Chick Lit or Upbeat Women’s Fiction?

As a writer, one of the questions I get a lot is, “What’s your genre?”

I actually wrote my first book with no genre in mind. All I knew was I wanted to write fiction. I created my story the way I felt I should—using my own style and voice. While researching on Literary Agents and query letters, I realized I needed to figure out what specific genre I belonged to, as each agent specializes in different ones. The last thing I want is to send queries out to agents who can’t represent me.

After studying the different kinds of genres and subgenres, I came up with the conclusion that my book belonged to Women’s Fiction, specifically Chick Lit.

So before attending the Writers Conference in February, I took a closer look at chick lit novels. According to what I dug up, it continues to have a pretty big market. Sure, there is a lot of competition, but I was happy to know my book belonged to a pretty successful subgenre. I went ahead and had my business cards printed with chick lit under my name. I was ready to go.

At the conference, as expected, I was asked about what genre I wrote. I’m glad I did my homework. When I asked the same question to my fellow writers, there were quite a few who didn’t know what genre their book belonged to. Not surprising, because based on my experience, it can be pretty tricky.

Just when I was getting comfortable telling people about my book and genre, I met an Agent who gave me some not-so-good-news. After pitching my story, she politely tells me the publishing world is phasing out chick lit. My heart sunk. Crap. Really? What do I do now? Do I rewrite my story? What about all my business cards? Fortunately, she liked my pitch and asked for the first 50 pages. Whew.

Coincidentally, the next session I attended was about women’s fiction. During the session, I asked:
“I was just told chick lit is being phased out. If my book belonged to this subgenre, what should I call it now? Just women’s fiction?”

After nodding her head, the speaker on stage replied, “Yes. Just call it women’s fiction.”

I sat back down, not quite satisfied with the answer. Women’s fiction is so broad. The one thing that makes chick lit so different from other women’s fiction is its fun tone. Simply saying my book belongs to women’s fiction didn’t seem right to me.

During another session, I sat with 2 Literary Agents who gave me a slightly different answer. After telling them about my novel and my genre dilemma, they told me to categorize my book as an upbeat women’s fiction. Interestingly enough, one of the agents expressed her feelings about how chick lit should remain being called chick lit, especially if books like these still exist.

So is chick lit really dying? I did a quick search on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com and typed chick lit. A bunch of titles came up. Next, I checked google and found a plethora of sites that reviewed and talked about chick lit.

I guess it all depends on who you talk to. To some, chick lit has been successful and over published the past few years and is now taking a backseat. But to others, it’s still very much alive. If there is still a market for it, why get rid of it?

Chick lit or upbeat women’s fiction? What do you think?

0 Replies to “Chick Lit or Upbeat Women’s Fiction?”

  1. Sometimes what management does, does not make good sense. Claiming a popular genre dead is such a case. That sense, I have to say that I have always hated the term “chic lit.” I find it really demeaning. How about calling the slash and gore horror and war books which are the opposite of “chic lit” “dick lit.” Upbeat women’s fiction is a much more respectful way to refer to this sort of women’s fiction. Congrats on getting an agent!

    1. I’ve met a few people who share your sentiments about the term “chick lit”. I agree with you, “upbeat women’s fiction” does sound better.

      I’m still in the process of finding the right agent, but it’s definitely a step forward now that I’ve had a few requests of my manuscript.

      Thanks for your comment.

  2. What a great blog! I’m very impressed with how far you’ve come with your career so far. You’re certainly an inspiration.

    As far as what to call this fun genre, I think it should stay called Chick Lit. I do not like the sound of Upbeat Women’s Fiction, no matter how proper it sounds. I think that it takes away from the fun and “upbeat,” if you will, story-lines such as these! Also, a lot of women, no matter what their age is, dive headlong into Chick Lit books at all stages in their life, some even finding it a comfort during a break-up, a death and a way to comfort themselves during the lonely thing called being single! Wouldn’t it seem odd that if you’re in the bookstore and you need help trying to find the Upbeat Women’s section. Wouldn’t you immediately be insecure about what the employee at the store thinks of you now? “Great, now they know I’m (insert emotion here) and need a pick-me-up!” Now I’m not saying that every woman would feel that way, but really, has anyone ever looked up the definition of “upbeat?” Another thing I’m thinking is that they (the non-chick lit lovers) are trying to up the age of the reader for their type of books). I wonder what Olivia Goldsmith (the author of “The First Wives Club” would think of this. I bet she’s turning over in her grave). And think of Helen Fielding, the one who brought “Bridget Jones” into our life. Oh, and one more point (I promise) — what about Emily Giffin? Her “Something Borrowed” hit theaters in early May of this year, but the book has been out for quite awhile, and they are planning on making “Something Blue!” Now, she’s is one of the Queens of the Chick Lit genre and is becoming even more popular since her movie debut. So, if they are making movies out of these Chick Lit’s, how can this genre be dwindling?

    Again, great blog!

  3. You make a great point there Isabella. I did a quick search on Amazon.com for books in the “Upbeat Women’s Fiction” genre. Guess what? Nothing came up. I tried Chick Lit and Women’s Fiction and a bunch of titles immediately came up.

    Maybe “Upbeat Women’s Fiction” doesn’t exist. I guess it’s up to me to either go back to calling my books Chick Lit or simply calling them Women’s Fiction.

    Thanks for your comment. Go Chick Lit!

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