Writing In The Shadows

     Ok, bear with me here. I’m going to rant a little about something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. Why as romance writers are we looked down upon? You know you tell a friend you are writing a book and they ask what it’s about. All of a sudden you want to run for the hills. The looks and the comments. “Oh you write those kinds of books.” Most people see romance novels as trash and not worth the paper they are written on. I think it is a very sad point of view on the genre. We get a bad rap.

     The funny thing is romance novels are selling even when sales of other genres are down. This is what Harlequin had to say.

     Harlequin Enterprises, the queen of the romance world, reported that fourth-quarter earnings were up 32 percent over the same period a year earlier, and Donna Hayes, Harlequin’s chief executive, said that sales in the first quarter of this year remained very strong. While sales of adult fiction overall were basically flat last year, according to Nielsen Bookscan, which tracks about 70 percent of retail sales, the romance category was up 7 percent after holding fairly steady for the previous four years.

     At Barnes & Noble, the country’s largest book chain, where its chief financial officer, Joe Lombardi, recently warned that overall 2009 sales were likely to fall between 4 percent and 6 percent, sales of romance novels are up. And in the first three months of this year Nielsen Bookscan tracked a 2.4 percent rise in romance sales compared with a slight decline in sales of general adult fiction for the same period.

    While people may be hiding their choice of books in shame, their still buying them. I really don’t understand the taboo that is following romance readers and writers. Romance writers are just as talented as their fellow writers in other genres. But because our books are centered around romance we don’t measure up to the writers of other fiction genres, even though we are in the top sales and stay on a steady incline.

     Who are the readers of our romantic fiction? Well Romance Writers of America said this.

     Average reader being forty years of age. Sixty three percent are married. Fifty two percent work outside the home. Twenty two percent work in the home and eighteen percent are retired. Also the average reader is very well educated. Fifty six percent of current readers attended or graduated college. Forty three percent for the average U.S. woman. You won’t be surprised to learn that reading is their primary leasure activity.

     To me this says the women that read our books are hard working, educated and need an escape from the stress of their everyday lives. As romance writers we supply them with that fantasy. With so many genres in romance, we can pretty much appeal to anyone’s taste. Whether it’s suspence, paranormal, historical, contemporary and many more in just about any flavor you can think of. Romance novels range from sweet to hot and steamy. The thing about todays romance is women can relate to the characters. The heroins in modern romances are strong and know what they want. Their not the inocent please don’t hurt me types they use to be. I think this has made a big difference because the modern woman has changed so much, we work, raise our kids on our own and are much stronger than we used to be.

     Personally I am very proud of my hard work and accomplishments. I’m lucky enough to have friends and family that support me in all my efforts and love my writing. It’s a true blessing for people to believe in your dream. I refuse to hold my head down in shame. I work just as hard as any other author and write stories about love and triumph. How can you go wrong with love. If we had more love in this world it might be a better place. I encourage all romance writers and readers to hold your heads up and be proud. There shouldn’t be any shame in the fact that you enjoy reading or writing about two people who love each other dearly and would go to the end of the world for each other.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Happy reading and writing.

Tabitha Blake


9 responses to “Writing In The Shadows

  1. I think authors of erotica get looked down upon more than the standard romance writer. There is nothing quite like that look you get when you mention you write erotica. Women look at you like you are the whore of Babylon while men think you are an easy lay.

    Then you have the being snubbed if you are an eBook authour compared to print. I do wish people would understand that eBook is a legitimate format and just as difficult an industry as print.


  2. Tabitha, first, great post. Yes, whenever I say I am writing a novel, my palms start sweating before the person even asks me what type of novel.
    One comment I recieved was, ‘Ahh, I see. One of those, breasts heaving books.’
    I actually laughed this time. I couldn’t help it. Then I just simply said, ‘Yep, one of those breasts heaving books.’

    • Too funny Brenda, I know what you mean. But I think writing the hot and steamy stuff can be harder than writing anything else. You have to bring the scene to life with emotions and use all the senses. It can be tough to make it seem realistic but we manage to do it. But you are right you have to take other peoples oppinions with a grain of salt. Sometimes laughing is the best medicine.

  3. I rarely speak of my writing to friends anymore. And they don’t ask about my writing either. For me I get the feeling they don’t take it seriously. I’ve actually had one tell me I should write a YA novel because that is were the money is. I just shrugged and let it roll off my back.
    First, if you are writing for the money, then you may wind up disappointed no matter what you write. Writing is a hard, hard business. It may take years of hard work before you even see a cent.
    So, I generally keep my writing to myself.

  4. Yeah I understand that. Everyone thinks their going to get rich from thier writing. That isn’t the case for most writers. When I went to buy my computer my husband told the sales lady, we don’t need anything fancy just something she can write her book on. She asked what I was writing and I told her. She pretended to be interested but I really felt she was humoring me. She was trying to make the sale, you know don’t piss off the customer. LOL

  5. LOL, I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing with you. I can just picture that moment.
    I’ve seen the look of pretending to be interested. Though, I’m sure I’ve used that same look a time or two. When I’m pretending to be interested in my husband’s fishing trip stories.

  6. Note: The following is MY OPINION as a male writer of erotica who isn’t ashamed to admit it in public. None of this is verified fact, just what I observed from the responses to my hobby.

    I think the “Looking down on” is twofold – One is that romance writing is generally more cliché than the average “high” literature. Most romance readers are very happy to know that the book will follow a relatively set formula and that the hero and heroine are going to get together for some crazy physical intimacy and go on to live wonderful happy lives. This frustrates people writing “high” literature who feel the constant pressure to innovate and be “fresh” and thus they are slightly disparaging.

    Also, there is the way culture as a whole views romance novels – as “women porn”. People who write erotica are viewed as the literary equivalent of porn stars. It’s like saying, “Yeah, I work in porn,” when you say, “Yeah, I write erotica.” Just because the average person consumes porn, doesn’t mean they are willing to admit that they do.

  7. You may want to do things like fixing typos (their vs they’re, heroines vs heroins) on your blog entries and your web page before you whine about not being taken seriously. I follow several published romance authors on Twitter and Facebook, and not only are all of their fans intelligent, respectful and loving – they also don’t have a blatant typos in the things they post. Ever.

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