Welcome to the world of publishing, an ever-changing dynamic that seems to reinvent itself nearly every season, some might even say everyday. The latest of these reinventions is what I call the “micro-genre.” It’s a way of niching a book in such a finite way that it feeds into a category within a category. An example of this is the micro-genre of chick-lit. Now we have hen-lit, mommy-lit and a few brave UK publishers are even dipping their toe into the daddy-lit category. So why are publishers pushing micro-genres? Well, the world of publishing faces its biggest hurdle ever: a lack of readers. We’re publishing more books than ever but overall readership is down. Combine that with the scourge of the publishing industry: book returns and you’ve got a recipe for publishing peril. Micro-genres give publishers a focus group of readers they can hone in on. No longer marketing a book to the “chick-lit” reader, they can now break this down even further into sub-genres. But this doesn’t stop at the chick-lit market, just about every genre is seeing this breakdown and authors are being asked what micro-genre their book belongs in. But there’s an even bigger reason for this in my opinion. In a world of digital-on-demand everything we want what we want when we want it. This trend started when Napster entered the scene some years ago offering digital downloads of the songs you wanted, when you wanted them – now in their revamped form (read: legal) Napster and other music download sites are giving us what we want, no more no less. Enter TiVo, Podcasting and RSS, we’re now becoming more discerning saying we simply won’t be sold a bag of goods we don’t use. We won’t buy a CD for just one song, we won’t watch a show when the networks want us to watch it and we won’t buy books that are “sort of” what we want to read. We live in an on-demand society, micro-genres is part of that trend. Look for your very own micro-genre, coming to a bookstore near you.
Here’s a recent interview I did on this topic for the Arizona Republic Newspaper: http://www.azcentral.com/ent/arts/articles/0522summerbooks0522.html