As you might surmise from the title of this blog, and because many of you know me by now, I embrace the term women’s fiction. I understand that agents and editors need an idea of what they might be getting from an author, that everyone specializes nowadays, that there are categories and bookshelves (wooden, plastic, virtual) and there needs to be some kind of system, albeit flawed.
But I also don’t mind the label because I WRITE MY BOOKS FOR WOMEN.
Yes, there were men who read The Glass Wives. I think there were six or eight of them (okay, maybe five) and only one or two were related to me. This didn’t bother me at all. Not a smidgen.
I write my books to tell myself a story I don’t yet know, but that I want to know. As the process continues I begin to think about readers, what readers need to engage with my story and make it their own. Those readers I think of are always women. My main characters are women and they’re interacting, mostly, with and because of, other women.
See how that works?
I like my feminine book covers. The only thing I ever said about book covers to my editor was that I felt strongly that my covers represented the tone of what was inside the book. And they do.
Now don’t get me wrong. There is part of this women-in-publishing uproar I understand and support.
Fact: There is no “men’s fiction” label or category, and books by men about families or relationships are filed under domestic dramas, literary, or general fiction, even if the main character is a woman. That’s wrong, and many are working to change that. Some are working to make sure it doesn’t change.
Fact: Fewer books by women are reviewed, awarded, and recognized by the industry. That’s wrong too. Especially–or perhaps only–when the books written by women really ARE gender neutral and could have mass appeal if not marketed specifically to women.
The problem, as I see it, isn’t writing for women and being proud to do so without reservation and WITH great book covers, the problem is when it is assumed that all books written by women are for women only.
That’s the issue.
It’s okay if you’re a woman and your books appeal to the general public. So it has to be ok if you’re a woman and your books are meant to appeal to women.
There are many people/Tweeters/FBers/writers who explode at the thought of a feminine book cover or women’s fiction label. It’s wrong, they type in all CAPS and BOLD. DON’T FEMININE BOOK COVERS MAKE YOU MAD? WHAT ABOUT PRETTY AUTHOR PHOTOS? AARGH! BOO! HISS!
I don’t know about you, but I do not want to look like a dude in my author photo.
It might be wrong for some, but lipstick and good lighting are right for me.
I want to write books about women that appeal to women. I’m not doing this by accident. It’s intentional as much as it’s organic. Those are the stories of my heart, and those are the only ones I can write. Those are the only ones that keep me up at night, keep me revising a paragraph until my words say precisely what I mean for them to say in precisely the way I mean them to. And with the right cadence. I did it just this morning with the last paragraph of my next novel (not done yet, but when the last paragraph presents itself, you write it).
So while I might resent the fact that women’s fiction gets eye-rolls and shrugs and some people (women) I know say they don’t read “those kinds” of books (what? about PEOPLE?). I say, too bad. Or at least I say it in my head. And I move on.
Not only do you need a thick skin in this business, but a resilient heart.
What I don’t want is to be pigeon-holed, especially by other women, into believing that my stories for women are wrong, that I shouldn’t be writing with only women in mind.
Because that’s wrong too.
When and if I write a book that I believe appeals to a non-gender specific reading public, I’ll jump the fence—right over—while holding my skirt high in the air, so I don’t fall on my face and smear my lipstick.
Until then, I’m over it.
You should be too.