Thursday, May 2, 2019

Publishers Marketplace got back to me... and I am SO glad I asked.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

No literary fiction, PM?

The Search Deals section on Publishers Marketplace. Wherefore art thou "Literary"?

I recently purchased a Publishers Marketplace subscription at the urging of my friend Alana. It's quite an education, and I recommend it for all authors. Even if you only pay for one month, which is what I'm doing (for $25), you can discover much about the business side of publishing. I'm learning about literary agents and their deals, and which editors are buying what, all that stuff. Some authors don't want to know about this side of things, but I think it's important to be as informed as possible without losing my mind.

A few surprising things, especially in PM's Search Deals section. That "Women's" is still a category enrages me and will never stop enraging me, and I have no idea what "New Adult" means. Also, I find it fascinating that "debut" is considered a category unto itself.

Most strangely to me is that there is no category for "Literary." Why, PM, why? I'd bet that 1000 agents in Canada, the US and the UK combined represent literary fiction and explicitly call for it in their agency bios -- I certainly queried nearly 80 or so of them when I was agent-searching for my first novel. But still... "literary" doesn't have a category? I'm assuming it is relegated to the "general/other" category, which feels alienating to me. Who am I on PM? An Other? A General? There is a proper essay here somewhere but I'm too tired to write it.

I take this personally, as my first book was literary fiction and my second is a literary thriller. MFA programs must take this personally, too, since they graduate thousands of "literary" fiction writers every year. But the lack of this category on PM serves as further evidence to what I've always known: that literary fiction as a category is problematic. Many assume it to be hard to define, plotless, obnoxious, navel-gazing, grandiose, a sales killer... and it's been called worse. But it is a category that is widely used -- AND OH BY THE WAY IT IS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE GREATEST BOOKS OF ALL TIME -- so why not in Publishers Marketplace?

UPDATE: After I published this post, I remembered that I, in fact, have agency and that PM, in fact, has a "Contact Us" tab on their website. I shall query them directly and report back to the blog.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Publishers Marketplace got back to me and their response made me laugh out loud.
"At the end of the day 'literary' is too squishy when it comes to fiction for a formal database. Note that there's no "literary section" in the store. Essentially, you will find literary fiction primarily in debut (from which most genre debuts are not included) and general/other."