Literature in the 21st Century

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Might be interesting to start a critical / analytical discussion of this report in the Back Room.
 
I had a wry smile on my face reading this report, largely because, as is fuzzily declared at the beginning of the report, no one can define quite what 'literary fiction' is! Easier to say what it's not—that is anything that neatly slots into a genre—yet in considering great works of literature, many classic titles weren't intended to be high-flying literature. For example, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Arthur Conan Doyle released their novels in serial form, with plots heavy on crime and featuring some of the first detectives to appear in print.

Instead of hiding literary fiction in General Fiction, there might be commercial sense to declare it as a separate category, or, if you want to dumb it down, call them Brainy Books!

After I returned to creative writing in 2013, I concentrated on short stories, novellas and poetry, while pondering what to tackle in my first novel. I intended this to be a literary effort, but researching the market to do with querying, I found repeated advice that pitching a literary novel stood the least chance of success. I'm not that commercially savvy, but even I could see that it made more sense to write a genre novel. As a genre Crime/Mystery is second only to Romance/Erotica, and as I'd always had an interest in fictional and factual crimes I had a good grounding to create my own stories that might stand a chance of selling—especially as they're set where I live in Cornwall, which already has a strong literary identity, thanks to Daphne Du Maurier and Winston Graham.

As I'm about to go back to querying literary agents, when I'll make more sharply focused approaches, I can't help but see traditional publishing contracts as slave labour. The supposed advantage of having representation by an agent and by a book publisher has altered, with authors expected to do much of their own publicity; I'd hazard a guess that most authors chase a book deal so that they don't have to become a self-promoting one-man-band. Increasingly, I'm looking at a return to self-publishing, making direct approaches to independent presses, some of whom have won literary awards, and also to formulate a submission to Unbound for crowd-funding.
 
I wonder how much was spent on this study. Outside of an inflated word count, it presents the same numbers and considerations that you will find in my posts in the thread about author income (can't remember the real title).

Smiles
Bob

I don't remember either. I haven't yet finished reading the report but this report is about literary fiction.... It makes a difference to me. It's a whole different undefinable, sometimes inflated -- animal. I thought your post was about all books--the entire market. Unless I've already forgotten.
 
I don't remember either. I haven't yet finished reading the report but this report is about literary fiction.... It makes a difference to me. It's a whole different undefinable, sometimes inflated -- animal. I thought your post was about all books--the entire market. Unless I've already forgotten.
I made a couple posts if memory serves. Mine was about all books, the study used general fiction to measure literature, (that's a failure on it's own, since general fiction includes literature, but literature is only a small percentage of the genre). The numbers presented in the study do include all sales in a lot of their analysis. The surveys were responded to by either writers or other, with little input from the people who know (agents and publishers). As I stated in the other post, the industry has not committed funds to identify statistics to quantify writer's income.

The study appears to be a political tool to solicit discussion in parliament and entice addition social programs for writers. I can't put that down, because writers do need as much support as possible.
 
I made a couple posts if memory serves. Mine was about all books, the study used general fiction to measure literature, (that's a failure on it's own, since general fiction includes literature, but literature is only a small percentage of the genre). The numbers presented in the study do include all sales in a lot of their analysis. The surveys were responded to by either writers or other, with little input from the people who know (agents and publishers). As I stated in the other post, the industry has not committed funds to identify statistics to quantify writer's income.

The study appears to be a political tool to solicit discussion in parliament and entice addition social programs for writers. I can't put that down, because writers do need as much support as possible.

Is literary fiction the same thing as literature? I don't think so. Literature might be literary fiction + time. You know .. sort of like tragedy + time = comedy. Anyway... I think general fiction is the closest we're going to get from our point of view to knowing what might become literature.

No, I don't imagine they have committed funds to identify statistics to quantify writer's income. When and if someone does ... in this new environment ... it will be an impressive feat. I picture it as being prohibitively expensive and labor intensive. Even if you get authors to willingly participate and report their income to the study, the information would have to be verified. I supposed perhaps IRS could gather this sort of information (in the US). But.... I can't imagine how that would work out. What would it take to get the IRS to hand that information over and considering this information would undoubtedly be adjusted ... it's still not accurate.

When you say 'the industry' hasn't committed funds who do you mean exactly? Agents... publishers.... who would benefit from such an expensive somewhat hopeless and overwhelming task...

I don't think it's happening. But when it does ... it would rival the Kinsey Study.

That was sort of a joke. I'm sure I'm only making myself laugh. Still .. it's hard to resist making myself laugh.
 
Is literary fiction the same thing as literature? I don't think so. Literature might be literary fiction + time. You know .. sort of like tragedy + time = comedy. Anyway... I think general fiction is the closest we're going to get from our point of view to knowing what might become literature.
Bang on, @Amber. Literary fiction + literature is still a fraction of general fiction. Do the numbers align? I don't know. Our sales indicate they may, but we operate one store. On a global scale, I don't know.

No, I don't imagine they have committed funds to identify statistics to quantify writer's income. When and if someone does ... in this new environment ... it will be an impressive feat. I picture it as being prohibitively expensive and labor intensive. Even if you get authors to willingly participate and report their income to the study, the information would have to be verified. I supposed perhaps IRS could gather this sort of information (in the US). But.... I can't imagine how that would work out. What would it take to get the IRS to hand that information over and considering this information would undoubtedly be adjusted ... it's still not accurate.
I agree. That is the issue with raising additional assistance for writers. Members of parliament challenge bills, demanding accurate numbers. There are no accurate numbers. This is the challenge for the authors of this study.

The "industry" should include writers, in my opinion. I believe the term is used to lump publishers, agents and book sellers together for expediency.
 
I exclude vanity press publishers from that definition. They were not who I was thinking of, reading this. I was thinking Legend, Dome, Joffe, etc etc
 
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