June 07, 2014

This little booky went to market

"You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

I believe most people who have never written novels themselves tend to over-estimate how much control a novelist has over the tone, shape, and character of his book in the end, not to mention that of the audience it finds, if it finds one. You have some control, but it's not complete, no matter how hard you try. (This is good, by the way. There's no spark in a world without surprises.) Publishers will "aim it at" this or that market, and marketing terms like "YA" or "literary fiction" are most useful when the topic is marketing. But to ask whether or not a given book truly lives up to or fulfills the promise of its marketing category, or to wonder whether its audience is fulfilling its most proper role in the hierarchy of this "aiming" -- those are just about the least interesting questions that can be asked about a book. The answers are negligible. That they dominate "serious" discussion of books these days is both funny and sad.

Posted by Dr. Frank at June 7, 2014 04:32 PM