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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've just discovered this term and was wondering if anyone here is using it to describe their own works. I'm glad to find a phrase that categorizes the type of story it does, but have to admit, I hate the actual phrase. It sounds more like a pretentious marketing adjective than a term that defines what type of story it is to the reader.

To paraphrase, upmarket fiction is described as literary writing with commercial themes.

Which works as its own category. Greatly simplifying things, I know that horror is going to be dark and involve monsters or murders. Mystery has a puzzle to solve. Sci-fi will be futuristic or involve technology that doesn't exist yet. Those are all broad, but well defined genres. Many of my stories don't contain any of those tropes, but do have a hook. Many of them balance internal character struggles with a quick moving plot where something happens.

Anyhoo, I haven't seen this term on many lists or check-boxes when submitting stories, but if I were to use it to describe my stories, would fellow writers and editors know what I'm talking about? Should I use it? What do you think of it?

 

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This is the first time I've heard of it. Have you any examples of people using it?

Matthew
 

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rainvilleadam said:
I've just discovered this term and was wondering if anyone here is using it to describe their own works. I'm glad to find a phrase that categorizes the type of story it does, but have to admit, I hate the actual phrase. It sounds more like a pretentious marketing adjective than a term that defines what type of story it is to the reader.

To paraphrase, upmarket fiction is described as literary writing with commercial themes.

Which works as its own category. Greatly simplifying things, I know that horror is going to be dark and involve monsters or murders. Mystery has a puzzle to solve. Sci-fi will be futuristic or involve technology that doesn't exist yet. Those are all broad, but well defined genres. Many of my stories don't contain any of those tropes, but do have a hook. Many of them balance internal character struggles with a quick moving plot where something happens.

Anyhoo, I haven't seen this term on many lists or check-boxes when submitting stories, but if I were to use it to describe my stories, would fellow writers and editors know what I'm talking about? Should I use it? What do you think of it?
Really?

To me, "upmarket fiction" sounds like a term salespeople would use while they salivated over all the money these books would bring in, but that they would never allow customers to hear, for fear of spooking customers and scaring them and their wallets away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A few examples:

http://www.jenbrookswriter.com/2012/03/30/upmarket/
"Literary agent Sarah LaPolla has this to say about upmarket fiction on her blog: ''Upmarket' fiction is where things get tricky. Books like The Help, Water for Elephants, Eat, Pray, Love, and authors like Nick Hornby, Ann Patchet, and Tom Perrotta are considered 'upmarket.' Their concept and use of language appeal to a wider audience, but they have a slightly more sophisticated style than genre fiction and touch on themes and emotions that go deeper than the plot.'"

http://robbgrindstaff.com/2011/09/genre-and-market-categories/
"Upmarket fiction has been described as literary appeal with commercial potential. For examples of upmarket fiction, think John Irving, Jodi Picoult, Amy Tan, Sarah Gruen, Arthur Golden, and Ian McEwan."
 
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Upmarket fiction is more of a marketing term, not a genre category. It's like when you hear people talk about "beach reads" or 'popcorn books". It refers more to the marketing of the book than the subject matter. Its more industry jargon that a description of a book category.
 

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I agree, it seems like a marketing term to attempt to flatter readers. The term "Upmarket" would seem to imply a higher cost, like they are going after a market segment that will pay more. A BMW is more luxurious than my car, but it costs more. The difference between my car and a BMW is pretty easy to measure (although I have no need to a a more luxurious car), but a book is much more subjective. If it doesn't cost more than other books, how are you tapping in to a more upscale market? It just looks like the fallacy of appeal to flattery: "This book is for the upscale people, and you want to be upscale as well, don't you?"
 

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I agree, it sounds even more pretentious than "literary" lol!

But yes, mine is what they call "upmarket contemporary" or "upmarket women's fiction". I don't use the term myself because I don't think most readers would know what that means, and I'm not corresponding with agents. (If I was, I might use it there, because it's more of an industry term than anything.) But in blurbs I usually throw the word "literary" in there somewhere, and talk a little about redemption and/or the human condition. ;)
 

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rainvilleadam said:
"Upmarket fiction has been described as literary appeal with commercial potential. For examples of upmarket fiction, think John Irving, Jodi Picoult, Amy Tan, Sarah Gruen, Arthur Golden, and Ian McEwan."
These are all authors I think of when I hear the term "upmarket fiction." And like Julie said, it's not a genre -- it's merely a marketing term
 

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I write what could reasonably be called "upmarket fiction" under one pen name, but I don't use that label for my work.  It seems to be a term that agents and editors understand, but readers do not.  At least, I've never seen a reader's blog or Goodreads profile that states they love "upmarket" stuff.  Those readers most often use "literary" or "contemporary" to describe what they love to read, so those are the labels I use for my writing.  

As indie authors, we've got no middlemen to worry about, so we have to think about how readers will locate our books, not agents or other industry professionals.  
 
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