The random—and not so random—musings of a quirky Regency romance writer.
No one with that many people in her head can possibly be normal...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

♥Romance Opinions ♥ Romance: Selling Point or Turn Off?

Several months ago I asked a question on facebook that got me thinking (as if I wasn't already thinking to have asked the Q in the first place). Here is my exact post: 

"{I'm gonna ask this here, since my friends list is made up of all types of friends, not just people who know me for my writing.} Hubby says I'm doing myself a disservice by calling my books romances. What do you think? Do you immediately lose interest when the term "romance" (in reference to a book) is mentioned? Why or why not?"

The responses I got were varied and interesting ... and perhaps something I already knew. However, they still made me think. 

For example, one person mentioned that 80% of book sales are romances. True, and when looked at that way, it's hard to think calling my books romances would be a disservice. 

However, more than one (women, mind you) mentioned that they avoid the romance sections in stores and libraries. Whether it was the assumption the books contain graphic sex or unrealistic plots, the reaction was the same: Complete avoidance

One admitted that if we weren't published with the same company, she never would have picked up one of my books. But she did and loved them because "they are SO much more than romance." 

Which is exactly why my husband says I'm doing myself a disservice. In addition, he says calling them romances misleads romance fans into expecting a typical romance and they may not like finding out otherwise.

When I asked the question again, later, a discussion ensued in regard to the definition of historical fiction (HF) vs. literary fiction (LF). It was determined then that my books do not qualify as HF since HF typically focuses around a specific historical event or person. LF seems to be more character-driven, in-depth, psychological offerings. It appears that, in the broadest sense, my books are literary fiction with a historical setting.

I seem to have stumbled into my own genre. And that makes marketing a nearly impossible task. Books are required to be listed as something in all the retail stores. I figured "clean historical romance" or "clean Regency romance" best describes my books even though not everyone agrees with the "clean" assessment...but that's another post entirely.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Is the word "romance" a turn off? Why or why not? 

There's a jukebox in my head. It's currently playing
♫♪ Faye Wong ~ Eyes On Me 


Rachel Rossano said...

I always thought of romance as a character-driven story where the main relationship is between a boy and girl/boyfriend and girlfriend/husband and wife. The stronger the plot around the relationship the broader the appeal. However, it is well known that I grew up under a rock, don't understand all common references, and come up with my own expectations based on experience. So, otherwise, don't consider my expectations as realistic. :)

As far as historical, I consider any story set in a time period before ours as historical unless it is fantasy. Some historical novels focus on a historic event or figure, but I have read many which are tales told in relative isolation.

Anne Ashby said...

Hi Jaimey
I suspect there is a lot of truth in your husband's words. There are so many who scoff at romance, or are closet romance readers (I used to be). Perhaps we should come up with genre that will become vogue - like clean has replaced sweet - not that I can suggest any right now. Nothing wrong with being an individual, good luck

Joyce DiPastena said...

I had an editor tell me that my books don't fit a recognized category, too. Her precise words: "They have too much plot to be a romance and not enough pageantry to be historicals." So where does that leave me, too? Most readers accept my books as historical romances, but some of my lower reviews come from readers who think my books have too much plot or history and don't spend enough time on the relationships. Personally, I've always viewed my books more as romantic historicals than historical romances, but that's not really a category. You won't find a romantic historical section in the bookstore. Bottom line, you're not going to please everyone, no matter how you choose to categorize your books. If you call them romances, some readers won't think they're romantic enough. If you call them literary, some readers will think they have too much romance. We have to pick our own poison, then live with it. :-}

Stephan Gathings said...

I have had this problem also. I've been told that mine is not what most consider a Romance-type' story. That it is a love story. Nearly all romance readers have expectations and the writer is told that is must have a 'happy ever after ending' or you will disappoint them and be given a poor review. I have found that too many of these type of books have no real, if any, character development and the plots are weak, but are full of lusty scenes and are basically in most cases just a form of porn. If your work has depth, shows a journey of self-development, and what real love is all about, then I believe it is a literary category. Historical depends on the time period of course. Mine starts in the 60's and into this century, but I do not label it for history. I agree with Joyce D. that you have to pick the cat but not disappoint the readers.Best wishes--Stephan James Gathings


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