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Blog Hopping: Demon Porn, Pondering, and Who Speaks for Romance?

by Sarah on December 19, 2009 · 11 comments

Here are a few links to posts I particularly enjoyed this week.

Author Meljean Brook’s excellent response to the latest claims that romance novels are nothing but chick porn. Caution: if you like your books pure, do not click on this link!

Limecello is pondering at The Good, The Bad and The Unread.

Jessica has another thought-provoking post at Racy Romance Reviews. She asks: Who Speaks for Romance and What Do They Say About Us?

Reading Jessica’s post, two things struck me. Firstly, the negative perception of romance readers has not changed over the years, despite some recent positive coverage. Secondly, the media used to solicit opinions from a wider range of readers, whereas it’s now narrowed to just a couple of bloggers. My response: no one speaks FOR me, nor do I speak FOR anyone else. And absolutely no one tells me what to think.

In my not so humble opinion, romance readers and authors can be overly defensive of the genre. I don’t see why they should bother. Sales of romance novels should speak for themselves. Let’s take a look at the Romance Writers of America’s latest statistics on Romance Market Share in Comparison to  Other Genres:

  • Romance fiction: $1.37 billion in estimated revenue for 2008
  • Religion/inspirational: $800 million
  • Mystery: $668 million
  • Science fiction/fantasy: $551 million
  • Classic literary fiction: $446 million

Do you care what people think of your preference for romance novels? I have to say that I’m beyond caring. I’m not looking to convert the masses. Tastes differ. The romance genre won’t appeal to everyone. Those who dismiss it without giving it an honest try might be depriving themselves of some good books. But that is their problem.

On that merry note, I wish you all a nice weekend!


RKCharron December 19, 2009 at 14:50

Hi Sarah :)
Thanks for the post & the links.
The rest of the publishing industry is in the throes of change & woe, but romance sales are steadily climbing. (Too bad about Harlequin).
Merry Christmas,

Magdalen December 19, 2009 at 14:57

Okay, literary fiction authors get (sometimes) critical praise but would like readers to actually buy & read their books.

Mystery authors would like their books to be considered more than mere “cozies.”

Science fiction authors would also like readers to know that their books are about real people and (yes) stuff that matters to us today. Oh, and more reviews in mainstream media and more sales would be nice, too.

And romance authors would like the whole world to know that it’s not just porn for women, or poorly written sex=love fantasies, and that while the industry is worth billions, most authors get paid in numbers with only 4 or 5 zeros!

Wow — writers are grumpy gusses!

Venus Vaughn December 20, 2009 at 01:25

I am SO with you there. Romance readers are especially defensive, and when one acts that way, it makes those on the offensive think you actually do have something of which to be ashamed.

I don’t care if people know that I read and write romances. If they’re going to judge without ever having read some, that’s their problem. They’re gonna have to live with that closed mind forever.

If they don’t have enough respect for me to respect my entertainment choices, why would I want them in my life anyway?

K.C. Smokinhotbooks December 20, 2009 at 01:52

I was cracking up on Meljean Brooks post! The BDSM image has to be my favorite.

I don’t really care if people know I read romnace books. Would I want my ubber conservative hard core Christian cousins knowing I read “erotic romance” or my father looking at my book covers from Ellora’s Cave? Probably not.

Great post!

heidenkind December 20, 2009 at 06:25

I agree that we tend to be overly defensive about romance. Even I have been defensive about it on occasion. But I totally agree that the numbers speak for themselves. Obviously romance isn’t a narrowly-appealing genre.

Marissa December 20, 2009 at 21:15

I must admit I always defend my romance books to others, why I don’t know, it is the automatic pilot in me… Nobody reads them, yet this genre is selling big… I have this huge bookcase in my livingroom so anyone who visits me knows exactly what I read and I don’t care anymore what they think. I love my romance books!

Sarah December 20, 2009 at 21:41

@RKCharron: It is amazing that people continue to dismiss romance novels when their sales continue to rise. I’d love to know how many closet romance readers there are out there!

@Magdalen: Nice summary. Spot on, I think.

@Venus Vaughn: Thank you! I just shrug when people make fun of me for liking romance novels. I used to be ashamed to admit I read them but I really don’t care anymore.

@K.C. Smokinhotbooks: That was my fave picture, too!

@heidenkind: There you go.

@Marissa: I used to go on the defensive but now I just don’t engage. It’s not worth it.

Alexia561 December 21, 2009 at 05:49

I’ve never made it a secret that I love romances, but I do admit to reading books with racy covers in the privacy of my own home. Too embarrassing to read them in public, as some of the covers are ridiculous. Maybe the cheesy covers aren’t helping the public’s perceptions of romance readers?

Wendy December 21, 2009 at 19:51

Do you care what people think of your preference for romance novels?

I care, because it’s my job to care. I have no problem with people saying “Meh, romance novels aren’t my thing.” I DO have problems with people who say, “It’s all poorly written smut and I know this because I read a romance back in 1984.” That being said, I’m pretty good with ignoring those types unless they should know better. Oh, like they’re booksellers or librarians.

Drives me bonkers.

Sarah December 21, 2009 at 22:11

@Alexia561: I admit I hesitated to take Erin McCarthy’s Flat-Out Sexy on public transport!

@Wendy: I think I’d go crazy if I were in your position and heard a fellow librarian say something like that.

Jill D. December 22, 2009 at 04:18

Here, here Sarah! I am not out to change the world. I understand that there are close-minded individuals out there who take one look at a romance novel cover, with all it’s man-titty glory and turn their sophisticated noses up at it. Well, so what! All I can say to that is “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. You and I know what it’s really all about it. They are losing out based on their preconcieved notions. If I feel like they might have just a smidgen of open-mindedness about them, then I might clue them in on a few things. Otherwise, I turn and walk away with secrets of my own.

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