Background artiste from 'Better than Stars'

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Commercial or Literary?

This one's been known to get my unmentionables in a twist before now. I end up getting all hot and bothered about 'Why can't a book be popular and well written?'; and 'If literary means valued, how can you judge your own work as such?' Or for that matter 'Why would anyone set out to write something that isn't literary?' But calm down - an excellent post here from bigglasscases puts the argument in a useful practical frame.

i.e., for every person like me protesting (again) that Shakespeare was commercial and literary, there's a hardworking agent out there trying to place books who finds it helpful to have a handle on where they might fit.

Sarah LaPolla also has a better shot at defining the difference between literary and commercial fiction than any I've come across before, with a nice analogy to catwalk vs high street fashion; and some advice for debut authors pitching their books.

So the question is, where do you see your work?

For my own part, Timehikers is (I hope) definitely commercial. Not so sure about Better than Stars or Water: a suggestion that it's a problem I need to sort out, maybe?


Ellie Garratt said...

I hope that my book will be both commercial and well-written. As for literary, I've never given that much thought as I've always known my writing would not fit into that category. If you ask me why, I couldn't really answer. Must look at the link you gave! Great post.

Kate said...

I think a book can definately be commercial and well written, in the same way that literary finction can be a bestseller :-)