Editors cease buying Lit, treating Lit like a dirty word.
I can now sell Historicals again.
I feel (Notice the use of the
words I feel. This tells the intelligent reader the
statement is the opinion of the columnist, not fact. Although the
columnist is smart and insightful. . . .) it wasn’t lack of demand that
made the sale of Historicals fall, but the lack of opportunity for
readers to buy Historicals, since publishing houses weren’t putting
them on the shelves.
Did I get off-track again?
Sorry. Anyway, now a writer can’t use the word Lit if they care to sell
a manuscript. Although a different animal, some Romantic Comedy authors
even suffer the blight, having to rephrase how they categorize their
manuscripts. I’ve seen some colorful options: Urban Romance with
Elements of Comedy, Humorous Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance with
Comedic Elements . . . no, I’m not kidding. Sigh.
Whether you write “Lit,” or
Romantic Comedy, or whatever, writers shouldn’t be punished because of
the way publishers manipulate the market. (Yes, I do wanna work in this
industry, but I think how I think, and I call ’em as I see ’em.) Truth
is Chick Lit started a runaway train that turned into a train wreck.
Talented writers with viable stories can’t sell what some publishers
“suggested” they write.
That ain’t right.