Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Question from a Writer - The stereotyping of romance authors

Good Morning:
I love romance. And I enjoy writing romance. And I think that romance is the genre I will best fit into. (See, I'm faithfully reading your blog each morning, and along with learning to write better and better, I am also researching the market and considering my future career. Just like you instruct us newbies to do.)

Ok. So, I've crawled out from behind the laptop and experimented with a bit of professional schmoozing, only to trip and fall face first into the big boulder: Stereotyping. I've heard it's out there, but this is my first encounter with "romance writers are not real writers" – they are more a sub-class of writers, who if they are lucky, might grow up to be "real" writers someday.

Ok. I've been learning to plot and a hundred other techniques that should give me a great piece of writing, even if it is romance. And it's darn hard work. So I don't accept this particular stereotyping doctrine. Not in the least. But I'm still a novice. And that boulder hurts.

How do romance writers handle this kind of prejudice?

I hear you on this one! It is a shame that some writers out there feel the need to put down others just to make themselves feel better about their writing. There are a couple of things I would recommend putting out there for those people who have said this to you, and even for those of you out there who might be thinking this right now.

This information comes from the Romance Writers of America. Please have people take a look at these numbers.

(source: Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2013)
  • Romance fiction generated $1.438 billion in sales in 2012.
  • Romance was the top-performing category on the best-seller lists in 2012 (across the NYT, USA Today, and PW best-seller lists).
  • Romance fiction sales are estimated at $1.350 billion for 2013.
  • 74.8 million people read at least one romance novel in 2008. (source: RWA Reader Survey)
Now add in...

(source: Simba Information estimates)
  • Romance fiction: $1.438 billion in estimated revenue for 2012
  • Religion/inspirational: $717.9 million
  • Mystery: $728.2 million
  • Science fiction/fantasy: $590.2 million
  • Classic literary fiction: $470.5 million
Romance writing is difficult in the simple fact that it isn't just a matter of creating a story with great characters, you have to work within the parameters of the characteristics of a romance genre. Now, if you are writing for a category line, you have to add in meeting those requirements as well including the theme of the line, the word count of the line and so forth.

I do believe, however, that many romance authors do bring a lot of this on themselves by making comments when people find out you write books such as "Well, you know it is just romance." I am sorry to say this but it isn't just romance! As I said before in the prior paragraph, this is tough writing.

When I first started Greyhaus in 2003, I decided to focus strictly on this genre. Why? Because this is a worthwhile genre to deal with and it deals with people. These are stories about human emotions, feelings and relationships. These are stories, that if told poorly, are really bad!

I would also go so far as to challenge many of these writers out there who think, as you put it in your question/comment that "romance writers are not real writers" – they are more a sub-class of writers, who if they are lucky, might grow up to be "real" writers someday." to get their butts out there and write one without coming across as stereotypical, cliche and formulaic as they often try to claim this writing is.

I applaud the authors out there who write romance. I applaud those authors who stand up and proclaim loud and proud they are romance authors. I applaud the Romance Writers of America for standing up and saying that this is what the organization represents and if you want to write in this genre, you are open and VERY welcome.

You ask, "How do romance writers handle this kind of prejudice?" Stand up to these people. You write that fantastic romance novel. In the end, I am betting that you will be the person who is published and these other writers will still be throwing those boulders and remain unpublished!


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