I got a call from a Facebook friend objecting to my description of Rose’s Will as upmarket fiction. “Doesn’t that sound just a little conceited? Not that your book isn’t better than 90% of the others out there,” she said, “but it’s probably a term better left to your readers to decide.”
After the call, I scoured the internet for publishing terms, and indeed, by some standards, the term is controversial. What a surprise! Do I ever do anything that isn’t controversial? Despite ruffling a few feathers, however, upmarket fiction has come into it’s own right as a standard genre. More and more agents and publishers are requesting it.
What is upmarket fiction? Basically, it’s commercial/mainstream fiction with enough literary elements to appeal to the literary reader, making it span both genres and therefore have wider appeal. It is typically a character-driven story, with vibrant language, well-developed characters, and dimension that, by turns, expresses wisdom, irony, insight, and humor.
Rose’s Will is no Odyssey, but I’ve held it to a higher standard. Am I not entitled to use the term to describe it? What do you think?
EDIT: Here’s a link to an article by Chuck Sambuchino. I met him at a writer’s conference last year. He’s an expert on the subject.