Thursday, September 13, 2012

Have you been genre-shamed?


Last week, Rebecca made a great post about writer's owning themselves. If you haven't read it yet and need a bit of uplifting, I suggest you go read it now.

Today, I'm exploring the same subject but from a different angle. I want to talk about Genre Shaming.

For those who don't know, genre shaming is when a person makes derogatory remarks on a specific author or book due to its genre. For various reasons, said person believes this genre is an inferior brand of literature unworthy of their attention. They are often amazed anyone bothers to read this genre and possibly even scoff at and/or jeer those who do.

Young Adult has taken its fair share of knocks and bruises. Many people believe Young Adult is inferior in every way to Adult literature and that it's only acceptable for children to read in this genre. The general line of thought from these people is that if you're an adult and you're reading Young Adult, it's because you simply don't possess the intellect needed to tackle the Adult genre.

You and I know better. We may not be teenagers any longer, but our love for Young Adult literature has not lessened. If anything, it has only grown stronger, driving us to write stories to push the genre ever further into new territory.

I have dealt with genre shaming before. Correction: I deal with genre shaming on a regular basis.

It isn't easy. The person in my life who abhors Young Adult is very near and dear to me. I can't avoid them or cut them out of my life like I would someone else who has a negative impact on my life. It isn't that easy.

So I endure the genre shaming and occasionally let it get me down. They openly mock Young Adult while knowing this is the genre I write in. This person has commented on several occasions that the Young Adult genre is made up of the authors who couldn't hack it in the Adult market. It hurts on a regular basis. I have to cope with the knowledge that no matter how well I write my book, this person will never respect me as a writer.

To all those people who have dealt with (or are dealing with now) genre shaming, hang in there. I know how much it hurts and how much harder it makes it to write a book. I know how devastating it can be on your self-esteem and motivation. But don't quit. Keep doing what you love. Don't let another person's beliefs and opinions define who and what you are.

Does anyone have a story they'd like to share about genre shaming? Any past experiences or thoughts on the subject? Keep on keeping on, folks.

8 comments:

  1. I've seen reviews at Amazon and Goodreads from people who admit they don't even like a given genre and are just giving a book a bad review because they don't like the genre. Even better are the people who say they didn't realize the book they were buying or picking up was a certain genre or age group, and they're giving it a bad review because they were expecting something else. How do you not know a book is a romance, children's, historical, fantasy, etc.? Don't you read the blurb or product summary or anything? And why ruin it for those who do like that genre? I wouldn't go out of my way to give a bad review to, say, a paranormal book, because I'm just not into that genre and would rather read things I actually like.

    My passion is historical, and I've read and heard people saying they don't like it or think it's boring. It's kind of frustrating when the genre you've been writing in for probably 25 years now isn't so popular at the moment, and you suspect you're being passed up in contests and querying because you're in such a minority and because you write more than just fluffy period pieces. (Can we please end the trend of Gossip Girl in period clothes?)

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    1. In all fairness, I often try a genre I don't normally read if cover copy sounds interesting enough. Historical isn't my thing, but I try it upon occasion to see if I can find one that changes my mind. (For instance, I formerly was not a contemporary reader, then I read Break by Hannah Moskowitz. It changed my world.) I don't give people a hard time for writing or reading historical, but it isn't generally something I enjoy. So it isn't necessarily people reading outside their genre to be jerks but because they want to give it another try.

      *shrug*

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  2. I wasn't even aware of this! I knew about people giving bad reviews to people they disliked, or creating sockpuppets and doing one-star reviews to competition, but not over genre!

    I hope things get better for you, Carrie-Anne. I think Historical will swing around again. I've seen several agents state they're searching for Historical Romance (I don't know if your stories have romance elements or not, just taking a shot in the dark).

    Thanks for commenting!

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  3. Yikers! I’m surrounded by a family who are not writers, but are extremely encouraging! They didn’t even know what “YA” meant until I told them, and they had questions, but they would never think of mocking it. That must be so hard… Good reminder to encourage other people, no matter what it is, so they don’t end up feeling the same way. Great post, Rachel. ~Aidyl

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    1. It's important to have people around who support you. I'm not without my own support system, which is very much a large reason why I'm able to keep trucking on.

      Thanks for commenting!

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  4. I write (among other things) steampunk romance. The problem with that is sci-fi/fantasy conventions are the places most likely to embrace steampunk... and they tend to turn their noses up at romance. I don't want to misrepresent my work, but *sigh* it gets really frustrating.

    Fortunately, romance readers tend to embrace a lot more. So I try to spend more time around that community than the sci-fi/fantasy community.

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    1. Steampunk is one of those niche markets that's growing in popularity. I can definitely understand your frustration. Who wants to feel like an outsider at the one place they're supposed to fit in at? I'm sad to hear some people have snubbed you just because you write romance. Don't let it reflect on the sci-fi/fantasy community as a whole though! All the writers I know in this genre would never do such a thing.

      I wish you better luck next time you hit a sci-fi/fantasy convention and thanks for commenting!

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  5. According to a report yesterday by Publisher Market Place, 55% of those individuals buying YA books for themselves are NOT teens. That's right. This doesn't mean the majority of YA readers are adults (most teens borrow books instead of buying them), but it does tell you that a lot of people don't agree with the quality of YA fiction. Just the idiots who are jealous at how well the "genre" is doing. :D

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