Friday, April 30, 2010

The Controversy of Women's Fiction

After reading this brilliant post by Mary Sharratt at My Friend Amy's book blog it really got me thinking about women's fiction. It brought up a lot of questions: Why are women's issues only relevant to women? Why do women read books about men but rarely do we see the opposite? Why are most books categorized as women's fiction either frowned upon for being frivolous chick lit or criticized as 'misery lit' for taking on weightier issues?

When I finished my novel, I had no idea that it would even be categorized as women's fiction. I had no idea what this genre meant. The only thing I knew was that a man would not want to read my novel. So I immediately stripped it of what I thought might be its original classification: literary fiction. Ya know the 'serious' fiction. The real thing.

Yes. That example right there...that's what some would consider a serious problem.

Or is it?

As I begin to pitch agents and I study this genre, I am very happy to position my novel this way. Ya know why? Women read these novels. They crave them. This means that publishing houses want them. And bookstores want to sell them. This genre is relevant. This is what I call the real thing.

Do I wish more men took these novels seriously? Of course! Do I think Mr. Putlizer and Mr. National Book Award might want to throw these writers a frickin' bone once in a while? Heck yes!

But right now, I'm just thrilled to know that people are actually reading them. And I'd prefer that these readers have a vagina. Because they're the ones actually going out and buying books.


  1. HERE, HERE!

    yes, yes, yes!

    i don't write women's fiction, but i write YA. and there are a lot of people who don't want to take YA writers seriously.

    but i'd much rather be RELEVANT.

    awesome post.


  2. Great post. I just heard (wish I could remember where) that publishers are figuring out young boys will, in fact, read fiction with a girl MC. That was good news because in the past, I think children's writers often felt compelled to write a "good boy book" or else one that would appeal to girls.

    Maybe there are provable reading preferences tied to gender, but the fact that women's fiction is still not as respected as a serious art form is an important point that merits continued discussion.

  3. Oh, I love women's fiction! And you know, it'll likely be much easier to sell than literary. There's just a bigger market for it. So yay! Literary fiction is great, but it's nice to have something for a wider audience.

  4. *round of applause*

    Well said. I write women's fiction, too, and I've put a lot of thought into the genre and its definition. I particularly liked the line This genre is relevant.

    Best with your agent search! And thanks for visiting my blog. :)