For writers seeking a genre, the path ahead is lit
Richard Glover, Spectrum, Sydney Morning Herald, May 21, 2011
Came across this piece while in Sydney for the Writers Festival last month and thought you might enjoy it. It made me chuckle.
Illustration: Simon Letch
It's the Sydney Writers' Festival and many young people are wondering how to break into writing so they can have the experience of jet-setting around the world and being mobbed by grateful readers. Well, it's not good enough to just write a book; these days publishers will only consider something if it fits into an already successful genre. The tendency began with the genre called "chick lit", which was invented in June 1995, when writer Helen Fielding noticed that her underpants were quite large. The effect was so startling in terms of book sales, the industry committed itself to only publishing chick lit, or books from genres that at least sounded like "chick lit". Just choose the genre that best suits your style of writing and the invitation to the free drinks won't be long coming.
Quick lit Modern printing techniques now allow the production of news-related books within minutes of an event occurring. Only a fortnight ago, when Osama bin Laden's body was still sinking, scores of publishers were already pressing the "print" button. Of course, a book that has taken less than three hours to write may lack a little in the quality department but you'll be wowed by the speed. Personally, I'm now busy working on some follow-up books: The Navy Seal Diet Plan; The Navy Seal Exercise Plan; The Navy Seal Cook Book; and Osama's Big Book of Porn. I'm planning on publishing tomorrow; what about you? Click lit This is a genre featuring books about the internet, all of them claiming the internet is about to kill off the publishing industry. It's a curious fact that the publishing industry would have died years ago were it not for the publication of thousands of books on the topic of how books are about to die. Sick lit Crime books about ghastly murders, paedophilic if possible, in which whole chapters are dedicated to describing the crime, the state of the decaying body and grisly process of the autopsy. No way is this sick and prurient; it's just that the central character happens to be a police pathologist and the author wants to be accurate. Dick lit Airport thrillers written fora male audience in whichcommandos, submarine officers or undercover spies save the day through acts of swaggering derring-do. Crucially, something hasto explode, sink or crash in thecourse of every page or, if possible,sentence.
Flick lit Any coffee-table book with lots of pictures and hardly any text, designed for people to flick through so they can feel cultured without having to actually expend any mental effort.