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Discussion Starter #1
I've heard a lot of people refer to women's fiction as if it was a genre, but it doesn't seem to me to have the same kind of focus that other genres have. Maybe it's more of a catch all term. But I'm beginning to think that this is the direction my writing is going in, and I'm curious if anyone here has found readers for women's fiction type books.

When I started writing on a regular basis, about three years ago, I didn't have any idea what I would have when I was done. My reading has always been eclectic and most of it in the last few years has been books published at least before the 1950s. I haven't done any marketing, but while trying to decide how to list my books, I've been leaning toward romance. I am thinking however, that I'm more in the women's fiction side of things than the strictly romance side of things.

Anyone other KBers writing women's fiction?
 

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My current series is definitely women's fiction. (Only Book 1 is published so far, Book 2 will be published yet this summer, Book 3 is started.) A Boomer Lit group sprang up on Goodreads, and I discovered this series clearly falls under that categorization. Sales? Low for me so far, but then I have only one book out. I don't know about the category in general. Marketing? I wish I knew.

As others on here will tell you, don't call it romance unless there's a "happily ever after" or "happy for now" type ending. Romance readers don't go for other ending options.
 

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Me! ;D

I don't know how much help I can be though. I've only been publishing a year, and only have one book out so far.

Women's fic is a small niche to begin with, but besides that, it's also still heavily dominated by lots of strong trad pub sellers (think: Sarah Jio, Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin, Kristin Hannah, Jodi Picoult, Jojo Moyes, Jane Green, J. Courtney Sullivan... I could go on for days, lol!) who write a lot of books. Given that women's fic novels tend toward the literary side, they also sometimes take longer to read. So if only just those trad pub authors kept putting out a book a year, the women's fic fans would have plenty to read forever and ever. Add to that, the women's fic book bloggers (those that trend toward literary rather than chick lit) still have a strong aversion to reviewing self-published books.

Point being, it's just kind of hard to get noticed.

Women's fic is definitely a genre though. IMO, anyway, lol! Check out this blog: http://womensfictionwriters.wordpress.com/

There's lots of discussion there about what women's fiction is, and what it does. And though I do believe it is a genre, you are right that it's a wide and unfocused one. That's why I enjoy it, to be honest. It gives you a lot of room to write a lot of different kinds of stories, very few rules to adhere to, and also plays well with literary, romantic themes, chick lit, historical, contemporary, comedy or drama. Good stuff! ;D
 

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My BFF Steena Holmes is a very successful women's fiction writer. Her first book Finding Emma she selfpublished.  She sold over 200K in a few months and landed a deal with Amazon.

I'd look at her website and her fb page and see what she's doing.  She's very active and has a huge readership that she nurtured herself.

Other good indie women's fiction writers...

Elena Aitken
Christine Nolfi

 

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It does seem to be a bit of a "catch-all" in the sense that it encompasses a very wide spectrum.  I've put one of my books in the WF bucket (and will probably do so for a few others) because, frankly, they don't seem to fit anywhere else:  not romance, not really chick-lit, not 'hard-core' action/adventure.... not any single, easily-identifiable genre.  So about the only thing left is Women's Fiction.   :-\
 

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I've categorized/tagged my work as women's fiction in a number of places, but I have run into trouble with readers who are looking for romance and a HEA. I published in Dec 2012 and have sold a hair over 3,000 copies in 20 countries, and am on track to sell 5,000 this year, which I'm very happy with. Give me a shout if you want to chat more.

ETA:
"run into trouble" = some not awesome reviews. We're not tussling or anything :)
 

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Here's Wiki and RWA's definition.

"Women's fiction is an umbrella term for books that are marketed to female readers, and includes many mainstream novels, romantic fiction, "chick lit,"and other sub genres. It is distinct from Women's writing, which refers to literature written by (rather than promoted to) women. There exists no comparable label in English for works of fiction that are marketed to males.

The Romance Writers of America organization defines women's fiction as, "a commercial novel about a woman on the brink of life change and personal growth. Her journey details emotional reflection and action that transforms her and her relationships with others, and includes a hopeful/upbeat ending with regard to her romantic relationship."

I put "women's fiction" in my keywords and under the romance category, I check contemporary women. I think that covers it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you all for responding. I knew some of you were out there:)

I'm glad to see how others are making it work. I will be following up on some of you and the names and links here to mine for ideas.

I've been trying to get started on new projects, (albeit slowly), and was feeling a little confused about my writing, and trying to model a romance style more and finding it weird. It just comes very difficult for me to write or even think that way - it's just not me.

I thought I would be clever and try to come up with a New Adult story, since others are having so much success with it - and ended up with a story idea with the big important scene revolving around a conversation about The Great Gatsby --- I love the story, but I doubt most romance readers would love it. SO I think I had better stick to women's fiction.

Women's fic is definitely a genre though. IMO, anyway, lol! Check out this blog: http://womensfictionwriters.wordpress.com/
This is a nice link, thank you.

I suppose women's fiction does not have the nice wide, comfortable pool of readers as say, romance or sci-fi, but in the other hand, women's fiction readers, (like myself I guess), like the off beat and unexpected, so I guess we never know what might strike a chord with people.

Maia, thank you for sharing numbers, (not that we need numbers, but I know some people don't like to put that stuff out there), and I love your cover. Anything you particularly recommend for getting the word out about your books?

Thank again for your thoughts. Happy writing!
 

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When I first published An Order of Coffee and Tears I put it under the Contemporary Women's Fiction label. I've since kept it more general, calling it contemporary fiction and pushing it in the Cozy Mystery genre Amazon has made available. I'm planning a few more books as part of Coffee and Tears, but will likely stay to just contemporary fiction.
 

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I write inspirational women's fiction on my other pen name. It's sort of family dramedy. Inspirational tends to do better than other types of women's fiction, I think.

Normally, it wouldn't really be my style, not being full of chase scenes and explosions and all, but I had a story to tell with it, so it's working.
 

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yeah, women's fiction is kind of a nebulous and "gooey" genre that can smoosh across many other more clearly-defined genres.  I guess, strictly speaking, I write in historical fiction and literary fiction, but all three of my current books and the new one that will be out soon would also fit in women's fiction (and one of them spent a few months in a Top 100 list in women's fiction, too.)  However, the two books I'll be writing next have male protagonists and are much more "guy-themed."  So hopefully all my readers who like the women's-interest aspects of my books will still be willing to give them a try.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'm glad that you're finding a place for your book, Brian. May I ask how you got your editorial reviews? I've always seen them on other pages and never thought through the process of how they get there before. Did you submit to book bloggers and then post quotes afterward?

Women's fiction seems to overlap with literary, which of course doesn't exactly sell like hot cakes. I've seen others suggest that one should find as many categories as possible (suspense, romance, whatever) to list a literary book under, and I imagine that goes for women's fiction too, so I can see how that could help with visibility.

I was reading a little from the blog on women's fiction that Laura posted and found this interesting quote in an interview:

I love women's fiction. I write it and I read it. I know women's fiction when I see it, and I know when I don't. Yes, it's a marketing label, but women's fiction is not just about "books by women about women, novels that explore the female experience." I think women's fiction has a particular feel, a particular scope and style. Women's fiction can be very funny and very serious and everything in between, but I do think it's a genre, and just because a novel is about a woman and her journey and experience doesn't make it "women's fiction."
(from the interview with Mia March)

I did a search for women's fiction on amazon a couple times in the past, and I got everything from Jodi Picoult to New Adult stuff to Fifty shades, so I think the term gets used for pretty much anything with a woman in it sometimes. Which is understandable, since the name is so vague.

I'm probably going to be thinking about this more, But I can already think of other books that I've read, and more that I just looked into, that have a definite feel to them I would associate with women's fiction. Strong narrative voice, and an emphasis on personal issues, but often stopping to consider their importance on a larger scale, raising questions about a character's larger role in society, or the significance of grief, love, and so on in people's lives, but always in the context of the story.

Or something like that. Probably any good book does all these things to a certain extent, but I suppose there's a more obvious emphasis in women's fiction. It's more intentional maybe. I love books that have a lot of opportunity for making connections like that, with ideas and reflections far outside the scope of the actual story.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Inspirational tends to do better than other types of women's fiction, I think.
Does it? I really like to write about my faith, which means a lot of my stories have a Christian bent to them. I've had other problems with the Christian label though, since so far I don't seem to fit well there either. What would be an example of inspirational women's fiction?

one of them spent a few months in a Top 100 list in women's fiction, too.
Well done! I didn't know there was a list like this, (I don't know much). How do you find it?
 

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lmckinley said:
Does it? I really like to write about my faith, which means a lot of my stories have a Christian bent to them. I've had other problems with the Christian label though, since so far I don't seem to fit well there either. What would be an example of inspirational women's fiction?
Kristen Billerbeck writes spectacular chick lit. Denise Hildrith is known both for her nonfiction and her fiction. There's also Jan Karon's Mitford series and Norma Jarrett's Sweet Magnolia books. I think because of the tame nature of inspirational, women's fiction crosses over with romance and non-fiction more than it would in non-inspirational books.

I think the key in inspirational is not to be too edgy, which is kind of hard to do, yet still have a strong style and an outward commercial appeal. I see a lot of inspirational books that are very poorly done, both inside and outside, or they are too preachy or promoting an impossible standard. I think there's a lot of Christian authors who think just because something is Christian that it doesn't need commercial appeal.
 

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I really don't like the label 'women's fiction' but I've put my novel under that category because it's definitely not romance, well not enough to satisfy readers of romance anyway.  I like to read and write stuff where the payoff is something more than getting a man.  I wonder where similar stories for men are classified.  The only writer I can think of is Nick Hornsby and he's famous enough to be under comtemporary fiction and be visible!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you, Lynn. I see what you mean now.

I think Christian books, (and music and lots of other things) have been impacted by this double standard for a long time. And I think there are a lot of people who will read a book simply because it's considered a Christian book and they feel like reading something. May it profit them. (Not referring to the authors you mentioned, just speaking generally).

But I like good writing, and although I'm sure it's out there, I've never been motivated enough to sift through much of the Christian market to find it there, since I think it would take a while. Although that being said, now that I've tried to do some writing of my own, it can be really hard not to be cheesy, preachy, or cliche and still try to say what I mean. It's harder than I thought it was!

I could really go on and on about this, but its not what the thread is about so much. Thanks for sharing some names, though. More food for thought.
 

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kathrynoh said:
I really don't like the label 'women's fiction' but I've put my novel under that category because it's definitely not romance, well not enough to satisfy readers of romance anyway. I like to read and write stuff where the payoff is something more than getting a man. I wonder where similar stories for men are classified. The only writer I can think of is Nick Hornsby and he's famous enough to be under comtemporary fiction and be visible!
Hear, hear!! My "It Takes a Thief" has a romantic undercurrent, but it's NOT the primary or even secondary story. You know, the "sisters doing it for themselves" thing; having a man isn't the be-all, end-all of every woman's life.

As for your reference to how similar men's stories are classified... good question! I'm working on a couple of short stories that are heavily male-focused, about a couple of male cops. However, they're not hard-boiled crime dramas which would interest hard-core male readers. Also, there are some very light romantic scenes involving one of the two cops. Regardless, I think women can identify with the main characters, even though they're male--I know I certainly do!--so I'd have to put these stories in women's fiction, as they're neither fish nor fowl.
 

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lmckinley said:
I'm glad that you're finding a place for your book, Brian. May I ask how you got your editorial reviews? I've always seen them on other pages and never thought through the process of how they get there before. Did you submit to book bloggers and then post quotes afterward?
For the reviews that really stand out to me, I ask for permission to use them in the Editorial section, and then edit via Author's Central.
Everyone with a book on Amazon should be using Author Central. Great tool.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you Brian. Sorry to pester you with questions, but who do you ask for permission? Amazon? Thanks.
 
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