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 commercial and literary fiction

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Al Stevens
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PostSubject: commercial and literary fiction   Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:14 pm

In my quest for the perfect agent, I turn first to the kinds of books each agent prefers to represent. The phrases "commercial fiction" and "literary fiction" keep turning up, and they expect us to know specifically what each term means. I don't. Enlightenment?
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RetiredName
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PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:18 pm

If they have a website, check what kind of books they've repped.

Commercial and literary fiction can have varied definitions. Here is an agent who reps literary fiction. Check out the titles.

http://www.nelsonagency.com/
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Al Stevens
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PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:19 pm

Good idea, but usually they say they rep both with various agents specializing.
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Fri Jan 21, 2011 1:16 am

Literary fiction is less saleable than commercial fiction (genre), which is easier to place with publishers. Commercial fiction must be written in the same style and have the same pace of plot as all the other books on a commercial publisher's list. Mills & Boon's gudelines for authors are very specific:

http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/AAperfectromance.asp

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Al Stevens
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PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:41 am

I am trying to decide which category best defines my novel. I found this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literary_fiction

Now, I know less than I did.
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alj
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Location: San Antonio

PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:20 am

Commercial fiction is formulaic writing. The structure and tone of the content is predetermined by the genre. Literary fiction is simple storytelling that springs from the writer's imagination. It's like the difference between an artist who paints by numbers and one who starts with a blank canvas.

It's a sad state, it seems to me, that, as Shelagh said, "Literary fiction is less saleable than commercial fiction (genre), which is easier to place with publishers," and that artistic value and quality storytelling is less important than selling to the masses.

Just me.

Ann
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lyntx
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PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:28 pm

If you don't think commerical fiction requires 'artistic value and quality,' then you haven't read the authors I have.

How about Dan Brown? The Da Vinci Code held the worlds imagination and people still talk about it. I'd settle for that kind of reaction to my dribble book anytime.

Or The Historian about a vampire? How about Absolute Power? Or one I'm reading for class, Sense and Sensibilty - a romance.
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alj
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PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:03 pm

Sense and Sensibility is literary fiction. So is The Da Vinci Code, although it isn't as well written. The definition given for commercial fiction given by Shelagh, "Commercial fiction must be written in the same style and have the same
pace of plot as all the other books on a commercial publisher's list," requires a lot more adherence to a specific structure. I can't comment on the others; I am not familiar with them.

Ann
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lyntx
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PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Fri Jan 21, 2011 7:07 pm

Are you baseing all your ideas on what Shelagh says? Who says The DeVinci Code is literary fiction? My teacher says it has a fast-moving plot so that would put it in the genre category, that you say is like painting by numbers.

If a publisher has the same pace of plot for all its books, why is there so many different writers and books? I think perhaps you need to take another look at what your saying. I may not be as highly educated as you say you are, and if being so causes such snobbery, then I'll stay uneducated.
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:12 am

A fast moving plot does not put a story in a genre category, Lyn. By the way, I don't mind people disagreeing -- it makes me think in diverse ways and consider things I hadn't previously considered. Although, I do appreciate the occasional seal of approval!

I gave Mills & Boon as an example because a programme on the BBC, "How to Become a Romance Author," followed an established author trying to write a romance novel. She attended classes and spoke with fellow classmates and tutors about the process of writing. She even took a trip to Italy to attend a writing class. When she read out her first attempt to the class, it was too wordy and descriptive. When the others read out their first attempts, the wording was not so complex and went straight to the point of the story with little description. Even those who know little about writing would be able to spot the difference in style. With further investigation, it became apparent that these aspiring romance authors had been reading romance novels since they were young teenagers and loved the genre.

The established author soon realised that writing romance novels was not the breeze she thought it would be. The programme also highlighted the fact that the shelf life for romance novels is three months. It would be very difficult for non-genre writers to write at that pace.

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alj
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PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:25 am

lyntx wrote:
Are you baseing all your ideas on what Shelagh says? Who says The DeVinci Code is literary fiction? My teacher says it has a fast-moving plot so that would put it in the genre category, that you say is like painting by numbers.

If a publisher has the same pace of plot for all its books, why is there so many different writers and books? I think perhaps you need to take another look at what your saying. I may not be as highly educated as you say you are, and if being so causes such snobbery, then I'll stay uneducated.

We don't know each other yet, and are at a loss online, as Abe said in another thread. I get that I sometimes come off sounding snobbish, and since you can't hear the tone of my voice or see my eyes, you might think so, but I assure you, I did not intend to do anything other than offer a differing opinion, and then address your response.

No harm intended; none taken. Smile

Ann
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:54 am

Shelagh wrote:
The programme also highlighted the fact that the shelf life for romance novels is three months. It would be very difficult for non-genre writers to write at that pace.
I set up and run the Published Authors group on Goodreads. A bestselling romance author has just joined the group. On her website it says:

"NYTs bestselling Cait London is published in 28 countries, working on her 60+ book and her 21st year as a published author, either as Cait London or as Cait Logan (both pseudonyms)."

http://caitlondon.com/bio.html

Over sixty books published in twenty years is an average of three books a year -- every single year! Many aspiring genre writers do not realise just how prolific successful authors are.

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Al Stevens
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PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:48 am

An indication that you will be prolific is key to landing a publishing deal. They want to know that more is coming.
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lyntx
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PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:57 am

I do appreicate your research abilities, Shelagh, so that's not whats questioned.
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Jenny
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PostSubject: Re: commercial and literary fiction   Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:09 am

Shelagh,

Your comment about romance novels only having a shelf life of three months only applies to Category romance novels (word count of 55,000 or less), such as those published by eHarlequin and Mills and Boon. Full length romance novels, such as paranormal, and romantic suspense of 80,000-120,000 words remain on the shelf for as long as the publisher wants them to.
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