When I published my first novel The Drought it was a step into the unknown. I didn't really know what to expect so I was learning as I went along and I kind of stumbled on to the genre lad lit when one of my early reviews used the term, followed by explaining it as chick lit for men. That will do for me I thought, and I kind of just ran with the label as part of my marketing and promotion.
However, as time went on I came to realise that the term lad lit - or perhaps just the genre in general - didn't seem that well known. I'd bunched authors like Nick Hornby, Tony Parsons, Nick Spalding, Mike Gayle and Danny Wallace all into this category as I felt they were guys writing about relationships from a man's point of view.
I'd attempted to answer the question What is Lad Lit? in a previous blog post, and I think it was fairly accurate, but lately I wonder if the term really does the genre justice.
In doing some research prior to my second novel being published, I started to find different variations of the genre: Dick Lit, Bro Lit, Fratire - none of which seem to be known as mainstream genres like its female cousin chick lit.
In fact, type 'Lad Lit' into Google and you get a Wikipedia entry for Fratire appearing at the top of the search. Wikipedia describes the genre as:
"Fratire generally features male protagonists, usually in their twenties and thirties. It is characterized by masculine themes and could be considered the male equivalent of chick lit. The genre was popularized by Tucker Max's I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell and Maddox's webpage titled The Best Page in the Universe and his book The Alphabet of Manliness. According to one of the authors, "fratire as a genre represents the non-mainstream literary reaction to the feminization of masculinity," although not all the books address this so directly."I don't particularly strongly agree or disagree with that description, but it hardly screams read me! I guess the main problem is that the term lad lit does not conjure up the same excitement in readers as a psychological thriller. You know what you're getting with that genre.
It seems a shame because I don't think the genre is an unpopular one when you break it down. Take the popularity of TV shows like The Inbetweeners or movies like Superbad or American Pie. All hugely popular and successful with audiences both male and female, and I've had the comedy in my first book The Drought compared to The Inbetweeners.
And that is another area of frustration when it comes to marketing the book. It feels like other genres such as Fantasy or Crime have ready made audiences for indie authors to tap into, yet I don't have a clue where to find my audience at times because it's not that obvious, yet when people have read and/or reviewed the The Drought, by and large it's received a positive reaction.
That is not to say it's impossible to do. Just look at Nick Spalding for example and his Love From... series which have been hugely popular and earned Nick a six-figure publishing deal. I guess it goes to show that with a bit of hard work and dedication (plus a sprinkle of luck I'm sure) you can find a audience to read your work.
But in what is now an incredibly cluttered market with the amount of self-published books being produced, a lot of those outlets for indie authors are becoming increasingly like closed doors. Online forums block authors from promoting their work to readers, Goodreads frown upon authors reaching out to other members if you are promoting your work, and bloggers sometimes sneer at self-published authors if we request reviews. I once posted a positive review for The Book With No Name by Anonymous on an online boom forum and I received a rather snotty email from one of the sites gatekeepers accusing me of being the author. I wish!
But I digress. Going back to my point of how the lad lit genre can become more popular, I guess a big part of that will come from the readers who enjoy the type of stories in these novels and help beat the drum to make it more mainstream.
So if you have read a lad lit novel lately and laughed until you cried, please send a Tweet, post a blog, update your Facebook status, write a review or simply tell a friend, because quite frankly, you'd be making my life a whole lot easier!