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Predominance of Romance genre

Crumbly Writer

I just took a SurveyMonkey poll of Indie Authors, and the one thing that struck me (other than the predominance of questions about how much money I spent on ads), was one question which asked what genre I wrote in. 10 out of the list of 26 possible genres were all "Romance" related (ex: "Sci-fi Romance", "Paranormal Romance", etc.). In fact, several genres were only available as Romance (ex: there's no "Paranormal" option other than "Paranormal Romance").

What does everyone think of this trend? Is it exclusively geared to enticing female readers to read books they otherwise wouldn't (like sci-fi or mysteries), or are more men reading romances. How many 'romances' do you read (in the classical definition of the term)? And do you, as male readers, feel the tendency to classify everything as a romance, whether it is or isn't, belittles you as a regular reader?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
richardshagrin
Updated:

There are even Romance Languages, things like French, Spanish, Portuguese, and I think Romanian. Oops, I left out the obvious one, Italian. Languages that evolved from Latin are Romance Languages. I suppose the language of Vatican City is a Romance Language, its a somewhat evolved version of Latin. English isn't a Romance Language, I suppose that is a relief to CW. It has some (maybe a lot) of Norman French words, but its more Anglo-Saxon than Romance. And it is a slut for taking other language words and making them it's own.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

It's been the biggest seller for a long time.

docholladay

As a reader, I have found that every genre or story has some romance in them. Not always obvious, but it is there in some form or another. It has become a genre in and of itself. I personally tend to avoid stories and/or books labeled as "Romance". Although like I said there is always some form of romance, hell its even in the cartoons for kids.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

As a reader, I have found that every genre or story has some romance in them.

I understand and respect that, but I find it disingenuous to select your primary book category as "Action Series:Romance", since you're simply trying to shoehorn in a couple extra female readers, rather than actually trying to sell a book about romance.

If the category is a second or third genre category, or if "romance" is added to the SEO listing (as a "search option"), I don't object to it, only the false marketing of material which aren't actually romance as "Romance books".

That said, I'm sure that, for many female authors, their sci-fi books may be more "romance" than "sci-fi", so I'm a little on the fence about the topic.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I understand and respect that, but I find it disingenuous to select your primary book category as "Action Series:Romance", since you're simply trying to shoehorn in a couple extra female readers, rather than actually trying to sell a book about romance.


In general I agree. On the other hand if romance is a primary plot element, it is appropriate.

Think of movies like RED, True Lies, Mr & Mrs Smith.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

If the category is a second or third genre category, or if "romance" is added to the SEO listing (as a "search option"), I don't object to it, only the false marketing of material which aren't actually romance as "Romance books".

It has to be marketing. Observe the book displays at local stores where the distributor (wholesaler) stocks the shelves as well as supplying the merchandise. The display starts out well balanced in the basic genres. But over a period of time that balance disappears with the majority of the stock becoming the so-called "Romance" groups. There is a reason for that however, publishing houses/companies give a much better sales percentage for that category to the wholesaler. And as I found out years ago, if the book does not sale or get returned within a certain time frame the store bought it regardless (or as one bookstore owner put it the store "Ate it"). Of course that supplier will primarily stock the store with what gives him/her the biggest paycheck.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

In general I agree. On the other hand if romance is a primary plot element, it is appropriate.

Think of movies like RED, True Lies, Mr & Mrs Smith.

In that case, conflict is a common plot element, as is betrayal, or faith in humanity. SO why not have "betrayal:history" as a genre, or "conflict:romance"? All I'm asking is: why must every genre be redefined as a romance, if it's already present in virtually every book already. It's a meaningless construct (except in the few cases where the book is more romance than the designated other genre, in which case there are alternative ways to stipulate that (such as picking "Romance" as the first genre, then picking the other genres as a secondary genre).

However, unlike the other threads, this is a minor nit. It disturbs me that so many people are mislabeling their stories, but my protests aren't likely to change anyone's behavior, so my objections are neither here nor there. I was just curious about how other authors feel about it.

Apparently, no one else cares. :(

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

In that case, conflict is a common plot element, as is betrayal, or faith in humanity. SO why not have "betrayal:history" as a genre, or "conflict:romance"?


Because betrayal and conflict are not considered stand alone genres.

All I'm asking is: why must every genre be redefined as a romance, if it's already present in virtually every book already.


1. It does exist as a standalone genre.

2. Romance, (or anything else) being present in a book as a minor plot or background element is not the same as it being a major plot element.

3. I don't consider it a redefinition of other genres. Rather it is a recognition that stories/books can fit into more than one genre.

However, unlike the other threads, this is a minor nit. It disturbs me that so many people are mislabeling their stories


I don't consider it a minor nit, I agree with you that mislabeling stories is a significant problem.

Apparently, no one else cares.


I care.

My only disagreement with you is where you seem to be suggesting that a story can/must fit into one and only one genre.

I think there are two major drivers which are increasing the prominence of books not specifically written as romances to the point that the books are being labeled as dual genre.

1. An increasing willingness to recognize that teens and even pre-teens are sexually aware.

2. The aging of the population. The average age of the US population has been increasing for decades, due to a combination of increasing life spans and decreasing birth rates. This means that for publishers to be profitable, more books must be targeted to adults, which means more books directly dealing with adult themes.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

My only disagreement with you is where you seem to be suggesting that a story can/must fit into one and only one genre.

That wasn't my point. Books, both print and ebooks, can routinely declare multiple genre categories to describe their books. They can also select multiple search terms, just for these types of cases. So why do we need to create a dozen (actually 10) new story genres to circumvent these existing tools.

This pole might be an exception, listing only a single genre, but there's been a growing trend to label every book as "Romance" and to create multiple new "Romance:" genres in the industry for some time, so it's not a new phenomenon.

Another minor nit: I don't think "Romance" is, by itself, and "adult theme", though I agree that the young-adult market is a factor in this trend. However, I suspect a bigger factor is the fact that women tend to read a LOT more books than the average man does, so booksellers are trying to market books not written for women as "women's books".

But again, there is a valid reason for the category designation, I just don't feel it's a large enough market to dedicate so much attention to it. After all, just how many women are writing Romance novels focused on sci-fi, who can't file catalogue it as either "Romance", "Sci-fi", or both? A better arguments exists for creating a new genre category for "YA" (Young-Adult).

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Another minor nit: I don't think "Romance" is, by itself, and "adult theme",


True, but many romances targeted to adults get into at least some sexual content (even if not all that graphic) which for better or worse is considered an adult theme.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

After all, just how many women are writing Romance novels focused on sci-fi, who can't file catalogue it as either "Romance", "Sci-fi", or both?


If a story has both sci-fi and romance, why would you ever not categorize it as both. After all, the dual categorization yields a larger potential reader base than either single genre.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

If a story has both sci-fi and romance, why would you ever not categorize it as both. After all, the dual categorization yields a larger potential reader base than either single genre.

Okay, that's a bad example. How about this one, why do few book publishing sites accept "Paranormal" as a genre, yet they're now accepting "Romance:Paranormal"? That seems misguided, as if only women are interested/qualified to write paranormal stories.

By the way, the majority of genre fields, defined by some publishing group, are dedicated to non-fiction genres, with only a small handful (from a dozen to several dozen depending on who you publish with) being available for fiction. Adding dozens for Romance seems backwards, instead of simply creating more categories for everyone.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Okay, that's a bad example. How about this one, why do few book publishing sites accept "Paranormal" as a genre, yet they're now accepting "Romance:Paranormal"? That seems misguided, as if only women are interested/qualified to write paranormal stories.


This one I can also field. I read a lot in this category. As you note there is no general paranormal genre. This has developed as a sub-genre of romance. Generally these are romance stories involving characters that are "supernatural" creatures vampires, werecreatures, ghosts in a very specifically modern setting. This sub-genre of romance is hugely popular, which is probably why it rates a sub-genre

Non-romance paranormal stories get lumped in as either Fantasy or Sci-Fi, I don't know why.

By the way, the majority of genre fields, defined by some publishing group, are dedicated to non-fiction genres, with only a small handful (from a dozen to several dozen depending on who you publish with) being available for fiction. Adding dozens for Romance seems backwards, instead of simply creating more categories for everyone.


Agreed, I have no idea why they would do that and not simply add a bunch of independent genres and let authors pick more than one.

Perhaps, there is simply so much more being published as romance, that the publishers feel that they need to sub-divide it more than other genres.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
docholladay

The best suggestion I can come up with as to why there are dominant genres in publishing is to find a local business that sales books. Ask for permission to check out their distributor's sales contracts. Compare the percentages then compare the stock supplied by that distributor's route delivery man. Different genres have different percentages, but all tend to have the same return time period for credit of unsold merchandise. Those percentages also tell what the publishing companies are pushing.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

This one I can also field. I read a lot in this category. As you note there is no general paranormal genre. This has developed as a sub-genre of romance. Generally these are romance stories involving characters that are "supernatural" creatures vampires, werecreatures, ghosts in a very specifically modern setting. This sub-genre of romance is hugely popular, which is probably why it rates a sub-genre

That's yet another pet peeve of mine, that the "Paranormal" has been reinterpreted. Instead of meaning, 'extra-sensory' or 'otherworldly', it's been twisted to cater to this one particular market (handsome, young vampires, zombies and werewolves), which used to be categorized as "horror", but which no longer applies to these overly romanticized figures. Instead of creating an entirely new category (like YA), they adopted an accepted term which hadn't been used as a genre category yet--preempting it's more general adoption.

That leaves all of us who've been writing about mind-control, telepathy or other abilities out in the cold. They're not sci-fi, fantasy or any other clearly defined category, so most authors just pick a genre category, largely at random, that best guestimates what the story is actually about.

However, I accept your premise, that when money talks, everyone stands aside to make way. The traditional paranormal story doesn't have the backing of the entire "Young-Adult" fan-base--spending their parent's money--so it doesn't get a place at the table.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

That's yet another pet peeve of mine, that the "Paranormal" has been reinterpreted. Instead of meaning, 'extra-sensory' or 'otherworldly', it's been twisted to cater to this one particular market (handsome, young vampires, zombies and werewolves), which used to be categorized as "horror", but which no longer applies to these overly romanticized figures. Instead of creating an entirely new category (like YA), they adopted an accepted term which hadn't been used as a genre category yet--preempting it's more general adoption.


Well first the paranormal romance, isn't just romanticized horror figures. It also encompasses traditional paranormal characters such as ghosts, fantasy/high fantasy characters such as elves and faeries, again moved into a modern setting.

Perhaps they should have chosen a different term. Though short of coining a new word just for that purpose, I am not sure what they could have used that would have evoked the fantasy/supernatural elements and a modern setting.

The traditional paranormal story doesn't have the backing of the entire "Young-Adult"


Paranormal Romance is not targeted at young adults. All of the paranormal romance I read is very sexual and very graphic.

That leaves all of us who've been writing about mind-control, telepathy or other abilities out in the cold.


The traditional publishers were stuffing those kinds of stories into either Sci-Fi or Fantasy even before paranormal romance took off.

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