My problem with ‘Genre’…again…

So another year and another round of agent submissions. Pretty much at this same time last year I was sending out my first round of submission to literary agents for my first novel ’The Last Englishman and the Bubble’ (now self-published and available for all! See my last post).
Now a year later I am embarking on that same journey with my second novel: ‘An End of Poppies’.
As you can probably tell that first book didn’t manage to climb anywhere near the top of the ’slush-pile’ and most agents probably either recycled the paper it was printed on or simply pressed ’delete’. The cynical part of me thinks that most of them probably didn’t even read it.
I know that one or two did and the feeling was that although they (kind of) liked it they didn’t know how to market it. It was described as “well written” and “obviously intelligent” but they didn’t know what box to out it in. You would think that has made me disheartened, but no it is quite the opposite, somehow I am more determined.
It all brings me back to one of my pet subjects; the misleading marketing tool of ’genre’.
I suppose it is inevitable that I have to grapple with this problem; often when submitting or when publishing online you have to label your work with it’s genre.
‘The Last Englishman…’ is a Sci Fi book, but I know that it is more than that and that the label ’SF’ may well put readers off if they don’t normally read this kind of book. It is also a romance, a drama, a dystopia and a commentary on existence, love and society. The downside of the label ’SF’ is that it means that many agents/publisher won’t touch it with a barge-pole. Surprising how many specifically say that they publish/work with all kinds of books but NOT science fiction or fantasy (the list usually says NO Science fiction, fantasy or poetry! I feel for you poets out there!).
At least this is not a problem for my new novel. It is perhaps an ’alternate history’; but here again I find that description inadequate. It is an epistolary novel, with romance and war, social commentary and feminism. And it is, I hope, a literary novel.
So what conclusion can I come to? Well, none really. I suppose people have to have some way to pigeon hole things. How else would readers find books? That said I still don’t like the idea of ’genre’, and still feel it misleads and constrains. I certainly don’t want to write in a certain genre because it is marketable. I will continue to write what excites and enthrals me, and hope it does the same for others, whatever it eventually becomes labelled as.
So wish me luck in search of that elusive agent who will fight my corner to find that elusive publisher. Maybe then I can leave the job of ’pigeon-holing’ to them?


Will my novel jump out of the Slush Pile?

© 2013 Simon Poore

The Last Englishman: My First Novel – Available now…

So…I have finally done it. I have published my first novel; The Last Englishman and the Bubble – self published as an ebook – now available to download online.
This book began its journey as my first foray into ‘NaNoWriMo’ (National Novel Writing Month) in November 2011, where its first fifty thousand words came spilling out of my head. I had no idea then whether I could actually write a full length novel or what it would entail.
Since then this book has been through an editing process which included five or more full revisions/re-writes/additions etc. etc.
Over the last year excerpts of it have landed the slush-piles of myriads of agents, simply to face rejection or worse be completely ignored altogether. It has failed to win at least one major competition (and is still waiting on another one).
You might think that I maybe disheartened at this point and wonder why I have decided to publish it myself as an ‘Indie’ ebook. Well there are a number of reasons but let me say I am far from disheartened. My journey is just beginning (aren’t all journeys just beginning? Right now?). This book proved to me that I could actually write a novel. Since then I have written two more (one is unfinished – one chapter to go, the other is nearly edited!), and these books can now do the rounds of agents and publishers.
I don’t want to get into the ‘Traditional’ publishing versus ‘Indie’ publishing debate but let’s just say that the romantic part of me still wants to see a real hardback book with my name on the spine in a real bookshop. One day…
Anyway I am proud that I have come this far and, without wishing to sound vain, I think this book is actually quite good. So please download, have a read and let me know what you think. Leave a review if you like it…I hope you like it…

You can download my book to your ereader (Kindle, iPad etc.) from HERE. It will soon be available from the iBook store, Amazon and other retailers (I will keep you posted). It costs the princely sum of $2.99!
UPDATE: Now available on Amazon UK HERE and AMAZON US HERE…Happy Reading!

The Last Englishman and the Bubble

Is Kris the last man on Earth? He is an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. He types his story as he struggles to understand why he has been left alone. Why does he live in a shack on a lonely Norfolk beach? What happened to the love of his life Samantha? How does he survive alone in a desolate England populated by packs of wild dogs? What event caused everyone to disappear? And ultimately, will Kris die alone with no one to read his story?

© 2013 Simon Poore