Posts Tagged ‘marketing’


Chick Lit: A question unto itself?

November 2, 2011

You know you’re emerging from an unproductive period when you find yourself arguing internally about whether or not to blog a link that has been sitting on your desktop for a month. Er, right. Never mind. This isn’t about me.

Rather, let us start with Roxanne Gay, who tries to scrabble together an overview of a question that recently rippled through the publishing world:

Polly Courtney's "It's a Man's World"When you write a book with the title It’s A Man’s World, with the tagline “but it takes a woman to run it,” you have to have some sense that your book is going to be marketed in a certain way. I haven’t read the book in question, but the title certainly gives an impression. Maybe it’s just me but when I see that title, I think “chick lit.” I also enjoy “chick lit,” so that label is not a bad thing. That book’s author, Polly Courtney, recently had a very public reaction to how her book was being marketed as “chick-lit,” announcing she was leaving her publisher, Harper Collins, so her writing wouldn’t be pigeonholed. As writers, we often have to worry about whether or not our work will be pigeonholed based on some aspect of our identity. No one wants their creativity limited or misrepresented; pushing back against rigid, often unfair categories is a natural response for a creative person.

In her explanation for why she was leaving her publisher, Courtney distinguishes between women’s fiction, which she writes, and “chick lit,” which she very much does not. I gather that women’s fiction is serious while “chick lit” is not. She writes, “Don’t get me wrong; chick-lit is a worthy sub-genre and there is absolutely a place for it on the shelves. Some publishers, mine included, are very successful at marketing this genre to women. The problem comes when non-chick lit content is shoe-horned into a frilly “chick-lit” package. Everyone is then disappointed: the author, for seeing his or her work portrayed as such; the readers, for finding there is too much substance in the plot; and the passers-by, who might actually have enjoyed the contents but dismissed the book on the grounds of its frivolous cover.”

Depending on the content of the book in question, Courtney is correct in noting that disappointment is possible for everyone involved in the consumption of a book. At the same time, isn’t a cover is just a cover? Eventually, the writing speaks for itself and either readers will like the work or they won’t. Readers are fairly sophisticated these days, aren’t they? I would like to believe readers will, more often than not, have a good sense of what a book is or isn’t about no matter what is emblazoned across the cover. Unfortunately, such does not seem to be the case and certain books are burdened by covers that alienate certain audiences.

For her own part, Polly Courtney explained the decision to leave HarperCollins in The Guardian:

The term “women’s fiction” has been adopted by publishers and retailers alike as a shorthand for fiction that involves shopping sprees, bodily insecurities and the hunt for Mr Right. No – hang on. That’s “chick lit”, isn’t it?

This is the problem. The line that used to define “chick lit” as a sub-genre of women’s fiction has blurred, giving publishers the authority to brand huge swathes of fiction in pink and green swirly covers, on the assumption that this is what women want. As Margaret Carroll, a fellow ex-HarperCollins author, put it: “Very ironic to find this is an industry run by women.”

I do not labour under any illusion; my novels are not literary masterpieces – but nor are they chick-lit. So, you may ask, why did I sign with an imprint that specialises in high-volume commercial fiction? The answer to this lies in the way that we are trained, as authors, to believe that even so much as a glance from a traditional publishing house is an honour and a privilege. They are the experts. They know more about books than the authors do themselves. We should be grateful that a prestigious publishing house will give us the time of day. It is like a gift from God when a book deal lands in our lap.

I don’t know, so I’ll leave it to everyone else to figure out. Read the rest of this entry ?


Inspiring End of Publishing

March 16, 2010



Marketing the Muse: The Query Letter

February 3, 2009

Author/editor Marla Miller returns to the San Diego conference with her popular query letter troubleshooting workshop, “Pitch it to Me: Let’s Fix Your Book Pitch.” To give you a taste, see her in action in the above video we shot at last year’s event in Irvine.



KYSL SD23: Maralys Wills

January 30, 2009

Know Your Session Leaders ….

Marlys Wills has something like a dozen titles to her name, including Scatterpath, A Circus Without Elephants, Clown in the Trunk, Higher Than Eagles: The Tragedy and Triumph of an American Family, and Damn the Rejections: Full Speed Ahead.

Additionally, Ms. Wills has over two decades’ experience teaching students about writing, and even received a Teacher of the Year award in 2000. She has presented many seminars, including a gaggle of colleges and universities around southern California, and has served as president of the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America.

She will be presenting for us two workshops, “Masculizing Your Book for the Male Market” and “Tweaking: Making the Difference Between Good and Published“.



Diary of a Debut Author video

May 19, 2008

There’s nothing like getting your first book published — except maybe getting your second, third and fourth book published. ‘Tween author Jessica Burkhart’s debut novel, Take the Reins, isn’t out from Aladdin ’til January ’09. But prolific blogger she is, and quite generous with sharing her writer’s journey, this little video she posted should serve to remind every emerging author that there’s nothing quite like the sweet smell of validation (except maybe The Call from your agent).



Aggregating the author… Book Launch 2.0

May 19, 2008

Author Dennis Cass’ debut title, Head Case: How I Almost Lost My Mind Trying to Understand My Brain, came out hardcover from HarperCollins February of last year. The paperback release was March of ’08. In this amusing viral vid he did, lies a lesson for us all…



Aggregating the author… and The Google

May 8, 2008

At the end of the day, the reality every new author faces — even established mid-list and best-selling authors — is self-promotion. Getting the word out about their book. Branding their name. Driving eyeballs to a website that ultimately motivates readers to buy their product… it’s tough, hard work. Time consuming and rife with such brain damage as to mandate major pharmaceuticals, the bottom line is that, at least for most writers, shameless self-promotion is a creepily uncomfortable task.

But unfortunately, punching a hole through the cacophony of digital distraction that is today’s transmedia marketing world in effort to glean attention for one book, among the nearly 100,000 titles published each year in the U.S., is pretty much what every author seeking some calculable measure of success must do. And since author marketing strategies is something I want to address more substantively on this blog, I thought the below piece by SCWC*LA6’s Andrew Peterson (First to Kill) might make for a good kick-off:

Read the rest of this entry ?


Marketing the Muse with Marla Miller

February 19, 2008

Longtime SCWC staffer, author & editor extraordinaire Marla Miller once again floored the crowd with her workshop on honing an author’s “book pitch” for market. For those who want to know a whole lot more, visit Marla’s site,, where she addresses the myriad aspects of writing for publication.



Author-produced Webisodes for novel launch

December 31, 2007

The Ticker GameWith her gripping new thriller, The Ticker Game, in bookstores January 8th, author (and just added SD22 Sunday morning speaker) Susan Arnout Smith devised a series of “webisodes” introducing its characters five years before the start of the novel. Pretty clever author-marketing, I’d say. There’s 11 so far. Watch them all at and see what you think.