MashupCoverI was at a Writer’s League of Texas meeting this summer, the annual Agents & Editors Conference. An agent on the panel said, “Don’t think of writing in a genre as a way to settle. Think of it as a way in to getting your story read.”

I had a client once who said he was worried that his book didn’t seem to fit in any of the publishing categories like science fiction, or romance, or thriller. The book had all of those elements. Sell it as a combination, I suggested. Blade Runner meets The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Now Amazon is showing us that genre is the fastest way to a career as a writer. A new program, exclusively for writers of science fiction, romance, and mystery, is going online in a few weeks. “Authors whose books are selected get a $1,500 advance and 50 percent royalties on net ebook revenue.” Not bad. The Net 50 part of that deal is pretty common for small presses. Some of the small press deals won’t even print a book at first — you get an ebook produced instead. The paperback comes later on.

At Amazon, you’ll submit your genre book as a Word file, and you have to dream up a cover. Then your completed story of more than 50,000 words gets crowd-sourced to see if it’s popular. How the mechanics of the latter will work remains to be seen.

But only genre stories are eligible. They’re usually closest to being ready for a publisher to sell. Still to come: genre crowdsourcing for historical fiction, horror-paranormal, fantasy and erotica. Length will be an issue with those last two. Fantasy probably cannot be done in under 120,000 words today. Erotica will struggle to get 50,000 words completed. Maybe there’s an erotica-fantasy combination that can be sold.

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