Episode 010 | Commercial vs. Upmarket vs. Literary


hey everybody welcome to episode ten of the rookie writer show today we're gonna be talking about sales categories in specifically commercial vs upmarket vs literary so again again i'm gonna dive right into it like i always did in the first two episodes of the who what category we've spent some time thinking about whether we want it to be what kind of writer we want to be do we wanna be 'em professional writer an amateur writer or hobbyist where we sort of in the pre writer dreamer stage and we end the next episode we looked at what kinds of stories we might wanna tell like 'em occasion unra basically and today what we're gonna do israeli demystify sales categories and get a sense of where are books might land in these three large groupings here's the cool thing to know you only need the care about these sales categories if you want to be a professional or an amateur writer because they are essentially tools to help communicate what kinds of stories you're writing to agents or audiences so if you're looking to be traditionally published then you need to be able communicate agents and editors at publishing houses this is what i write if you're looking to be nb published then you need to be able to communicate directly treaters hey this is what i right so if you're not looking to be a professional or amateur writer you don't have to worry about these at all if you're just looking to be a hobbyist or if you're still in the preliminary stage where you're just kind of dreaming about maybe someday i wanna be writer you can kind of put those in the back of your mind in case it ever transitions into a situation where you would like to start submitting things either to agents or out into the public but if it's just for you or if it's just for a small community related to you you don't have to worry about these sales categories at all on my website the rookie writer dot net you'll find on the show notes for this page a really fantastic stick info graphic put together by ps literary agency that has in a release the sink in visual way a great way of demonstrating the basic characteristics of literary fiction upmarket fiction end 'em commercials fiction and examples within each of those i'm going to just run through them verbally but i urge you to go and take a look at this it's a it's a really well done graphic okay we're gonna start with literary fiction literary fiction tends to be very oriented towards art end it is looking to question some of the things and the prevailing culture it's asks a lot of the reader to in terms of filling in the blanks or inferring things there's a lot of times if he endings are very clear or satisfying for the reader they play with structure a lot they play with their with language a lot it's a very innovative and they're very comfortable taking risks they contend to be a little slower paced and a little bit more focused on the interior already of the character versus the events happened outside or to the character next i'm gonna actually cut to commercial fiction commercial fiction is at the other end of the spectrum in books it fit into this category they aim is much more entertainment the author does a lot of the work for the reader laying out these events of the story in a way that doesn't require the reader to infer as much or the filling in the blanks the writing tends to be a little more fast paced while they're still lots of character development within these stories the distinct inferiority might not be explored quite as much but it won't be explored as much as it is with literary fiction 'em you opt in has a very satisfying ending the end readers have come to expect that from commercial fiction 'em unless it's part of a series it tends to tie up all the questions that it that it laid out throughout the story it reaches very broad audiences and this is where you're gonna find things like mystery and romance in size fi and fantasy and thrillers in westerns it's all the genres for the most part tend to gravitate towards commercial fiction there is hearing there a few examples of genre books that have have gone into that are categories more as literary fiction but for the most part this is where genre lives in commercial fiction the third category is upmarket fiction and that's where the other two to sales categories meet in the middle it tends to have a lot of the same characteristics of commercials fiction it has a broad audience it tends to be a little faster paced it tends to tie up 'em the questions instead it lays out in the story so you don't have to guess ending irby confused by it or those sorts of things but it elevates the language in the themes in gets a little deeper into the interior already the character's than a lot lot of the the commercials fiction does books in an upmarket fiction category will gravitate towards universal themes that people can relate to in their own lies but the lend themselves to discussion so this is where you're gonna find you're club a book for the most part one of the things that you should know about these different categories is did they oftentimes go by other names literary almost always just goes by literary so that one's easy commercials marshall fiction can also be known as popular fiction or nonfiction and some of these authors and those are the ones that you're gonna know they're gonna be the things that you see in the in the wine while you're waiting at the grocery store 'em it's it'd be the james patterson the written or roberts the dan brown's that kind of thing the upmarket sales category is sometimes also known as mainstream fiction or crossover fiction or book club diction if you see any of those that means upmarket market some sample authors from this might be celeste eating elmore leonard gillian flynn 'em they ten again to blend art and entertainment and you're gonna see these at your book club meetings literary always goes i literary it very much focuses on art and culture and these you're gonna see in class is an on lists for the peel it's there in the booker and things like that if these concepts these sales categories were applied to to fashion just as a way to kind of understand there's a little bit more if this was related to the world of fashion then commercials fiction would be your favorite local malls mainstream stores market fiction would be like the local boutiques or the stores at the fancy mall whatever you're fancy mollis andy literary fiction would be more like new york fashion week i think i forgot to lift off sample authors of this but you know them it's the toni morrison's the colson whitehead's the donna tarts what's interesting to me was when i did a little research on this there was a report on the number of agents seeking books and the different categories end you would think that commercial fiction would actually have be most agents looking for actively looking for books and those cat in that sales category but the truth is 'em as of twenty nineteen there about two hundred ninety five agents actively looking for four books if it these categories like i mean sorry the sales category of commercial fiction there's about sixty three agents actively expressly looking for books that fifty upmarket district description and what was interesting to me would sit there are four hundred and twenty nine agents which is by far the largest number looking for literary fiction so one thing that i think lends itself to 'em explaining this is that for the most part literary fiction is still published almost exclusively through traditional puff publishing methods so that is just say that if you want to publish a literary fiction book the odds are that you are doing it with an agent and through traditional publisher or a small smaller publisher whereas if you're writing commercial fiction there's a decent and chance that you might be looking at c n b publishing pass so that is where i think the discrepancy there might be if i had to guess i think it's interesting that there's so few agents actively looking for up market despite the fact that from everything that i read it's kind of a sweet spot for especially traditional publishers and i v only way i can kind of understand that and if someone knows better please let me know 'cause i think this is interesting topic 'em my best guess is that when agents put out literary but they're looking for literary a lot of times they will be very very very happy to get up market as well so because upmarket k a mainstream fiction jk crossover fiction jk book club fiction is something that people don't really always understand i i think that in some cases they might just not wanna mess with it as part of their profile but again if you know please reach out to me and let me know and and i kind of understand how this might make sense okay which sales category should you should for and the answer is as close as you're bookshelf what do you like to reid what is it you're actually drawn to what is it that you can't wait to get your hands on when it comes when it's released what authors are the ones that you watch out just see when they when they released a new book what do you love to write whatever you love to write in whatever you love to reid that is the sales category that you should be shooting for one of the things that i found was an article by any new power i think it is she does a good job it's called the differences between commercial and literary fiction and again the link is on the show notes on the on the web page she offers examples of books have similar topics in storylines but they're done with different underlying approaches that puts them into three different sales categories and all three are books are accomplished by accomplished authors that have done well they all have plots they're heavy on suspense and intrigue but just the way that they wrote them when whether it went along with the expectations tation of genre for instance or to the degree to which it answered all the questions at the end or the way it played with language determined where if it on the shelf so she gave examples of a commercial example would be loves music love to dance by mary hagans clark a literary example would be pale fire by vladimir nabokov an upmarket example would be rebecca by daphne demane each of these books is well done critically or commercially acclaimed or boat and yet they all fall indifferent sales categories there is no sales category this better than any others it is literally just the way that they percent in group books that have things in common so that at readers know what they're getting an are satisfied with experience now the role the motivation we touched on this a little bit already you should write the books that you liked her reid did she liked to right but one thing that i think is kind of note worthy is depending on what you're what you're motivations are and we looked at this a good bit and episode three which is one of the why episodes i have six different motivators the people often have as reasons for why they want to write and most people don't have just one but in fact a combination of several of them depending on what dominates your motivating equation let's say there there are different sales categories and types of books that might actually better fit your motivations that might sound confusing let me try another way okay i'm just gonna dig in and give you examples if for instance that's your primary motivator for writing books is itchy wanna get a message out about a specific topic her issue than any of the katter sales categories could be a good fit for you there's never any wrong category had a gory for you but perhaps the best fit might be an upmarket book because they tend to be focused on inspiring discussion and relating to issues in people's wives and so because upmarket books tend ten to fit that category that if you are looking to promote a message that might be a good sales category for you to import if for instance you are most motivated by entertaining an audience lifting them out of their data day 'em problems and issues and just whisking them along on a story then you might want to look at commercial because that is the category that tends to value entertainment over any any sort of other aspects of the story they just want to tell a good story whisks somebody away they don't necessarily need them to think heavily about the story liner have a tons of tons of questions about it or any of these issues laid out they really really want that to be something that just gives them a wrist spite from their daily chores and toils if however what you are think you're motivated by you're audience in that you would like to challenge them intellectually early if you would like the challenge the prevailing culture then you might be looking at litter areas a better fit for you because that there's a lot of room for playing with a structure in the language in a way that really that really pushes people to state in different ways and they have before about a different topic endorsed starts a conversation with in the culture is your primary motivation is to be recognized then it depends on how you wanna be recognized if you want to win one of the big prize is that people always refer to like the nobel prize for literature the or the peel it there or the booker or things like that you then those are almost exclusively awarded to literary novels if however you would be equally happy being recognized fear contributions to a specific genre than all of the major genres have major awards like the rita worthy edgar i'm blanking on this i've i went i can't think of her right now but they all have major awards at the gate within the john ra for the best new books from that year the best in a category the best overall contribution to the genre there's lots of opportunities within commercial fiction is well to be recognized for you're work an obviously upmarket sort of has opportunities across both sides so that's kind of a cool thing if your primary motivator is money than commercials fiction tends to reach the widest audience is especially in the best selling genres so if money is a major motivator than you might think about exploring your interests in commercial fiction however if you only reload hurry novels where you only reed of market novels and you just really think that the only only way to make any money is by writing in selling commercial novels please let me disabuse you of that notion there's so many examples that find the face of that assumption you should write the books that you love and the books that are like the books you reid you can find a market an area of recognition end away to raise issues and a way to explore new things within our culture and challenger readers and any and all these categories it's just that some of them the sales categories lend themselves a little bit more to specific aspects of that one cool thing is if you were motivated by the passion of just simply writing or the challenge of finishing a book all of these sales categories equally meter needs remember first and foremost always always reid reid and write the books that you love these are simply tools that once you have written the book that you love their tools to give you a way to get those books into the right hand so the people can reach them and love them as much as you do so that is my episode on demystifying sales categories if you like this episode please think about subscribing and i love comments on i tunes and elsewhere good or bad i like to know what's working and what isn't you're also free to email me directly at the rookie writer at g mail dot com please consider swinging by the rookie writer that's the rookie writer

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