romance vs general fiction

I’ve had a couple emails from people to tell me about their experiences looking for Queen of Swords in paperback. Two points keep coming up:

1. They find it in the romance section rather than the general fiction area.

2.  There are only a few copies, and none on the new fiction shelf.

First some good news: Queen of Swords has gone into a second printing, so people are looking for it until they find it.

Now, here’s my official reaction to being shelved in the romance section: I don’t mind. Romance novels are always at the top of the mass market best seller list, because you know what? Women read. So if my stuff has a better chance of being noticed and picked up  in romance, that’s fine with me.

I don’t take offense at the idea of my Wilderness novels as romance. Some of my favorite novels are romances, from Pride and Prejudice to Faking It. Eleanor Roosevelt said: Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. I refuse to participate in the trivialization of fiction that women like, and I wish I could get more attention from the romance crowd. So if you see one of my novels in the romance section, you should know I’m glad it’s there.

The issue of the novel being relegated to dark corners is more complicated. In chain bookstores, publishers pay a premium to have new releases right up front on the new release table. They may have done that this time for certain chains in certain areas. If a small independent bookstore isn’t showing a book you think is good enough for that kind of treatment, you can talk to the manager about it. As long as you are reasonable and polite, you can have a conversation on these issues and maybe make a difference in the positioning in the book. If you’re angry at the way Barnes & Noble (for example) handle a new book, a talk with the manager isn’t going to change much at all. If you feel really strong about this, you can write to the publisher of the house in question. Enough letters and emails will may get some attention for a minute or two.

The only thing you as an individual can do is to recommend the book to friends and acquaintances, and encourage them to get copies of their own.