Leaving the Litfic Category Behind?

by | Aug 20, 2018 | Articles | 1 comment

Today’s blog is NOT an advertisement for products or services I offer. However, I do want to extend an invitation to join my email newsletter list to get content that’s (mostly) not available elsewhere.

One thing about the author life that never fails to entertain is the endless ways experts suggest that we “enroll” our readers. It changes constantly and, well, that can be a little frustrating.

Here’s the bottom line for me: I started out writing for myself. Over a period of about 25 years, I wrote three standalone novels. I can state without hesitation that I put everything I had into those books—creating the greatest works of art I could, while still telling those stories in the best, most engaging way I could.

The results—Brothers’ HandJana, and Miles of Files—have gotten mostly great reviews, and a couple not so great ones. I’m still extremely proud of the books. Reviewers have used adjectives like radiant, engaging, riveting, masterful, evocative, and captivating when writing about my novels. I’m happy with that.

But now that I’m putting out my fourth novel, I’d love to find a larger group of enthusiastic readers. And because I want to deliver a book that many more readers will want, I’m asking for your help.

Not too many people comment on these blog posts, but even fewer send personal responses to my email newsletter. I’d love to hear from more of you, and that means I’m open to suggestions.

The new book, Whizzers, promises to be a much different project than my other three novels. I still don’t know what to call it. Lately I’ve been shying away from the term literary fiction—for a couple reasons.

First, litfic just isn’t popular like it once was. Contemporary, or even general, fiction might be a better way to categorize forthcoming works.

Secondly, when it comes to this new project, I’m still not sure what subcategories on Amazon I’ll use. Honestly, I’m going to be looking for feedback from readers and fellow authors.

The book has a time travel aspect to it, but I wouldn’t call it science fiction. What the heck is it, you ask? That’s the dilemma: does it get subcategorized as Metaphysical & Visionary Fiction? As Action & Adventure Literary Fiction > Literature & Fiction > Fiction > Time Travel? Probably, but you see where I’m going here. It’s not easy to categorize.

So this week I’m posting a little excerpt that I sent out in a newsletter. It’s not here for the purpose of asking for help with sub-categorization; simply looking to get feedback, see if people find it intriguing, and so on. The sub-categorization issue will wait for another day.

As I said, I’d love to hear from more of you, especially with any comments on the excerpt below, good or bad. I’m not work-shopping the novel through a group, so this is the place for feedback from readers and potential readers. And as always, thanks for stopping by!

Off I go into the night, looking back occasionally at what turns out to be a kind of small cottage. I wonder where I am, where I should be going. If I get lost, I have no idea how to get back to where I am now. But there is not a soul in sight to ask—only the moonlight to guide me. There was no moonlight before, only that foreboding blackness, and I wonder what’s been orchestrated here. Now that I think about it, it seems to me that the moonlight did not appear until I lit a candle, or at least until I left the cottage. I call it a cottage, not knowing what the place really was.

I look back and notice the cottage disappearing in fog. I’m still frightened. What if I can’t find my way back? I decide to return for at least a moment, get my bearings better, if possible. It feels uncomfortable but I do it anyway.

The fog begins to dissipate as I draw nearer to the cottage. I blink, shaking my head, almost unsurprised. The cottage is gone.

Which way can I possibly go now? Lost and alone at night, in a strange place, in a strange time, with strange clothes? And yet the feeling of desolation is not as overwhelming as it could be. I feel almost encouraged to know I truly must find my own way now. Nowhere to hide. No one to ask for guidance.

maintenance

Closed For Maintenance: Me

Here comes the upfront apology for blog subscribers: I got nothing this week. It's not that I've got nothing to say. As anyone who knows me is well aware, I never, ever run out of things to say. Even my lovely wife has occasionally let me know, in relatively gentle...
advance reader copy

Does An ARC Have to Include A Cover Illustration?

One of the most confusing concepts in publishing is that of the Advance Reader Copy, or ARC. I call it confusing because there appears to be no universal agreement on what those initials actually mean. While some sources refer to an ARC as an Advance Reader Copy,...
IngramSpark KDP

Using IngramSpark and KDP Print For Your Paperbacks

This week's post is about using two different companies for Print-On-Demand publishing—IngramSpark and KDP. Ever since Amazon began offering services to authors, there's been a question in the indie author community: should I use them? My answer, initially, was a...
asia

Adventures In Southeast Asia

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” ― Eugene Ionesco I first began visiting Southeast Asia over twenty years ago, so it probably comes as a surprise to readers that I haven't written about my...
Whizzers

Book Promotion Sites: Which Are The Best, and Are They Worth It?

I'll be the first to admit that I'm no expert when it comes to book promotion sites. When I published my first three novels simultaneously on December 10th 2015—a day that will live infamy, and yes, I know now that it was a harebrained marketing scheme—I knew nothing...
run

The End of a Good Run

I’ve had a pretty good run the last five or six weeks: last week’s blog post, entitled What Books Cost Their Authors: A Tale of Blood, Sweat & Tears, had the best “headline quality score” I’ve ever attained (yes, I run my headlines through an analyzer for SEO, to...
break

Taking The Time to Tell You I’m Taking Some Time

Some writers plan out all their blog posts well in advance, creating a schedule of topics. The calendar might include a month’s worth or more of diverse subjects with which they can engage, inform, and entertain subscribers.  And then there’s me. I’m only...
black friday

From Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday: A Reflection

​Not so long ago, it was easy to think of the week of Thanksgiving as “Gratitude Week.” In fact, I actually did that: back in 2016, Facebook reminds me, I posted an entire week’s worth of “Things I’m Grateful For” to my timeline. It was fun, and certainly provided...
sleep

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #8: Forgetting Your Best Ideas

We've all been there: lying in bed, on the edge of sleep, when a brilliant idea floats in from the ether. Maybe it's a fully-formed snippet of dialogue, or maybe something technical, like a major plot point. And before you drift off to sleep, you have to get up to...
railroad

Getting Back on Track

Last week, Hurricane Irma came barreling toward the eastern seaboard like a runaway freight train. Here in Tampa, the weather reports in advance of the storm were even more melodramatic than usual – “Tampa is poised to take its first direct hit from a major hurricane...
self-promotion

What’s The Problem With Shameless Self-Promotion?

While I still find it somewhat hard to believe, I've been on Twitter for almost eight years. I know this not only because Twitter shows Joined March 2015 on my profile but also because, even if they eliminate that feature, I use a tracker called Who Unfollowed Me? If...
MLK

MLK Day 2023

Here’s wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For many of us, today is always something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seemed to take in recent years....

Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices...
rails

Going Off The Rails (But Not On A Crazy Train)

Last April, I wrote a blog post called Back on Track With a Work-In-Progress. Part of that post was to talk about the difference between a “plotter” and a “pantser” (and to describe myself as a hybrid of the two, a “plantser”). Another, less obvious motive, was to...
French

Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions

Today’s blog post was originally going to be Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. III. However, after seeing parts I and II lined up, I decided to call an audible and make it something less repetitive. Somehow the SEO gods have gotten into my head. As I’ve mentioned...
scared

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. II

In last week’s post, I mentioned a pretty well-known author who has publicly reported his publisher “wouldn’t touch” a new release, in part because a character in his novel referred to herself as “fat.” I heard this story on a podcast, and I remember thinking, “Wait...
censorship

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want

I’ve been stewing on this for a while. It’s been brewing for quite a while. I could probably write a song about it (how about a rap?), but I don’t think I will. This is more of a blog post topic, and it might even deserve a series. And that’s the title and topic of...
gratitude

Should Every Month Be Gratitude Month?

When I was a kid, I loved Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. I read it daily and collected nearly every paperback volume of the cartoon, so I could see what I’d missed since the comic strip’s inception in 1950.  Certain things stuck: quotes like “happiness is a warm puppy”...
robot

More Thoughts On Robot Writers and The Tech Dystopia

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post here called When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? Apparently, I’m fairly obsessed with this stuff, because every time I come here and empty my brain, it seems to come up again. Today is no different. Part of the reason,...