Square peg, round hole, hammerThis past week was the RWA national conference in San Diego. I’ve gone to national for mmmmppph years and I’ve always had a good time. Some years are more useful than others, but I have a lot of friends in the organization so it’s always fun.

But conferences are for more than fun, and national conferences—Bouchercon, Thrillerfest, RWA, RT—are expensive, and every year it becomes harder to justify, especially when I no longer really write romance. If I find a new agent at conference, won’t she mostly be romance? Will she have the kinds of connections I want with editors who might publish books in the direction I am going now?

But on the other hand, what conference might do a better job? If I no longer write romance, I don’t write mystery or thriller or horror, either. There are elements of all three in the two books I am in the process of editing. One has a bit of romance, one has almost none. One has a ghost, one does not. They both have relatively young heroines, but neither qualifies as YA by a long shot. I’m a member of MWA, RWA, ITW, and will probably end up joining HWA sooner or later, too. But I don’t feel my style fits solidly inside any of those genres.

As a person with a background in marketing, this kind of thing drives me batty. If I don’t know where the book fits, how do I expect an agent or editor to place it? It’s fiction that’s written for women, but I am not sure anyone would consider it women’s fiction.

And no, what I am currently writing is not suitable for self-pub. It is book club and library fodder. It needs wide print distribution, not a trickle of library sales when I can make it to a new system to donate it or sit on a panel.

When I was at RWA, people asked me what I was writing. What they wanted was “romantic suspense” or “new adult” or “contemporary” or “historical” or whatever. I couldn’t answer that. Someone said “what RITA category would you enter it in?” To that I said “none of them.” It was pretty much the most telling moment of the conference for me.

So I’ll be reevaluating my career in coming weeks and months. I’ll keep you up to date.