by R.S. Mellette
A lot of people are guessing about what the digital revolution will bring to the publishing industry, so why should I be any different?
One of the current catch phrases we hear in the industry is "What shelf would this book go on?" This forces an author who might have a mystery series, set in the future, with a teenaged hero in an adult world to have to state not only a single genre (mystery or sci-fi), but also an age group (YA or Adult).
But in the digital world, there are no shelves. This book can be listed as a Mystery AND Sci-Fi; YA AND Adult. It can be labled as simply Fiction and show up on a list based on sales.
How soon will it be before agents and editors stop saying, "I don't know what shelf this goes on," and start saying, "I only see one category for this MS." How many writers will be arguing that a certain sub-plot makes their book qualify as a Romance?
And what will this multi-labeling do to writing styles? If self-publishers begin to attach so many categories to their books in order to cross-promote, will the labels lose their meaning? How valuable then will independent bookstore owners be, when someone asks, "Can you help me find a good book?"
R.S. Mellette is an experienced screenwriter, actor, director, and novelist. You can find him at the Dances With Films festival blog, and on Twitter, or read him in the Spring Fevers anthology.