ICLM- Guest Post, Fiona Faith Ross

Today readers, to continue in this month's celebration of International Chick Lit Month, I have guest blogging today "Fiona Faith Ross ".

Crossing Borders by Fiona Faith Ross
Chick Lit is so last century
Chick Lit is defined as a genre of commercial fiction based on women's issues, not necessarily romance, but the challenges of life from a female point of view. It is hugely popular, although I notice a rising tide of criticism that claims Chick Lit has had its day. I do not agree but I think what may be happening is that the agenda of women continues to broaden.

What agents want
These days, it may not be enough to create a protagonist who is 'only' battling domestic and career issues, e.g. work and childcare, or the hapless P.A. to the hostile and predatory male boss. Today's women are geeky and adventurous, and their interests have expanded hugely. They are shopping for killer heels, but also for techy kit, gadgets, SUVs, and adventure holidays. You may have to widen the scope of your Chick Lit offering to make your concept more original. The trouble is, when you do that, you stray across borders into the foggy realms of cross-genre and you hit a new problem. From the agent's point of view, it is all about marketing: For 'genre', substitute 'readership'.
Inside or outside the box?

'What genre is it?' asks the beady-eyed agent.
'Well, it's mostly Chick Lit but there is a strong element of crime in it. You could say it's a romantic thriller or it could be…' At this point, you watch the agent's eyes glaze over.
It matters, because the publishing and marketing machine has to know which genre to slot your book into, and consequently which shelf in the bookstore, because that is where your identified readership will expect to find it. In our case, readers of Chick Lit and readers of Thrillers expect different things, and your book may satisfy neither. If you are an indie author, you have full control of these marketing decisions, but you may find it harder to build sales.

Build your own fan base online. Create your own genre-addicts. Identify successful publications similar to yours and analyse how those authors market their work. Check out the successful genre-defiers, too.
I believe there is a growing interest in 'cross-genre'. It is a component of originality, which can give your book a unique angle for marketing. Certainly, the online bookstores appear to offer a wider selection of genre categories than paper bookstores, because they can afford to do so. Paradoxically, there are many successful authors who do very nicely thank you, churning out the same old stuff, but that is because they are able to bring freshness in other ways to their existing formula. However, you can transform Chick Lit to 'Chick Lit With Attitude' in more ways than one.
The most important thing is that you write what fires you up. If you cross borders as a result, it is risky, but it may be the crucial ingredient that makes your book stand out from the rest.

Fiona Faith Ross lives in the beautiful south west of the United Kingdom. She writes slipstream science fiction and has just completed her debut novel. Her blog is Novel Thinking.


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