So. This week is Passover.
In this internet age, with all the viral-ness of everything, we get treated to everything amusing under the sun about observance of Jewish holidays. This little treat that one of my sweetie students posted on my Facebook wall takes the cake (har har) of hilarity this Passover - and it also made me think about writing (fancy that!)
(The background - every year for one week, Jews who observe Passover don't eat anything containing wheat, spelt, barley, oats, or rye. Some Jews also avoid corn, rice, and beans. Pretty much all processed food in the US of A contains corn syrup, so things like kosher-for-Passover candy are tough to find. When we find candy marked "Kosher for Passover," we tend to get a little....enthusiastic.)
This young lady, while shopping in a New York candy store this Spring, was delighted to stumble across some epically cool-looking candy that was also - miracle of miracles! - marked "Kosher for Passover."
|"Mild Mannered Duck by Day,|
Intergalactic SuperHero by Night."
If that's not awesome/hilarious/the best thing ever, I don't know what is.
I mean, come on! Chocolate lollipops in the form of SPACE DUCKS? for PASSOVER? It combines random enough things and makes little enough sense to be completely awesome.
Alright! Let's crack that box open and see some SPACE DUCKS! Made out of CHOCOLATE!
Oh. Wait. That's...um...that's pretty clearly an Easter duck. I mean, the duck is wearing an Easter bonnet, right? I mean, I know I'm a Jew, but I'm American, and...yeah. A bonnet with a bow and flowers? I'm not sure what says "Intergalactic," "Space," or even, "not related to Easter" about that.
Not that there's anything wrong with Easter. It's a great holiday! Tons of fun! Theological climax of the whole Christian religion! Bunnies! Jelly beans! But...
I didn't want Easter. I didn't buy Easter. I bought an INTERGALACTIC SPACE DUCK.
So this got me thinking about the publishing industry. One of the most common exhortations we read is to "know what genre our book is in." This is important to being marketable - how will a bookstore sell our masterpieces if they don't know what bookshelf to put them on?
Problem is, some of the most popular books out there don't fit into one genre. Just off the top of my head, SHATTER ME, a huge release from this fall, was marketed as dystopian (I think?) and it was. But I would have also called it sci-fi and a romance.
I've been querying One as Science Fiction, and it is. But it's pretty light science fiction (near future, no spaceships, robots, aliens, or crazy pervasive tech) and it's pretty heavy on the romance. So....Sci-Fi Romance Lite?
Well, that's not a genre. The problem with that is that agents and publishers want to put books in a genre. The problem with THAT is that when readers pick up a book marked as one genre and feel that they've had the experience of another genre while reading it, they tend to be kind of miffed.
Which you can see if you just read some Amazon reviews. I've been coming across a lot of "This book should have gone in x direction..." or "I expected the MC to do x, and was sorely disappointed...."
Now, this is probably equally a problem with the necessity of classifying books for sales and readers feeling a little too entitled to read Exactly What They Wanted. Still, I want to know -
Have you ever picked up a book that you expected to be an intergalactic space duck, and gotten an Easter-bonneted farm animal instead? Do you worry about that happening to your book?
(Also: Stay tuned for a Classy Author Giveaway on Wednesday! Wheeeeee!)