In case you didn't hear, recently someone else wrote yet another article about what a horrible tragedy it would be for their books to be labeled YA. Because YA is frivolous nonsense full of fluff and teenage girl hormones or something, I don't know.
Hardly the first author to balk at the idea of their book being classified as an oh-so-dreaded Genre Novel. Not that YA is a genre (it is not; it's a category), but many YA novels do fall into the genre classification. It seems like this is something a lot of people struggle with. They don't want their novel to be another disposable one-time read that vanishes into the ether. Who does? They want their novel to be THE NOVEL, the one that gets attention and royalties and fan followings. Something important and meaningful that's reprinted for years to come.
But this abhorrence of genre literature as though it is lesser, as though it's something on the bottom of your shoe, has got to stop. It's fine if it's not your intention to write genre literature. If you're a literary writer, then go for it. No bones to pick here. It's when an author writes something that could potentially work in a genre classification and then GETS OFFENDED when a publisher dares to suggest that their book might work there that it becomes silly.
I'll repeat something here that I posted on Twitter:
You wanna deal with the book market and find readers, you deal with the book marketing machine. There's no THIS IS PURE GENIUS category.
— S.E. Sinkhorn (@sesinkhorn) October 8, 2012
To expand: no one is going to make you your own Special Snowflake shelf. If a professional book marketer is telling you where they think your book is most likely to succeed, they maybe know what they're talking about. They're not trying to *water down your genius*. They're trying to sell your book. In order to do that, they have to try and figure out where it might be most successful. Even if you are publishing your novel yourself or through an indie publisher, this still applies. Your book has to go somewhere that readers looking for the sort of thing you wrote are most likely to find it.
I'm not saying this is a perfect science. Sometimes editors and publishers have suggestions for your work that go against the core of what you were trying to convey, and it's okay to say no. But it's equally important to hear them out and understand their reasons before you say no. If you're stamping your feet because you feel like your book needs to be in the *Very Important Works of Supreme Magnificence* section and they're telling you they want to put it in General Fiction, then get over it. If you intentionally wrote something for an older audience and they're trying to get you to age it down to fit in YA, then okay, say no thank you. But not because you think being in a certain section is going to diminish the quality of your work by association.
If you wrote a good novel, then that novel will be good regardless of the section it winds up in.
I know marketing can suck, especially for people who are completely uninterested in playing the marketing game. But ultimately, marketing has its purpose. It's supposed to find you readers. It's all well and good if your book is put on a pedestal with celestial lights shining on it from above, but is that what's going to get readers to pick it up? Or will it maybe find a better home among science fiction fans?
I tend to bristle a little at the implication that marketing folk are out to Destroy Art, if you couldn't tell! What say you, readers?