Do authors need a USP, a new genre or just some interesting buzz about them in order to get ahead?
We all remember the stories about how JK Rowling allegedly started writing Harry Potter in cafés in order to save on her heating bill. You might also recall how Martina Cole was living in a council flat when she was offered a historic advance for her first novel. Great stories, right? The kind that attract attention.
More recently, the new buzzword ‘mummy porn’ is on everyone’s lips as EL James’s book Fifty Shades Of Grey takes the publishing world by storm. A year or so ago ‘chick noir,’ “chick lit’s bigger, badder sister”, (think Jane Fallon) was the trendy new sub-genre attracting all the attention.
Every time I read something like this I start wracking my brains as to what cool and catchy genre name I could stamp on my novels, or what juicy little factoids I could use to spice up my author biog. I wrack and I wrack and I wrack. And still nothing comes.
Genres. So far my two beach reads have got off to a good start on Amazon. But ‘beach read’ is hardly a catchy genre name. Nor is holiday read, summer read and especially not airport novel. Apparently ‘romcom’ is an outdated term, or so I read recently. I once came up with plage-turner, which I thought was rather clever for all of five seconds until my husband pointed out that, for those who don’t speak French, plage looks more like plague spelled wrong. (And besides, both novels are set on Greek islands, not the French Riviera.)
I also came up with soap lit, as my novels are told from the viewpoints of several characters, rather than just one or two. But what image does soap lit conjure up? A ten-book saga set in the East End of London with more characters than you can shake a pound of spuds at?
Beach lit, chick lit with balls, summer sizzlers, feel-good fiction…I am still working on this and will shout if I ever hit the jackpot. As for some staggeringly fascinating fact to make my author biog more gripping than my books, I have dug deep and come up with these inconsequential crumbs.
“She is the daughter of a Buddhist and an aethiest. (Divorced but on good terms.) Her dad is half-French and the nephew of famous Corsican bandit Nonce Romanetti. (Who? Never mind.) Her husband is a graphic designer. (The National Lottery logo? Well, that was him.) Her brother and cousin are Icarus. (But all you avant garde drum’n’bass fans already knew that.) Before training as a sub-editor she worked as a shop assistant, receptionist and secretary. Zzzz. Hello? You still there? Oh, and once, when she worked in a pub, she loudly mistook 80s popstar Nick Heyward for 80s popstar Nik Kershaw. (He took it very well.)”
Barrel well and truly scraped.
Probably the most interesting thing about me is that I’ve written four novels, (two of which are on Amazon, the other two I’m still debating uploading), and I’m half-way through a fifth. And I’ve got through two-and-a-half literary agents without a publisher in sight. Yet this information could work as much against me as it could for me, as some might choose to see a pattern of failure in my writing journey, rather than a pattern of near success and bad luck.
Anyway, all this is by the by. Once I’ve executed Operation Bonza-biog (streaking at the 2012 Olympics trailing a beach towel behind me with the words ‘Once upon a time in Greece’ on them), all my problems will be solved. Flasher fiction perhaps?