Why chick lit blogger and author Nancy Scrofano believes that indie authors rule the chick lit world.
Bridget Jones’s Diary started it all. Chick lit became the “it” genre when Bridget Jones gained popularity, followed by other hugely successful novels like Sex and the City and Confessions of a Shopaholic. As most chick lit fans know, there was a surge of chick lit in the mid-late 90s and early 2000s, but the market was quickly saturated by the boom, causing some to declare it “dead” and agents and publishers to turn their backs on it. Chick lit was blacklisted. People have exhaustingly debated the name of the genre and argued over the “fluffy” content of the books, referring to it as “mindless”. But chick lit authors and readers wouldn’t back down. Change was imminent.
The Chick Lit Bee is my blog, and 95 per cent of the book review requests and general emails that I receive are from independent “indie” authors. Chick lit authors have taken the following attitude towards the big publishers who scoff at their work: “If you won’t publish it, then I will.” Yes, the extremely popular authors like Emily Giffin, Sophie Kinsella and Jennifer Weiner are still writing books that sell very well, but the indie authors really keep the genre afloat.
The big, traditional publishers have gravitated toward “serious women’s fiction”. If an author already has a following and proven track record, then it is likely that an agent and publisher will continue to stick with her and her novels, even if she writes chick lit. But agents and traditional publishers are much less likely to take a risk on a debut chick lit author. They’re looking for a sure thing, some sort of guarantee. Last year, when I approached agents with my novel, True Love Way, I got the same response over and over again, no matter what positive feedback it was accompanied with: “Chick lit doesn’t sell.” That was their bottom line. But they’re wrong. It may not sell to the big publishers but it certainly sells to the readers. Luckily, I signed with independent publisher, Simon & Fig, who understands that and sees the value in chick lit.
In the chick lit community, independent authors are now becoming just as well-known as Giffin, Kinsella and Weiner. Names like Talli Roland, Dina Silver and Romi Moondi are familiar to those who know and love the genre. Some authors, like Michele Gorman, have chosen to leave traditional publishing and self-publish, while other authors go straight to self-publishing without ever querying agents. The stigma of self-publishing isn’t nearly as prevalent as it once was, as more and more talented authors join the movement. I can’t speak for other genres since I’m not as familiar with their books and authors, but I do know that chick lit continues to be affected (in a great way) by independent publishing, especially due to the ebook revolution.
There’s something empowering about having our own group of authors and readers who don’t care what the naysayers think. Together, we are all committed to the genre we adore. Chick lit is definitely here to stay, and courageous indie authors are making sure of that.
Nancy Scrofano is the author of True Love Way. She is a freelance writer and founder and managing editor of The Chick Lit Bee, a book blog that promotes and celebrates women’s fiction. Nancy is at work on her next novel. For more information, visit http://www.nancyscrofano.com.