As an aspiring author, my biggest goal is to be traditionally published. I jumped into my first novel with blissful naivete that allowed me to write freely. I wasn’t thinking about popular genres, or how agents would react to my writing. I knew I had a great story and I was excited to tell it.
Fast forward a year later. I’d learned a few lessons:
1. I could not call my novel “chick lit.” This was strictly verboten.
2. The witty women’s fiction I knew and loved was being overshadowed by her younger, sexier sister, YA. The pink sparkle had faded, and publishers didn’t want it anymore.
Still, I gleaned everything I could from industry websites and revised my novel and query letter until they were in top shape. I compiled an excel spreadsheet of agents representing women’s fiction and followed each person’s submission guidelines to a T. Defeated after nine months of querying, I made the decision to set my novel aside. It was time to move on to a second book.
That second book is also women’s fiction and I’m a little bit scared. After reading articles like this one I wonder if I’m making a mistake. If readers truly have fallen out of love with chick lit, I shouldn’t be writing it. But aren’t we supposed to write from the heart? Nothing else resonates with me like real women’s issues. I’m not talking about stilettos and hangovers, but domestic abuse, motherhood and relationship tensions, as illustrated by Marian Keyes and Jennifer Weiner.
Literary agent Jessica Faust at BookEnds urges against switching genres on her blog. She writes,”While you might find it fun to switch things up from book to book, most readers are fairly loyal to what they read. In other words, few fantasy readers will happily jump to chick lit with enthusiasm. Let’s face it, most readers read within a few specific genres.”
But Jessica is talking about published authors building a platform. What about aspiring authors still trying to get an agent? I know writers so discouraged by the query process, they switched genres hoping for better luck. And I don’t blame them. But I think the most important thing is to write what you’re passionate about. We can’t predict that will become popular next, and shouldn’t try. So I’m going to take the plunge a second time, hoping that just maybe pink covers will come back in style.