“Visionary Fiction” Now Officially on Wikipedia

Exciting news for all Visionary Fiction authors, readers and lurkers:
As of August 2014 a entry entitled “Visionary fiction” has been published on Wikipedia at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visionary_fiction Continue reading

Celebrating Visionary Fiction Pioneer Monty Joynes

Monty Joynes’ achievements are too many and his writings, Visionary Fiction and otherwise, too numerous and varied to cover in the space allotted to a single post. Here I can just hope to put enough, garnished with links leading deeper, to arouse VF authors to curiosity about the life and work of a writer who deserves to be studied and emulated as a stellar model of both the spirit and substance, the art and the craft, of visionary fiction. Continue reading

Visionary and Metaphysical Fiction: Wedding Bells?

Perhaps those nerdy BISAC categorizers knew more than they let on when they gave VF and MF a joint address in their code. To paraphrase a famous biblical injunction: “What BISAC has joined together let no writer put asunder.” Instead of arguing whether it is VF or MF, perhaps we can settle for V&M, with separate studies and/or bedrooms provided for the persnickety. Continue reading

What is NOT Visionary Fiction?

It came to mind that a backdoor approach to the key question—What is Visionary Fiction?—might yield valuable insight into this genre’s elusive definition. So let’s take a look, for a lark, at what is not visionary fiction. Continue reading

VF as a Genre: Part 4 – Populating BISAC’s VF Category

IN THE EARLIER SEGMENTS OF THIS SERIES we imparted good news (the up-and-coming BISAC system provides a high-level unique code for Visionary & Metaphysical Fiction) and bad news (authors and vendors don’t use the code often enough to make VF books easily accessible to readers). In this section I’ll follow up on the complexities of proper categorization and make some suggestions that will not handicap the individual VF author in the short run but build a robust VF collection in the near future. Continue reading

VF as a Genre: Part 3 BISAC Buy-in

(The second of a four-part series that explores a hidden root of  the problem in popularizing Visionary Fiction as a genre and proposes a nifty ready-made solution to it.)

Click link to read Part 1: The Fiction Prejudice
Click link to read Part 2: The BISAC Solution

BEFORE GETTING TOO COZY in the permanent home (Main Subject Category) and distinctive address (FIC039000 FICTION / Visionary & Metaphysical) that BISAC has provided VF, we have to assess BISAC’s current status and staying power as the standard for an industry struggling to adjust to the revolution wrought by the advent of electronic media. So, a look at a few key questions with brief answers (with links for those who want to delve more deeply).

Is BISAC Followed in Brick-and-mortar Bookstores?

A December 19, 2013 comment from Len Vlahos, who has skin in the game, provides a succinct response:

 I’m the Executive Director of BISG, and can shed some light here. BISAC Subject Codes are a voluntary industry standard. Many, if not all, large retailers use the BISAC Codes as a basis for identifying content, but then augment those codes based on their own customer intelligence. The retailers consider this augmentation to be a kind of special sauce. This is, of course, one of the challenges of voluntary standards, but we’re still pleased at how widely adopted and used BISAC codes are.

The stumbling blocks in Mr. Vlahos’s statement lie in the words voluntary and special sauce. Publishers are not always required to submit a BISAC Code for a book, and bookstores can cook BISAC codes to their taste. We will dissect these potential snafus as we proceed.

Continue reading

VF as a Genre: Part 2-The BISAC Solution

(The second of a three-part series that explores a hidden root of  the problem in popularizing Visionary Fiction as a genre and proposes a nifty ready-made solution to it.)

Click link to read Part 1: The Fiction Prejudice

Marketing Categories

Since libraries aim to retain books and bookstores to sell them, no wonder a category system that works in libraries fails vendors, at least when it comes to fiction. Booksellers have to accommodate the browsing nature of fiction buyers, and a single collection in order by author does not cut it. Their early deviations from the library norm were stopgap measures attempted intuitively by store managers: front counter displays, attractive covers facing out, wall posters, and mass media advertising.

GenreTraditionally, fiction has been separated by form (Comedy, Poetry, Novel, Short Story, Drama, etc.) or genre (Historical, Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and so forth). Shelving by form rarely serves the browsing customer; sorting by genre gets closer since it groups books of a similar nature.

Expand the genre paradigm a bit and enter a new method called Marketing Category, which places books likely to be bought by the same readers together. As Jim Henry III described: “For example, when sorting by Marketing Category one would place non-fiction about science fiction together with science fiction; and some non-fiction by authors known for their science fiction would be placed with science fiction, such as Robert Heinlein’s book about his travels around the world, Tramp Royale.”

Marketing Category, as best practice for publishers, manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, and retailers, evolved from the work of the Book Industry Study Group founded in … Continue reading

VF as a Genre: Part 1-The Fiction Prejudice

(The first of a three-part series that explores a hidden root of  the problem in popularizing Visionary Fiction as a genre and proposes a nifty ready-made solution to it.)

All Fiction to the Back of the Bus

If you’ve felt that writing fiction is sometimes perceived as second-class to writing non-fiction, know that the apparent prejudice is not the product of your imagination. Speaking of the endemic “disdain that the library profession has held for fiction and for fiction readers through the last century,” in her Master’s thesis in Library Science, Kerri L. Huff explains:  “The professional librarian saw fiction as ‘being unreal or nonfactual’ and not ‘worthy of serious study’. Librarians were educated to try to convert fiction readers with the ‘uplift theory’ by using the reader’s light fiction reading as a step in the way to turning them onto reading ‘classics’ or non-fiction, otherwise ‘appropriate’ literature.” Such intellectual bias would perhaps be tolerable if, on asking for the Visionary Fiction section in a library, you had only to endure being shuttled off a remote annex where, you were told, all fiction was kept. You’d expect, when you got there, to find a map, a floor plan, or at least signage separating the vast fiction collection by type or subject matter. Instead you would learn that all fiction, no matter the genre, is shelved by author name. “A public library’s adult fiction collection is seemingly organized for the convenience of the librarian and therefore, it has been assumed for the convenience of the patron,” Huff says of this arrangement.

Dewey Did It

Melvil_Dewey_1891To find the culprit for this institutionalized prejudice … Continue reading

Guest Post: Setting the Stage: Visionary & Metaphysical Fiction

Karen M. Rider

Genres

Setting the Literary Stage for Visionary & Metaphysical Fiction

Rapid-fire change is ongoing in the publishing industry—and it’s not just in the way books are produced, marketed and distributed. Perhaps like no other period in literary history, writers are experimenting with voice, style and format. Such literary exploration arises from both a writer’s creative urge and in response to market trends. This has led to the emergence of new genres and a shift in the way books are marketed and categorized. On physical and digital bookstore shelves,  we find books grouped as  “alternate historical fiction”, “slipstream” and “paranormal romance.” These categories may arise from official sources (e.g., the Library of Congress), publishers and sometimes from authors and readers. Rarely is there agreement and many books can be placed in more than one category. For example, novelist Alice Hoffman’s book The Story Sisters has Library of Congress designations as Fiction/Psychological fiction/Loss/Mothers & Daughters. The same book has been described as a literary magical realism (for which Hoffman is most widely known) and mystical fiction. (It even popped up under fantasy on my Goodreads profile—and this book is definitely not Fantasy.) M.J. Rose’s series of novels dealing with the quest for tools that can reveal past life memories (The Reincarnationist, The Book of Lost Fragrances) are categorized as suspense right on the cover. On Amazon, these books were once listed under both suspense and occult; now you can find them under metaphysical.

Within a major genre, the waters in which we swim get even murkier. The sub-genres of the speculative fiction market have always … Continue reading