Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Hierarchy of Romance Writers

My monthly column is up at Romancing the Blog. It's a serious piece about class-consciousness among romance writers, and I hope you'll all read it before you finish reading this post, which is offered for a little comic relief:

Clip-n-Save! Clip-n-Save! Clip-n-Save!

The Hierarchy of Romance Writers

The British Peerage is a snap to figure out compared to the hierarchy of romance writers. Because many of us aren't quite sure when to bow, when to shake hands with, and when to snub the romance writers we meet at places like the annual RWA Conference, I have compiled this handy list for everyone to carry so we can all be confident about treating the romance writers we meet with the respect or disdain they deserve.

This list is still something of a work-in-progress, and it must be said that there are some overlaps between many of the classes, but as near as I have been able to determine from my careful observation of the behavior of romance writers online and at RWA conferences, I believe this list represents the realities. But I am a humble Class 6 Romance Writer, so naturally I don't know everything. I will of course bow to the wisdom of any writer above me if she believes I am in error. And I will welcome and seriously consider suggestions from my peers (Class 6 Romance Writers).

Those in Class 5 or below may offer suggestions; perhaps I will consider them.

Class 1
Nora. She's the Queen. No romance writer outranks her.
Everyone bows to Nora.

Class 2
New York Times Bestselling Authors.

Class 3
USA Today or Walden bestsellers who are also RITA winners.

Class 4
Ordinary RITA winners and
USA Today or Walden bestsellers who are not RITA winners.

Class 5
Authors who are multipublished by Big Name Houses.

Class 6
Authors who have had only one or two books published by Big Name Houses.

Class 7
Authors published by smaller and lesser-known RWA-accepted publishers.
(Excluding Ellora's Cave authors.)

Class 8
Authors published by non-RWA-accepted publishing houses.

Class 9
All e-published authors, excluding Ellora's Cave authors.

Class 10
Ellora's Cave authors.

Class 11
Unpublished writers who have won RWA's Golden Heart Award.

Class 12
All other unpublished writers.

Oops! Almost forgot!
Class 13
Self-published authors.


Friends, I hope you get a laugh out of this, but I also hope you get the message. We're all writers. Hooray for all of us!


Anonymous said...

Why is Nora, Queen Bee? and I have read some of her work

Brenda Coulter said...

I don't read her. But there's no denying her popularity, and her productivity is amazing.

Robin Bayne said...

Too funny. Sometimes the truth really hurts.

And yep, Nora is in a class by herself. LOL

Oh, and don't forget Class 14--the Vanity -published authors.

Kate R said...

I thought it would be a snap to learn this system, but there are many questions still open for interpretation. If I'm a class 6 or 7 (not sure where Zebra/Kensington is on your chart) and class 10 as well...oh, wait also I'm a class 9...does that mean I can only sit with the class 10 types? May I ask someone in the 2-6 class to pass the water pitcher or would I be better off getting up and getting the thing on my own?

Am I allowed to mix freely with the 7,8,9 and 10s or do we remain with Our Own? And is this for formal meals only? What about after several drinks in the bar?

What about publishers?

Kate R said...

and if I'm on an elevator or waiting in line with any of the classes 2-5, might I remark on the weather or should I wait for them to open the conversations?

Brenda Coulter said...

Kate, I have been studying this for only a couple of years, so I do not yet have a sufficient grasp of the Rules of Conduct to explain them to you. Heck, I'm not even sure I've got all the classes straight, and I haven't even started on the subclasses. But your elevator question isn't difficult to answer. Classes 2-4 take private elevators (Queen Nora is carried up the stairs on a litter) and they never have to stand in line, so you can relax; you will never find yourself in the situation you mention, unless it's with a Class 5 author. And you may speak to her if she speaks first.

As to where you fall in the heirarchy, you are a member of the highest class for which you qualify. I believe you are a low Class 6, which means you could probably hang with all but the snootiest of those authors. And on occasion, you may even come across a Class 5 author who will make friendly overtures.

It's not easy being a romance writer, but when things get rough, always remember that you can take your frustrations out on others by tormenting writers in all the classes below yours.

Chris said...

Brenda said: "you can take your frustrations out on others by tormenting writers in all the classes below yours."

to which could be added:

     "... and writers of Westerns." ;)

--Chris (dFm)

Anonymous said...

Hey(dfm) just what is wrong with westerns, I would like to know!

Chris said...

Why should anything be wrong with Westerns?

The point of Brenda's post is that there's ostensibly nothing wrong with a Class 10 author that should keep a Class 5 author from speaking to her (or him (or vice-versa)). But if we're buying into a writing caste system, then it seems to me the Western is below the Romance. (Vampire-Porn is below the Western, but those writers can get mean, so I hesitate to bring them into the conversation.)

The landscape might look different to you, and no one ought to look down on you if it does.

(now you've made me get all thoughtful, dangittoheck)


--Chris (dFm)

Anonymous said...

Sorry Chris, didn't mean to get you
so thoughtful, this sounds like they need to grow up to me, or they need a time out like all bad little kids do

Heather Diane Tipton said...

LOL Brenda, your posts always make me think or make me laugh. You are hilarious!

So basically...I being a class 12 could never speak to you a class 6? LOL I love it.

Silma said...

Oh, I'm in class 13. Okay, what should I do when I meet those from class 1 - 12? Lay down on the floor and let them walk all over me? *lol*