I was chilling on Twitter, which I use as a ‘marketing platform’ (or am trying to, technically as of now I’m not selling anything and my books are free) when I came across this article. It’s about how several authors tweeted out against a college student that stated college books should be a bit more complex than Young Adult novels. And this got me thinking quite a bit.
There’s words being tossed around like ‘sexist’ and ‘misogyny’, and I’m sorry (and will probably get heat for this), but I couldn’t care less, that’s not the subject I was thinking about when I saw this. I just looked over the situation briefly, admittedly, and have two opinions on the matter:
- That all genre of books are valued and most probably have some lessons. So what if they’re not the next huge classic? Every single reader out their has different preferences and needs. Saying someone just “writes shitty teen fiction” or something isn’t cool. Heck, I criticize Twilight on a regular basis because I genuinely despise it. But Meyers did work hard on the book, and it was well received by many. To me, the book isn’t good, but to others, it’s amazing. And that’s just fine.
- People need to be able to take criticism. Not every genre is a fit for everyone. Heck, I only read fantasy, because other genre bore me to tears. And that’s just fine too, I like the escapism and being able to visit other worlds through literature. In my own writing, I know that it won’t be taken well by everyone. 30 agents have rejected it already, after all. Does that make it a bad series or book? Maybe. To some people, certainly. To me and other fans of the series, though, not quite.
And so, that brings me to the next point. Regardless of the opinion on the situation and who’s involved, I want to step back and think about the core message here. There are two issues: One, authors getting told that their work is lesser because of their genre. And no, I’m not talking about the comment by that college student. That was her opinion, and she’s perfectly open to having it.
But some of the responses I’m seeing, like this one, are going a bit far. “Sarah, you write shitty teen romance YA, you’re not out here writing the next Booker Prize novel. “
This right here is uncalled for, in my personal opinion. Who the fuck (don’t pardon my language) cares if her genre is young adult? Why does that make her work ‘shitty’? Why is romance such a bad genre, especially if it depicts a relationship that isn’t toxic? Something else we need in books, nowadays. Again, not sure how or what she depicts, but it being YA and romance shouldn’t automatically make it trash.
Yes, the authors bombarding the criticism on the college student might have gone a little bit far. I don’t know, I didn’t look into it as much and didn’t care to. But seeing things like this makes me shake my head. The core of the issue is this: The superiority complex some readers and writers have toward each other is pathetic. Uncalled for, not cool, who cares if people have preferences.
Let people enjoy what they want. Sometimes even the smallest lessons are important. We learned from children’s books some of the most important lessons, did we not? Some of us cherish Disney, ‘silly’ romances from our childhood. Some of us like being taken away by these crazy adventures seen in YA novels.
Now, I’m not published yet. Not even in an indie fashion. But my words are just as valid as anyone else’s, because indeed I’m a thinking individual who has something to say.
Onto the other root of the issue now–criticism. I touched upon this before, but the reaction of many people in outrage is a bit much. This is where the other half of preferences comes to play. So this college student feels as though a particular novel isn’t worth reading. Hell, I think Hemingway is a waste of time to read, boring, and tasteless. Meanwhile, I’d champion things like Lord of the Rings any day, while still pointing out my likes and dislikes for it. No doubt people will HARDCORE judge me for that, but to that I merely shrug. I don’t really care what you think about what I enjoy.
In conclusion, all genre are valid. Be it a best-seller, YA, adult novel, nonfiction, erotica, who cares? If people enjoy the book, let them. We as authors put a lot of effort into our craft. There’s plenty of bad books out there and strong opinions. Which is why it’s also important to be able to take criticism. But do you always have to agree with it? No.