Platform, platform, platform. We hear it all the time--from agents, from editors, from publicists, from other writers both published and unpublished.
"Develop a readership and a base so your novel will be successful," we are told. "Create a web presence and name recognition." So, we haunt forums and writer groups. We create a blog...or three, and then we stick our foot--or keyboard as it were--right in our mouth.
Yep. You guessed it! I'm about to launch into one of my soapbox-worthy didactic posts about online etiquette. I'm from the South, you see, so I consider myself an expert, not only on etiquette, but on discrimination, which is the topic of today's rant. (Perhaps I'm not an expert and it just bugs me more than most. *wink*)
The point I'd like to make is that regardless of how negative you feel about a particular genre, keep in mind that other people at a dinner party, in an elevator, in your blog readership, on a writers' forum or loop, or even an agent (who liked your full and decided to check out your blog) might be of a different opinion. The very books you are calling trash might be their favorite thing to read.
I'm not saying you have to like every literary genre any more than I'm saying you have to like every genre of music, but if you are trying to promote yourself as a writer and build a platform, alienating loads of potential fans is not a wise choice.
When an essay called "I'm YA and I'm Okay" came out in the New York Times in July of 2008, YA writers all over the blogosphere spoke out on the subject of genre prejudice, including my friend, Tera Lynn Childs, 2009 Rita Award wining author of Oh. My. Gods.
On her blog, Tera Lynn wrote:
So, for those of you living in a blissfully unaware state where books are either good or eligible for use as a table-leveling device, here's a breakdown of the relative social prestige of various genres.1. Literary2. Commercial fiction which is not romance3. Young adult/children's4 Romance
There is a similar pecking order in all of the arts. Vocal music spans opera to rap. Theatre likewise has discrimination from within. One of the reasons I like Tera Lynn so much is we both come from theatre backgrounds, so this kind of prejudice isn't new to us. Tera Lynn sums it up this way:
I would like to say this apparent need to belittle others is restricted to the field of literature, but coming from a theatrical family, I know this is a widespread problem. Legitimate theatre is more respectable than musical theatre. Off-Broadway is better than Broadway. Off-off Broadway is better than both. Budgetless, cutting edge, avant garde theatre that either puts people to sleep or assures they never want to attend the theatre again is the best of all.
Just who decided that popular necessarily equals devoid of value?
Keep in mind that people read for different reasons. People also write for different reasons. I'm going to address genre prejudice in more depth in my next post, but for now, I just want to shout from my soapbox that it is a bad idea to allow genre prejudice to alienate potential readers or business associates in an industry this difficult to break into. Yes, we have the right to our opinions. We have the right to shout them from the housetops or hammer them out on our keyboards wherever we wish. Having the right, and it being the right thing to do is entirely different.
I will now get down from my soapbox and try to do so without breaking my ankle. Have a great week!