Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

Lessons of an Independent Author: The Power of Labels

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate labels?

Seriously, I hate having to categorize something as just one thing: one genre, one career, one type, one LABEL.

[caption id="attachment_8468" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Some of my (and my books) labels . . . but there are many more. Some of my (and my books) labels . . . but there are many more.[/caption]

I find it difficult to categorize any of my work into one genre because I write the story that needs to be told, in whatever format I need to tell it. Here at Woman Wielding Words, I blog about whatever inspires me or whatever I feel like. I can't call myself a Mom blogger or a comic blogger or a journal blogger or a political activist blogger  or anything else, even thought I write about all of those things and more. Perhaps that is why my active readers are limited to a very few.

In the reality of today's publishing world you must be able to categorize your book. Bookstores want to know what shelf to put it on. Online sellers want you to choose categories and tags to make it easier to find your book. This is where I ran into a stumbling block when I first started submitting to agents and publishers. I believe that P.O.W.ER fits many categories: dystopian, magical realism, fantasy, feminist, coming-of-age, speculative, young adult, women, political, action . . . But you can't market a book that way. It minimizes readership rather than maximizing it, because we live in a world where readers often follow genres and are not interested in anything that falls outside the genre.

That makes me sad because many of the greatest books in the world defy genre, or perhaps they defined genre.

But label yourself you must, and I still struggled. "Dystopian is dead" I was told at a conference last May (at least in the eyes of the biggest publishing companies). Of course, a good friend of mine who is a high school English teacher turned librarian/media expert tells me that dystopian is alive and kicking for young adult readers. In my opinion, Young Adult doesn't really exist (in terms of book marketing) because so many YA readers are actually older. Feminist can turn readers away, even though I fully embrace the term in my life.

Finally I settled on Young Adult Speculative/Feminist Fiction.

My readers, however, are redefining my labels for me:
"Lisa A. Kramer's debut novel P.O.W.ER is a tour de force of storytelling. Even though I don't usually bond with dystopian stories, I was captivated by the empowering call to women everywhere."--Andra Watkins

"It's an intriguing tale, and it is written like a tale. In the first few pages, I thought I was reading another book about a dystopian society with a female heroine a la Hunger Games or Divergent. But, this one is different. The teenagers aren't arrogant or snarky, but have depth and a sense of responsibility. It's not filled with violence; it's filled with ideas, the need for respect, and the need to resolve issues without violence. Lisa clearly brought her own value system to the sense of story, not compromising because of the need to build plot. This book does not "write down" to the stereotypical view of teenagers, but respects the reader's intelligence." --L. Branscomb

"Equal parts adventure story and call-to-peaceful-revolution, P.O.W.ER reaches out to a broad audience." --Cameron D. Garriepy

"Lisa Kramer's P.O.W. ER is a welcome addition to the YA dystopia family. Featuring a smart, linguistically talented female protagonist, Kramer novelly introduces a non-violent approach to solving the problem of fascist overloads, one that instead emphasizes intelligence and cooperation over brute force. She dares to point her finger solidly at religious extremism, misogyny, and an undervaluing of creativity, the arts, and individualism as dire perils to democracy. One can't help but notice that this novel needn't actually be set in the future--the roots of these threats have already taken hold and so P.O.W. ER sounds the warning siren for the world's notice. For teens, P.O.W. ER is more accessible than The Handmaid's Tale and especially sends the message that teen girls should be valued for their unique talents and abilities while men and women must work together to achieve equality in a democracy." --Kristine J. Schmidt.
While the feminist label has, perhaps, turned away some readers the book is indeed proving to have a wide readership:
"This book is for anyone who loves a good fiction story and wants to get their mind of everyday tasks. Before I picked up the book, by the title, P.O.W.E.R. referring to power of women I was under the impression this was more of a book to be enjoyed by women but this was not the case and I was pleasantly surprised." --Norman O'Grady

" Other reviews have comparison to the recent dystopia YA literature such as Hunger Games, but this novel is closer to City of Ember in the characters and arc of the story.There is action and adventure that will appeal to all readers."--Nathan K. Lee
Today, at the PUYB Virtual Book Club I discuss the feminist label, plus you learn a bit more about the character of Andra BetScrivener. Pop on over and say hello.

How do you feel about labels and genres? Do you label yourself in life? Where does P.O.W.ER fit in?