Monday, July 9, 2012
The Hiccups of Being a Hybrid Writer
I am looking for places to send my book for a review, but so many places have too narrow of guidelines which restrict you to labels and genres. Are you a horror writer? Is your book a horror novel? If not, then we can't accept your submission.
Other review sites say things like, we accept all genres accept horror.
Well, that's easy enough. But what about a writer, like me, who mixes genres? For example, the excellent Indie Book Review website accepts Horror books for review but not Science Fiction. How does one then classify a mixed genre like my book? Or the movie Alien for that matter. Is it horror or sci-fi? Well, in the case of Alien, it's equal parts of both.
Which makes me wonder, who gets to decide on which genre you are? The reader? The publisher? You?
I mix genres because I can use that as a tool to make the story more compelling. My new zombie novel combines equal parts horror, science fiction, and erotica. People have no idea how to classify it. Lot's simply state they don't read erotica--sex grosses them out. But they absolutely adore psychopaths, killers, and monster gore fests, vampires, etc. Just not sex. I think these people probably have mental issues.
But it's limitations like this that make sending my work to reviewers who have strict guidelines which limit their genres or demographics rather difficult. In my opinion, this is just the traditional publishing world slipping behind the digital era. People are clinging to the old rules, because, well, they worked. For classic books released under publishing houses. But now we're talking books released directly to Kindle. We're talking bypassing all that stuff, and getting straight into the meaty of a good, or not so good, story. But the reviewers are part of the old guard, they haven't made the change over to the new.
With recent technology making it possible for anybody, and I do mean anybody, to write and publish a book themselves (heck, I should know, I'm one of them) there is a lot of pressure on reviewers. Creating strict review guidelines is one way they can weed out the stuff they just don't care for and cut out the never ending submissions from every single person who can hit the 'publish now' button when making their book for sale on Amazon.com. Hey, I get it. I do. But at the same time I am thinking there must be some new paradigm out there that we simply haven't discovered yet. Partially because this digital self-publishing has changed the way we perceive books, but also because so many people just have no desire to get with the times. As the old adage goes, if it ain't broke, then don't fix it.
The old model works. It just doesn't work for me. At least not as well as I'd like. Well, who am I to complain? It just seems rather unfair. People who can stick to a genre and write, say, a Young Lit. paranormal romance novel will be the first to get picked up by a review sight (it's the trendy genre at the moment). Whereas writers who are going out on a limp to try something new, and perhaps mix it up a bit, well, we get limited to sending our stories to people who accept anything an everything.
That's not a bad thing, per se. These avid readers love all books, and all titles no matter their genre or content. I think, more power to them! But these voracious readers usually have a full reading schedule and my book, which doesn't fit neatly in any genre and doesn't play nice with people's sensibilities, will get backlogged. What if I need a review to help with promotion and advertising? Truthfully, forget about it.
Even as I am restricted to who will read my book, let alone consider it for review, I am not completely with out options. There are pay for review websites like Kirkus Indie Review. Great if you can afford it. But who am I kidding. I work full time and have a family to support. When it comes to spending that extra money and time, I have a choice: I can spend it on trying to promote my book or spend it on supporting my family. For some reason, people frown on you when your kid wears a paper back to school and socks they got out of the dumpster because dad blew all his money on his bad habit. Needless to say, my family takes precedent over my hobby of writing. My day job takes precedent over my hobby too. But I keep writing anyway. Who knows? Maybe one day I my hobby might become my day job. That's the dream anyway.
So that leaves me playing the slow game. As an Indie writer, I simply have come to terms with the fact that I don't have the advertising muscle of a classic publishing house. Heck, I don't even have an agent. I am just some independent author who enjoys writing books and playing with various genres because, let's face it, I love writing. It's like breathing, if I couldn't do it, I'd slowly suffocate until my brain just turned off one day and that would be the end of it.