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SOCIAL STATUS among Authors? (1 Viewer)

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Mikeyboy_esq

Senior Member
Never seen this topic discussed before, but I'm curious to know if most people view all book authors as having the same "social status" or are authors viewed as having different social status based on the particular genre they write. In other words, are authors of CERTAIN GENRE typically viewed by the general public/reading community as having more value, respect, honor, and assumed competence than authors of other genre?

If there is a social hierarchy, what do you think it is from highest to lowest status? (e.g., 1-fiction, 2-nonfiction, 3-poetry, 4-children's books, 5-cook books, etc.) Similarly, do fiction authors have their own hierarchy of social status based on the particular type of fiction they write?

What say you?
 
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Olly Buckle

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Patron
The genre does not seem like an important factor to me. I would think the quality of the writing is the main thing, and that could be assessed in two ways, by the opinion of the literary professionals and intelligentsia, and by the number of books they sell, or the opinion of the general public in other words. Sometimes the two coincide, how far up the scale you are is a matter of opinion in one school, and of numbers in the other.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
I don't think someone who writes a cookbook is very concerned what writers of fiction think about them.

True if it is your run of the mill, average, cook book and it is the opinion of any old run of the mill fiction writer; but what if it is someone trying to do something new and different in writing about cookery and develop a literary style and a well known literary figure and writer of fiction writes a review of it , bet your life they are concerned. See what I mean about it is not really the genre that counts? Its the writing. Another way of looking at it than the people who assess it is by the qualities they are assessing. Could be by the direct quality of writing, the way they put the words together, or it could be by the ideas behind what they are writing. That can be true for a fiction writer or a cookery writer, but there is no reason why one could not appreciate one of those qualities in another, and I reckon any author worth his salt will care about the appreciation of his readers, even if they do write about something completely different.
 

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
Cookery book writers have their own social hierarchy depending which celebrity chef published it. BUT I'd rather have a Delia Smith or Mary Berry book than a Gordon Ramsey or Jamie Oliver's some of their recipes probably come close to fiction on prep and cooking times. :)

As for fiction, yes, I believe there is a social hierachy both readers and authors and I have heard the phrase: genre shaming being banded about For example are all these authors equal? E. L. James (erotica). J.K Rowling (Fantasy) John Grisham (Legal Thrillers).

Out of the three I would place legal thrillers way ahead of fantasy and erotica/fanfic at the bottom.

Nonfiction I don't know.

If there is a social hierarchy, what do you think it is from highest to lowest status? (e.g., 1-fiction, 2-nonfiction, 3-poetry, 4-children's books, 5-cook books, etc.)

It's like comparing apples to oranges. But if pressed I would say: nonfiction including cookbooks), fiction, poetry, children's books.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
How could you possibly write a "literary" cookbook?

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luckyscars

WF Veterans
Similarly, do fiction authors have their own hierarchy of social status based on the particular type of fiction they write?

Honestly? I think it's really hard and rather unnecessarily foolish to 'go there' given egos. But, yeah, if you put a gun to my head, I think there is a kind of hierarchy (within fiction, not sure about the comparisons with cookbooks) which is NOT based on the actual quality or anything but rather just the kind of 'reputation' and representation certain genres receive through layman discourse and media:

- Literary fiction is clearly at the top. Should it be? Possibly not, but it is. This is our equivalent of 'Oscar' material.

- Historical fiction & Memoir. I would put this a close runner up because a lot of it is considered pretty literary and it is often written by academics or other 'serious' people. There's a lot that falls under historical fiction, but I'm talking about the high-end, less genre-y stuff. Ken Follet, etc. This stuff can win the Oscars pretty often also.

- Science Fiction: Roughly at the same level as Historical: Tends to enjoy a pretty good reputation due to being another 'brainy' genre, rather like litfic, though undermined slightly by the sheer quantity of trash. Occasionally flirts with Oscars.

- Romance: This can be rather varying. Some romantic fiction is considered classic, others very much not so.

- Mystery, Thrillers & Crime - Commercial: I would put this either at the bottom of the top-tier or top of the bottom tier depending on the writer and subject matter.

- Fantasy: With notable exceptions, Fantasy seems to struggle to be taken seriously. Possibly due to its traditional popularity among the kind of people who struggle to put on deodorant in the morning.

- Horror: As something of a horror-ish writer myself, it pains me a little bit to accept this, but this is a really rough one. Horror is popular. It's also deeply unpopular. The word is probably 'polarizing'. You either really like horror or you don't. Unfortunately, a lot of the people who really like horror don't seem to work for Simon & Schuster or the Booker Prize panel. There are some well-respected horror writers, sure, but not terribly many. The relative stigma is probably why many horror writers try to avoid using the label -- 'this is PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER SUSPENSE'. No mate, it's horror. Horror don't win Oscars, sorry.

- Western: People don't value this genre much anymore. Considered a vehicle for a lot of toxicity. Pity, really.

- YA/MG: It's down here only because a lot of people don't consider childrens writing 'real writing'.

- Graphic novels: Like YA/MG, unfortunately.

- The weird stuff lives at the bottom: Splatterpunk, steampunk, dieselpunk, anything 'punk', absurdism, erotica.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
True if it is your run of the mill, average, cook book and it is the opinion of any old run of the mill fiction writer; but what if it is someone trying to do something new and different in writing about cookery and develop a literary style and a well known literary figure and writer of fiction writes a review of it , bet your life they are concerned. See what I mean about it is not really the genre that counts? Its the writing. Another way of looking at it than the people who assess it is by the qualities they are assessing. Could be by the direct quality of writing, the way they put the words together, or it could be by the ideas behind what they are writing. That can be true for a fiction writer or a cookery writer, but there is no reason why one could not appreciate one of those qualities in another, and I reckon any author worth his salt will care about the appreciation of his readers, even if they do write about something completely different.

Off topic a bit - my apologies.

My wife is Indonesian - and according to my mother in law, and some islands still have cannibals. The government denies this... but you know - that could just be propaganda... or not.

Anyway - I've been after her for years to make a funny cookbook named after one of our favorite Twilight Zone episodes - "How to Serve Man". Of course the recipes would be fictional - substituting steak or hamburger for human meat, and giving the dish a funny name. I'd love to see her do that one day, at the least, it would be something to pass down to our daughters.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Regarding the topic -

Of course, among some groups if you're writing romance, or horror, or scifi, or fantasy - you're not a real writer. Real writers write historical epics filled with hundred dollar words, and the rest of us are hacks.

But really, who cares? Those folks have their heads shoved shoulders deep up their own ass, because just smelling their own farts isn't enough.
 

Sir-KP

Senior Member
- literary fiction/non-fiction with classic English words that barely used today
- poetry
- non-fiction
- fiction
- The How to be Rich, How to Get Laid, etc. motivational books

I guess...
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
The way I see it is:

The Classics
Epic Poetry
Literary Fiction
Non-Fiction
Historical Fiction
Other Poetry
Contemporary Fiction
Crime / Thriller
Horror
Anything with the "~punk" suffix
Wattpad
Scrawled notes of any kind
Graffiti on bathroom walls
Discarded noodles, preferably on the street outside a takeaway.
Unmentionables in the sink
Inexplicable brown stains on bathroom walls
Dog poo
Slime
Base matter (loosely arranged)
Fantasy
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
How could you possibly write a "literary" cookbook?

Try putting 'literary cookbooks' into Google. If you are trying to sell a set of instructions to produce a meal in competition with many others better writing would appear to be an obvious way to make it stand out. Better meals would be a good option, sure, but making it as good as you can all round seems sensible. I am not greatly into cooking, but I remember reading with interest a book of Chinese cookery which explained the various regional cooking methods according to the types of fuel available as well as ingredients, it was a good and interesting read. I made the egg fried rice once or twice :)
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
Try putting 'literary cookbooks' into Google. If you are trying to sell a set of instructions to produce a meal in competition with many others better writing would appear to be an obvious way to make it stand out. Better meals would be a good option, sure, but making it as good as you can all round seems sensible. I am not greatly into cooking, but I remember reading with interest a book of Chinese cookery which explained the various regional cooking methods according to the types of fuel available as well as ingredients, it was a good and interesting read. I made the egg fried rice once or twice :)

I personally think there's a market for literary cookbooks.

"You are a man quite incorrigible!" yelled Bob, throwing the lonely level teaspoon's worth of crushed garlic (how Andy hated the stuff) onto the small dollop of olive oil that had been simmering there these three minutes past, a greasy pool of unrequited something. "I shall deny you this Thai chicken curry that serves five!"

The cubes of breast on the chopping board - they were naught but 750g of wasted years. So what if he was to sauté them for fifteen minutes till browned? It barely mattered that he - Bob - might add an optional sprig of coriander to the tainted mess.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
The egg fried rice recipe stuck with me partly because it was written by her mathematician husband.

"Break three eggs into a bowl by knocking them one against the other. It is practical to adopt a numbering system that counts the egg that breaks as the next egg in the series."
 

TheManx

Senior Member
I really want to be seen as literary writer. When I go out, I wear a cable sweater and tweed jacket with patches on the elbows. I carry a pipe, and when people talk to me, I put it in my mouth and look thoughtfully into the distance. If I'm drunk, well, that adds to the effect...
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
The way I see it is:

The Classics
Epic Poetry
Literary Fiction
Non-Fiction
Historical Fiction
Other Poetry
Contemporary Fiction
Crime / Thriller
Horror
Anything with the "~punk" suffix
Wattpad
Scrawled notes of any kind
Graffiti on bathroom walls
Discarded noodles, preferably on the street outside a takeaway.
Unmentionables in the sink
Inexplicable brown stains on bathroom walls
Dog poo
Slime
Base matter (loosely arranged)
Fantasy

I know this list may not be particularly scientific ;) But do you think fantasy ranks below horror in terms of social acceptance?

I feel like even though fantasy isn't taken terribly seriously it nevertheless doesn't suffer from the same stigma as horror does. Fantasy may still often be considered a refuge for man-children and smelly basement-dwellers rather than Real Writers, but I feel like those of us who enjoy horror suffer from similar levels of social stigma with additional baggage. Fantasy, for all the dismissiveness with which it is often treated, and in spite of the grimmer modern iterations, seems usually considered morally harmless. I can imagine telling somebody I am a fantasy author and getting nothing more than a smirk and a bit of pretend interest.

Horror has baggage, though. Might depend on where you live, but around 'these parts' it's the kind of thing that often not only gets scorned as being cheap, childish trash but also morally dubious. The impression I always get from a lot of people (who claim to like reading) when I tell them I write horror stories is '...um, oh.' It's one of those genres where people seem to conflate the subject matter with the morality of the author a hell of a lot.
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
From what I've seen, Romance authors get a pretty bad rep.

They're often put pretty low on the "fiction hierarchy", because there's a perception that Romance is corny fluff, and not to be taken seriously.
 
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