Friday, May 20, 2011

Confessions of an Unapologetic Book Snob

I hate street lit.  I can't fault anyone for liking what they like.  Lord knows I have a love of a few things that no one else understands, but I absolutely cannot stand street lit.  I love literary fiction, historical fiction, a splash of chick lit, thrillers/mysteries, etc.  I'll read just about anything that causes me to think or broadens my horizons in a positive way.  If you're a regular reader of the blog, you already know that. Why am I bringing it up again?  There are two reasons.

First, I've been inundated in recent weeks with requests from authors of street and/or erotic lit.  I'm no fan of either.  I'm not from the streets, I'm not entertained by the streets and I have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to read about them.  I read as an escape from real world problems, so it's difficult to imagine anyone wanting to escape to the world of street lit.  If I want to see what's happening in the streets, I can turn on the five or six o'clock news on any given day of the week and play catch up.   To each their own, but for the authors that keep reaching out asking me to not only review their self-published work, but also purchase it to do so, please save yourself some keystrokes.  There are plenty of bloggers that would love to read your work, I'm just not one of them.

The second reason I bring this up is I watched an author on Twitter lament about the classification of her work.  By her own admission it's neither literary fiction, nor is it street lit.  However, it is generally about people in hip hop and, sometimes, that touches on the streets.  A few months ago she posed the same question about one of her past works and I noted that while some parts could be classified as chick lit, depending on who was giving the narrative at the time, other parts certainly had a touch of street to them.  But I agreed that her work was not literary fiction.

She was also concerned that because of the cover her publisher has given her forthcoming book, her book will be overlooked by book snobs such as myself in the bookstore.  Why? Because without knowing what the book is about, the cover makes it look like another typical piece of street lit.

So what's the middle ground when your work doesn't fit neatly into the already defined genres? Do authors or publishers create new genres?  Authors don't necessarily have control of the cover art for their books.  Do the marketing departments know something readers don't know?  And can the wrong cover spell disaster for a book? And lastly, am I way off base on street lit?

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