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Why clump books and people into one category? by Sherri Rosen


Why Clump Books and People into One Category?

Why do we lump so many books and people into just one, narrow category when they could be spread out in so many? Doesn’t it just rub you the wrong way some times to see a book or a person or yourself crunched into a little box? Don’t you ever just feel like the author or the individual has colored outside of the lines, and then the publishers or others just made the lines bolder?

I had been working with a Christian author on his book about sex, the struggles of being single, the joys of marriage, and even a “how-to” dating section. It was called Mud & Poetry: Love, Sex, and the Sacred. Even though it was written from a Christian perspective, it was the kind of book that would appeal to everyone—not only Christians.

Yet it was catalogued only under Christian Living. But why not also Sexuality, Dating, Self Help, Memoir, and Spirituality? There could have been so many other categories to classify this kind of book.  And that is what we did.  Took the book out of the box.

Take the African American books out of their category and allow everyone to appreciate subject matters that are being talked about within these books.

Take some of the Buddhist books and put them in other categories.  We are missing so much by these labels that are being put onto these books into these categories, and I could go on and on.

We use these labels to help better explain what books and people are about. They help us schedule and arrange and market. But sometimes labels can get in the way. Sometimes a book could not only be in one particular market but open to all. Some books and people tear down boundaries and jump fences. They defy categorization, and Mud & Poetry is only one example. For example, so many of the Young Adult books that I have had the privilege to read could also be for adults. They are well crafted, small works of art, full of insight and humor even for an adult. Bil Wright’s books like Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy is one example that comes to mind and also Derrick Darby’s Hip & Philosophy.

Although categories can be helpful, sometimes they cloud more than they illuminate. Sometimes they can close doors, rather than open them. Some books and people just need room to breathe.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, January 12th, 2013 at 12:08 pm and is filed under African American, Clients, Friends and Colleagues. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Why clump books and people into one category? by Sherri Rosen”

  1. Becky Blanton Says:

    Great question. I’ve had a wonderful agent for more than 5 years. When I sent her my book on UFOs she had issues with it because it has a strong Christian background. The Christian publishers claim it doesn’t fit their criteria for “Christian” because it’s about UFOs and has some new age stuff in it. The UFO crowd is offended by the Christian perspective. It’s a book that pisses almost everybody off!

    But, that makes “October Abduction” the book without a genre. It’s been described as, “The DaVinci Code meets Left Behind.” But it doesn’t sell because it’s not in a box and people don’t want to read it because they might be offended (I say they’ll be challenged to look at what they believe, and that’s even worse than being offended!) People who buy it must take a risk.

    That’s what boxes are for — the 80% that are not risk takers. I agree with you on the need to take things out of the box and give them different labels. Good for you for urging your client to go further and push out of the box!

  2. Sherri Rosen Says:

    Thanks Becky, always appreciate your feedback, support and insights.

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