Round and round and round we go! Where we stop, nobody knows!
Yes, I’m rolling my eyes. Not because there’s a question (or a zillion) again as to what constitutes women’s fiction but because the term bothers some writers. Truly? Paris, San Bernadino, Syria, Trump—and THIS is what is getting under people’s skin?
Let’s get this straight. The term Women’s Fiction does not bother readers. Keep that in mind if you’re lamenting that your book falls somewhere under the WF umbrella. Readers don’t care what you call your book, just that they can find it. In a book store (if you remember those), it will likely be filed under — wait — hold onto to hats — FICTION. It will likely be filed ALPHABETICALLY. Online it may pop up under a myriad of bizarre topics including a few that make sense to you.
Authors, agents, and publishers use labels so that they can compare books to one another for the purpose of selling, marketing, advertising, promoting.
To me, women’s fiction is a book that focuses on a woman’s emotional journey. Now, you might say that romance does that. Noperoo. A romance novel’s central quest is the Happily Ever After. That’s the point of the story. It may include a strong thread or six of emotional journeys, but the purpose is the romance.
What’s the purpose of your main character? To find love — or to find a way to allow herself to have love? To meet a great guy — or to be okay enough with herself to meet a great guy?
I don’t mean these things are exclusive of one another, but if your POINT is to have your main character meet a love interest and that’s WHY she needs to fix her life, then I’m thinking it’s romance. If your POINT is that as a byproduct of her goal of fixing her life she just so happens to meet someone, but her goal is to be okay with or without someone — then to me, that would be women’s fiction.
There are also novels that focus on solving mysteries, running from bad guys, saving the world, etc. These might very well have elements found in WF. Genres overlap, friends. Lines blur.
Take note — women’s fiction also centers on friendships, family relationships, and sometimes doesn’t have a romantic interest at all, or it’s way on the back burner. And that is OKAY (usually, for some people/agents/editors and not for others).
I understand why the term “women’s fiction” bothers people. Because if a man writes a story about a family it’s a family drama. If a woman writes it’s women’s fiction or chick lit. But that doesn’t change the fact that my stories appeal to women and that I embrace the WF label because I just do. You do not have to.
Yeah, I know. There’s no “men’s fiction.” I don’t care. This is what I write, and I write knowing and loving that my stories appeal to women. I read widely — but this is what I write. Sometimes I’m made to feel as if I should feel badly about it. Like unless I pen a literary tome that it’s not enough. And it is.
Enough that is.
I do realize that “the others” (meaning non-writers) have no idea what women’s fiction means, nor should they. So if asked what I write I sometimes say family drama with humor, or book club type books, or stories about women and children. No reader wants you to say what you’d say at a pitch meeting.
Really, readers only care what the story’s about, not what you call it. That doesn’t make them run out to the bookstore, big box store, or tap their app to buy the ebook.
Stop worrying so much about what it’s called and just write a really good book. Find a kickass agent who sells to a great publisher. Or do it all yourself. Whatever floats your writer boat is what you should do and it should all lead to YOU writing a really good book.
Believe me, once you do, you’ll have plenty of other things to worry about.
PS THE GOOD NEIGHBOR makes a great holiday gift for your favorite neighbor! Fewer calories than that tin of cookies! Just sayin’…