A while ago, “experts” predicted that novels set at the school gates were about to become the next big thing. The main idea behind these novels is that women meet at the school gates, get coerced onto committees (or bully others onto committees.) And everyone worries about what everyone else thinks of them. The launch of Hive by Gill Hornby set the success of the genre in stone. (Or so the experts thought.)
Yes, in case you are wondering, Hornby’s brother is the novelist Nick Hornby. And yes, she is married to Robert Harris. But we’ll assume that had nothing to do with her getting a six-figure book deal, and that we all can do the same with our school-gate novels.
I had a flick through the pages of Hive with Amazon’s Look Inside feature, and she can write. That’s not too surprising, even if you ignore the brother and husband, because she used to be a columnist on the UK Daily Telegraph. I didn’t rushoff out to buy the book, because from what I read it’s a bit too frothy for my taste.
I’ve been thinking quite a lot about genre over the past few days, ever since I spent hours poring over The Indie Viewer, a website that lists bloggers who review independently published books. The reason I was reading this website was because I’m becoming more and more aware that to sell copious novels (or copious books of any kind) you need to get reviews, and these reviews need to be all over the web, not just on Amazon, Smashwords and the like. After all, if someone has got as far as finding your book on Amazon they can do what I did with Gill Hornby’s book and take a look inside to see if they might like it. We need reviews to get readers to even get to Amazon or Smashwords in the first place.
So, there I was, hunting through website after website, trying to find reviewers who I thought might like my novel, and though I have found a few I’ll send it to, I also learned a huge lot about what genres are favoured by popular reviewers right now. It stands to reason that if these genres are favoured by reviewers with large followings, they are also favoured by large numbers of followers.
And here’s what I concluded. Whatever the press might say about the rise of school-gate novels, judging from the reading lists of the reviewers I checked out, the vampire novel is still alive and well. Okay it’s actually dead and well, since we’re talking vampires.
I also have it on good authority that certain rubbishy detective novels sell well, and so does erotica. (By rubbishy detective novels I don’t mean books in which detectives root around in the garbage for clues to the latest murder, but detective novels of which I couldn’t get past the first page of the Look Inside because they were so badly written and cliché-laden. By erotica I mean – well you know what I mean.)
I had a discussion about this with some friends on Facebook and decided that if I want to make millions my next book should be a vampire detective novel that also contains some erotica. I would probably help if the protagonist is a cat, since books about cats sell well. So I figured, this this new genre would be the eroticatectivampire novel.
I’m thinking it will open something like this:
But wait! My friend Marcy, who writes at HubPages and can tell you the Things Nobody Tells You About Being a Parent (it’s funny so do go look) suggested we also add a romance element into this genre. Okay, Marcy, we’ll do that, and since we’ve now got the school-gate genre to fit it, it becomes the scgateromeroticatectivampire fiction. (Yes, everything is in there.)
So now we have:
Or if school-gate fiction is truly about to become the biggest trend since wizards then I’m thinking about re-marketing Drawings In Sand to sneak in the back door (or should that be through the back gate?) It’s almost there already: Stella is a teacher after all, and she’s a mother who worries about what other mothers think. There’s even a whole chapter devoted to a meeting with other mothers, where everyone worries about what everyone else thinks of them. Here’s a snippet:
So, what do you think?
Could it be the eroticatectivampire novel that makes my fortune?
Or will it be the scgateromeroticatectivampire or almost-school-gate fiction that does it?
And finally, do add your opening paragraphs for any of these genres to the comments!
School gate photo by Jan Baker [CC-BY-SA-2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons