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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Blog Tour Piñata

Liz Fichera and I decided to swap blogs today. I'm over at her place with a punch list on how to set up your very own blog tour, and she's over here discussing lit fiction vs commercial fiction.

Come visit me over at Liz's place where we can kick that blog tour monster like a piñata. Then leave me a comment with your rants and observations. Blog tours are the drunk uncles none of us want to talk about. What can we do to make them less painful?

But now that you're here, hang around a bit and visit with Liz Fichera. Today, she's talking about the inequity of press between lit fiction and commercial.

Let's give Liz a warm welcome!


Literary Fiction is From Mars, 
Commercial Fiction is From Venus

It's always perplexed me why books written by women authors about family and relationships are often classified as commercial fiction or chick lit while books written by men on the same topics often get literary fiction status.   

Chalk this up to one of those life ain’t fair situations—like the five pounds you always gain between Thanksgiving and Christmas—but it is what it is. 

A fairly recent interview with bestselling authors Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner highlighted this issue.  What started out, I think, as a basic complaint (and, frankly, an old complaint) about why commercial fiction is not more widely reviewed (if at all) in mainstream publications like the New York Times turned into a much broader discussion about women's fiction and the role gender plays in literary criticism.   This discussion isn’t new, but it does get dredged up every now and again.  I’m not sure why, exactly, or even who keeps picking at the wound but it’s like the publishing bruise that never completely goes away.

I suppose this will matter to you if (1) You buy books based on what Big Time Reviewers say at Big Time Mainstream Newspapers; (2) Your life won’t be complete until your book is reviewed in a Big Time Mainstream Newspaper; and/or (3) You can clearly tweet the difference between literary fiction and commercial fiction in 140 characters or less.

Interestingly, the books that usually sell best and have the most widespread appeal are those that never get reviewed (or even mentioned) in publications like the New York Times.  Irony, much?  I’d say those authors are having the last laugh, all the way to the bank.  And their readers seem pretty satisfied too, especially since they keep buying their books.

Fair or not?  What do you think? Bonus question: Can you tweet the difference between literary fiction and commercial fiction in 140 characters or less?

About LizLiz Fichera is the author of CAPTIVE SPIRIT, her debut historical romance novel from Carina Press.  CAPTIVE SPIRIT is now also available as an audiobook from  Liz prefers to write about ordinary people who do extraordinary things, oftentimes against the backdrop of Native American legends in the American Southwest.  When she’s not plotting her next novel, you’ll find her on the web dishing about books, writing, or the best brands of chocolate.  Please visit her web site or follow her blog because it can get real lonely in the desert.  Virtual chocolate cupcakes served daily.


Sherri said...

Nice to see you here Liz.

I rarely read reviews because I've found I rarely agree with them. I'll take a friend's word-of-mouth recommendation over a review any day.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Sherri! Great to see you here too. Like you, I rarely read reviews (movies, books, theatre, etc.) mostly because I rarely agree with them. Go figure. :-)

Sondrae Bennett said...

I DO read reviews...and then ignore them and read/see what I want regardless of what they say. The only time I'll pay attention is if I'm completely up in the air (which is pretty rare for me).

Dru said...

The majority of the books I read are not reviewed in the NYT or even on Oprah.

I don't need them, I read what I like.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Sondrae - I've lost count of how many times I've had the exact opposite reaction to a book, movie, play, etc. than from what a reviewer had. But that's the great thing about all of this--beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak.

Hi Dru - me, too! My tastes are pretty un-mainstream.

Cathy in AK said...

Same here with the opposite reactions to book or movie reviews. I used to think it was me, but have come to realize no! it's them! Kidding. Viva la difference!

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Cathy, nice to meet you! I'm beginning to believe that more people think this way about reviews than not. :-)

Lia Bal said...

Hi Liz, I really like the blog swap idea. Very cool.

I don’t read reviews either. I used to check out the books that those big publications like NYT would review but I noticed that the books they would praise I would be bored with. I like what I like, even if the reviews for that suck. I’ve read plenty of books that had terrible reviews and turned out to love the book and vice versa.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Lia - I can't remember the last time I purchased a book based on a NYT review. Glad you like the blog swap!

Joanna St. James said...

I get so carried away when i get to buy books i never stop to read reviews, of course that has come back to bite me in the derriere once but still I just buy a book based on the cover and the blurb.
Dont get me started on the lit fiction snobs I met one of them last week and am not over it yet.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Joanna - I like to read the first few pages, up to the first chapter. If it pulls me in, I'm there for the rest of the ride! Oh, can't wait to hear about your lit fiction snob experience. I've had a few of those myself.

Shelley Munro said...

LOL - in a word - no. I never read literary fiction. I've never seen the attraction and just love genre fiction. As some of the others mentioned, reviews don't influence my buying decisions much.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I hate to say it, but I'm a snob when it comes to literary fiction. I can't stand it. Of course, this might be because my years spent in college exposed me to many people who sneered at commercial (and genre) fiction, which I love. I guess that makes it a reverse sneer... Which sounds freaky.

DEZMOND said...

oh, the cover for CAPTIVE SPIRIT is so gorgeous!

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Shelley - The last bit of literary fiction I read was THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE. I enjoyed it but how is that any different than, say, something from Jodi Picoult?

Hi Barbara - I think we may have had some of the same teachers! ;-) Yeah, I too remember the snide comments. I also don't believe any of them ever got published either, other than college textbook type stuff. Karma.

Hi Dezmond - Me, too! I've been in love with this cover since the moment the Carina Press people showed it to me. They captured the main character in the book perfectly--better than I even imagined!

Linda Leszczuk said...

A good "snob" review is pretty much all it takes to keep me away from some books. I'm quite happy with commercial/genre fiction, thank you very much.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Linda - me, too!

Madeleine said...

Yes that's a good point. I think that is why Mslexia magazine evolved to give women more of a chance to get their stuff published. Very thought provoking post.
I have a guest author interview over at mine for those who do or don't know Annie Sanders. :O)

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Madeleine - thanks for stopping by. I have not heard of Annie. I'll be sure to drop by.