Guest post by Meryl Davids Landau, author of Downward Dog, Upward Fog
I never expected my novel to get a “cute stiletto” rating, but there it was on a women’s fiction blog last month, rated the most adorable of the her shoe-style ratings: the hot high heels that signify the blogger “absolutely loved it and wants a sequel.” Of course, it’s not a total stretch; on the surface, the novel does meet the criteria for contemporary women’s fiction, a genre some call chick-lit.
Main character Lorna has a good job, a hot boyfriend, a great group of girlfriends, and a problematic, overly critical mother. But rather than revolving around her job or relationships, the plot centers on her spiritual evolution—whether she can learn to take her budding spiritual practice off her yoga mat and into her daily life, especially when a personal tragedy strikes (read PJ’s review).
I knew spiritually seeking women like me would be interested in reading a story like this. What I didn’t anticipate—indeed, I probably would have bet against–was the enthusiastic reception the book has gotten by mainstream chick-lit book bloggers, and by readers who had never even put a toe down a personal spiritual path before. When my novel came out last summer, the book’s publicist and I were in total agreement that spiritual media—blogs, radio shows, magazines, those free newsy publications given out in health-food stores…—would be the best target.
As an aside, I sent books to a few mainstream book bloggers. Her publicity efforts yielded great results, but, surprisingly, so did mine. The first review in a general interest book blog gave the novel 5 out of 5 stars, with the writer noting that “anyone could, after reading this book, choose to begin a similar spiritual journey with a level of comfort she may not have had before.” (I suspect she was talking about herself.) Several glowing reviews on other general book blogs followed.
I still would not have thought bloggers who focus on contemporary women’s fiction would be open to the spirituality in my novel. But, this fall, on the reading website Goodreads, I linked up with a woman who happened to be the publicist for the blog, Chick Lit Central. That interest—and their subsequent glowing review—gave me the confidence to contact other pink-paged reviewers. In my email pitch, I was clear about my novel’s deep, spiritual theme.
To my amazement, a majority of chick-lit bloggers I contacted expressed interest, and several have already sung the novel’s praises in their reviews–with quite a few enthusing over the originality of using the chick-lit genre in this new way.
The moral I’ve learned from this story: The audience for a spiritual novel isn’t limited to people who are already on a spiritual path. As long as the spirituality is accessible and not preachy, regular people will feel resonance, too. I’m looking forward to getting more of those stiletto ratings—and if you’ve written a spiritual novel, you should anticipate them, too!