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Monday, March 4, 2013

TAG! You’re It, or Maybe Not...

Today I am pleased to publish my ninth guest blog post. You too can have a post published on my blog. Just read the guidelines HERE. In the meantime, enjoy...

TAG! You’re It, or Maybe Not...
By: Jill Edmondson

Romance? Horror? Humour? Sci-Fi? Western? How does an author categorize his/her work? Yes, I'm sure that the genre is (usually) easily identified by the author of a given work, but what about sub-genres? What about tags and labels? What does an author do if readers or others view your work as belonging to a category you never intended? How does an author promote if his/her book kinda, sorta fits into or has elements of some other, (un)related category?

The above situation could apply to two of my favourite authors: Jasper Fforde and Carl Hiaasen. Both of them write really funny books, so I suppose humour would be the first category to file them under. But there is much more to each of their works than side-splitting laughs.

Hiaasen’s novels have a crime at the heart of the plot, but would one expect to find them in the mystery section of a bookstore? Someone looking for a cozy or a hard-boiled mystery might be surprised by a guy with a weed-whacker as an arm. Someone looking for the next Hercule Poirot may be shocked by Skink and his road-kill dinners.

Similarly, Fforde’s novels feature investigator Thursday Next, and solving or averting a crime is at the heart of the books, but they are set in a fictional, fantastical world which might not appeal to someone looking for the next Jack Reacher. However, someone looking for a fantasy novel may be disappointed by them.

My books, the Sasha Jackson Mysteries have elements of romance in them. In Blood and Groom, Sasha is reeling from her recent break up with band-mate and ex-boyfriend Mick. In Dead Light District, Sasha is just beginning a relationship with lawyer Derek Armstrong.

So, yes, there is romantic tension and a love interest and all that warm, fuzzy stuff. But I would never call any of the Sasha books "romances." I think the books might appeal to readers of romance novels, but something tells me that if I were to promote or advertise on romance novel blogs or websites, that I would alienate or irritate their followers.

Additionally, the Sasha books have been linked to erotica and fetish genres or subcategories. I guess I have kind of asked for this ;-)  

In Blood and Groom, Sasha - who is just starting out as a PI - supplements her income by (ahem) working at a 1-900 phone sex line. In The Lies Have It, Sasha bartends at a fetish/S&M party. But the books don’t really have any naughty stuff in them. My grandmother could read them without blushing. If anyone looking for a bit of erotica bought one of my books, they would be disappointed. 

I worry that my books being labelled as erotica may alienate or irritate some of my (potential) readers. I can easily imagine that some mystery fans/readers would be put off by a book that they assume includes a lot of naughty tsk! tsk!, wink! wink! XXX content. Yes, many people on Twitter, for instance, add the hashtag #erotica when they tweet about my novels. Yikes!

I'm sure this conundrum is not unique to me. Decades ago, there was no such thing as AMAZON and "tags." I am glad that someone searching for “private eye” or “female sleuth” can find my books, but I wonder about the people who are finding my books for the wrong reasons, or worse. And what about those who are skipping past the Sasha books also for the wrong reasons?

I guess that once a story is published, it’s no longer yours – it belongs to the readers and what they bring to it. Or not.

About Jill Edmondson: There's a thin line between me and my heroine Sasha Jackson, although I've never worked at a phone sex hotline, and Sasha isn't a language geek. I enjoy bumming around any country where they speak a Latin-based language. I love cheesy, head-banging rock concerts, ice cream and palm trees. 

I'm a Cancer. I live in Toronto.

My reading tastes are varied, but these days they lean towards nonfiction, a mix of history, current events, politics, economics and science. When it comes to fiction, I prefer books that make me laugh; Jasper Fforde and Christopher Moore are two favorites.

I own the two cutest dogs in the world. They are both Maltese, and neither one has any teeth (dental problems are common with this breed, I hear). I got Bella in October 2011. She is 12 years old, very neurotic, weighs 6 lbs, and is very sweet. I got her new boyfriend Chico from an animal shelter in January 2012. He weighs 5 lbs, has a heart condition, and believes that my sole purpose on Earth is to rub his belly!

Blog: Jill Edmondson
Twitter: @JillEdmondson
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