I know some you of have the same little problem I do.
No, I’m not talking about hemorrhoids, vaginal dryness or anything else the doctor has a tri-fold color brochure for. You oh-so-clandestinely slip those puppies in your purse. Then, when you’re in Walmart, grubbing for your wallet to pay for that pallet-load of groceries, it flutters to the floor and lands at the feet of the one and only hell-fire hot Greek god who’ll ever be in line behind you. Being a gentleman, he bends to pick it up. Never mind that you’re diving after it like a hawk to the kill. He still gets to it first. You have to endure the moment when he reads “So, you have vaginal dryness.” He looks like he just picked up something that says, “Touching this brochure will make your wiener discolor and shrivel up like a really old banana.” When he gives it to you, a bizarre physiological transference takes place – kind of like shapeshifting. He sees you as the really old banana. You hang your head, stuff the brochure back in your purse, and know that you will never, ever have an intimate conversation over a glass of pinot with hell-fire hot Greek god guy. And, he won’t offer to do something about your “problem.”
I am talking about something equally as dreadful, though. You’re pitching your novel to an editor or agent, in person or in a query, and have to say which shelf your book goes on in Books-A-Bazillion. It’s a legitimate question. You want your book where its readers will be looking. Too, some agents only sell certain kinds of books. Editors definitely sell certain kinds of books. But your book is “bi.” It could sit on two shelves. “Well, ideally,” you evasively say to the agent,”it would have its own big shelf right where you walk into the bookstore, then another one by the coffee counter. I just know I could sell to the caffeine clan. They’re my people – legally indulging in a slightly mood-altering drug.”
The agent or editor looks at you like your manuscript title is “So, You Have Vaginal Dryness.” If the agent’s a woman, she raises an eyebrow. If it’s a man, you’re in the dead banana zone.
Seriously, I’m selling a book that certainly has a huge romance at its heart and a HEA, but it’s post-apocalyptic, has a supernatural creature as the villain, but no magic, trolls, elves or dwarfs like a fantasy (swords, but no sorcery). So, it’s kind of paranormal, with a level of world-building you’d want in a paranormal, but the setting isn’t your typical paranormal (castles and fortresses, but no vampires, werewolves or shapeshifters). To make matters more complicated, people who’ve read it said it feels like you’d find it over in literature. I take that as a compliment, but it doesn’t make it easier to sell. My name isn’t Margaret Atwood. Did I mention it’s 130,000 words? A disastrous length for romance. A delightful length for fantasy.
I’m making this too complicated. The book could go in either section depending on marketing. Maybe I’ll follow the tack of a published author whose query letter I found online. She was in a similar quandary. She just called her work a novel and let the query speak. It worked!
I’m curious how other people are handling this. I know some of you P4HTs have the same little problem, but in different permutations.
When we get this hashed out, I’ll make the brochure. “Oh Reader, Where Art Thou? – or -- So, You Have Shelving Syndrome.”