Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Morning Thoughts

I'll admit it, I'm exhausted both mentally and physically this morning. For those of you who read my personal blog or who have seen my posts on Facebook, you know that this has not been a restful Spring Break. Oh, don't get me wrong. I love it when my son comes home from college. But part of me has spent the last few days almost wishing he hadn't -- not because I didn't want to see him or want him to come home. No, it all comes down to this -- after he left university, his dorm room flooded. It was one of a number that were damaged to varying degrees when an overhead pipe burst. Unfortunately, his room was one of the worst ones hit, at least according to the housing office. So, we've spent the last few days trying to figure out what has to be replaced immediately, what he needs to do when he gets there, etc. Needless to say, it's made it very difficult to think about writing or publishing or anything else.

So, with your indulgence, I'm simply going to ask a few of questions and see if we can't get a discussion started that way.

1. What do you think about blending genres in novels? Do you like a little mystery mixed in with your romance, a little fantasy with your mystery? What genres do you like to see mixed and which ones do you feel should never, ever be mixed? Or do you prefer your genres to remain "pure"?

2. Do you feel cheated when a cover doesn't ring true to the book? In other words, if you buy a book based on its cover and, after starting to read the book, do you get upset to find out the cover has absolutely nothing to do with the story?

3. How important is the cover for an e-book to you?

4. Are there any questions you want to ask?

Thanks, guys. I'll check back in afterwhile. Now I'm off to find gas for the new mower. Fuuuun.

14 comments:

MataPam said...

Is there such a thing as a "pure" single genre novel?

Most mysteries have a romantic element. Most Romances have either mysteries, horrors, fantasy, westerns or men's adventure touches. SF has F. Calling it telepathy doesn't make it any more scientific than calling it magic.

And comedy lifts any tale up out of the mundane.

Humor and comedy both add a whole lot to any story.

Mystery, horror, adventure? Well, what are you characters _doing_ while they're running about being silly and falling in love?

Stephen Simmons said...

1. The idea of "genre purity" strikes the "artist" (term used *very* loosely) in me as being nearly as offensive as all the other ideas out there espousing "purity" of this or that. (Firmly steering FAR from any political content ...) I write the stories, whatever they turn out to be. Genre is just a convenient way of sorting out the tens of thousands of titles on the shelves, to make the reader's search more efficient and increase the chances that reader-and-writer who belong together will manage to meet. Jim Baen's foreword to one of Spider Robinson's "Callahan's" books includes an anecdote about people writing him angry letters for publishing Spider's story "The Time Traveller" in an SF magazine, because it doesn't actually have any "science" in its speculative element. Ridiculous, because it's a really great story just the way it is, in my estimation.

2. That depends on what sort of "promises" the cover makes. Sarah's DST cover could certainly be construed to "promise things the story doesn't deliver", if the buyer is motivated primarily by how Thena is "clad" on the cover ... but it isn't fundamentally *inconsistent* with the story, either. On the other hand, I was very disappointed with the cover the publisher chose for the "Revolt in 2100" segment of Heinlein's "The Past Through Tomorrow" when it was re-printed. That cover strongly implies something like Drake/Weber/Laumer type military SF, which it most definitely is not.

3. Provided the cover is "honest", or at least not substantially misleading, covers for e-books serve the same function for online prowsing that covers for dead-tree books do. After all, the primary reason Gates is a billionaire is because he recognized that people grasp information many times faster from visual input than from text, and used that fact as the basis for creating Windows. This is even more important with the sheer volume of new material that will be made available through self-publication of e-books, imho.

4. Almost certainly, but I should probably think about grabbing some breakfast first ...

Synova said...

I like a mix of genres but I also like to know what I'm getting. A book cover illustration is a fairly standardized language and shouldn't be messed with. I have fond hopes that ebooks will recover interior illustrations to the industry.

Jim McCoy said...

1.) Genre Purity is a bad idea. I've read a few fantasy/mysteries and at least one SF/mystery and of course there are lots of stories in other genres that mix in some romance. A good story is a good story whether it is "pure" or not.

2.) I think a cover needs SOMETHING in common with the book it represents. I can get really frustrated if the two are way off, especially if it is my first time reading a new author.

3.) I would think that a "cover" for an e-book would help attract attention to it just like a cover on a DTF book in a bookstore. I don't really buy e-books though, so that's pure speculation.

4.) I'm working on some stuff for submission. When is the next open submission period for NRP?

EvMick said...

To me the "cover" for an ebook is irrelevant and unnecessary.

No matter what the genre it's helped by a little bit of humor if no irony.

Stephen Simmons said...

Jim M. - Submissions open April 1st, through April 30th. I'm working on a couple potentials for that period, as well. :-)

Amanda Green said...

Actually, there are still some "pure" genre novels...not as many as there used to be, but still some, Pam. I think the difference is how large a role the love, humor, etc., plays in the book.

Amanda Green said...

Stephen, good points, especially from the writer's viewpoint about mixing genres. Now, how about a writing exercise? Pick one genre and do a flash fic piece using only that genre...yes, I'm evil. It's been a long day with my internet down most of it. So I need an outlet for my evilness since the phone company frowns upon me sacrificing their techs. ;-p

Amanda Green said...

Synova, I have to agree with you about wanting to know what I'm getting. I think that is my biggest complaint about how the genre mix is sometimes presented. I've picked up some that don't mention romance and that's all it is. Conversely, I've picked up others that have said they are, among other things, fantasies only to find no fantastical elements there except for the wish that some fairy godmother or ancient god would come rescue them.

Interior illustrations will hinge on a couple of factors. The first is technology. E-ink displays are great for simple illustrations, but not for color or complex ones. The second is the financial impact. If it doesn't add value -- and, mind you, my idea of value probably isn't the same as the publisher's bean counter's -- to the book, then it won't be included. But, here's hoping we'll see more of it in the near future.

Amanda Green said...

Jim, you hit the nail on the head. A good story is a good story and that's all that matters. I also agree with you about the cover. Mind you, I don't think it has to give the story away, but it does need to have some relationship to what the author wrote.

As for submission period, we'll open back up next month. If you have any questions before then, you can email them to submissions-at-nakedreader-dot-com

Amanda Green said...

Ev, everything is helped with humor or irony or both.

As for e-book covers, the way I look at it is that as long as folks still click on the link for a sample based on the cover, it's something we need to be aware of. But I don't think they are quite as important as they are for hard copy versions of books.

Amanda Green said...

Stephen, thanks for passing on the submission info and I look forward to seeing what you have to send us.

Stephen Simmons said...

Pure single-genre flash?
I could TRY ... I think the Loki piece I sent you comes close. But it's NOT anywhere near my "norm". Good exercise idea. Thanks! :-)

Kate Paulk said...

Chiming in a little late as I recover from Lunacon...

1. The only thing "pure" is story. Everything else is marketing fluff.

2. Not usually, because if a quick browse of the book shows a serious mismatch between cover and content, either the content is good enough I'll buy despite the cover, or the content is crappy so I don't care about hte cover. But the cover is what makes me look.

3. See the last sentence for point 2. The cover is what makes me look.

4. Can I have a clone to send to work, please, so I can finish the post-con-crash?