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Mislabeling Is Getting Around

RTB and LLB have recently had posts on it. We’ve talked and talked and talked about it. So has Angie W. Recently I purchased two books in a trilogy by author Cameron Dean. (I have my suspicions that this is a pen name*). Candace Steele is Buffy the vampire slayer grown up and living in Las Vegas complete with the “Angel” figure (good vampire who wants to turn Candace into vampire so that they can live together forever). I am through the second book and these are not romances.

They aren’t bad books but they aren’t romance. The heroine sleeps with two different men (in separate books) and is romanced both emotionally and physically by the other men, but I guess the goal is to have Candace end up with her vampire. There’s little romance between Candace and her vampire told in either of the first two books of the series. Michelle Buonfiglio’s measure of the general romance buying public is that these types of books don’t fit into the generally accepted romance definition.

Whether this type of misleading labelling will help or hurt sales in the future is unknown at this time. My guess is that once you start eroding the meaning of “romance” for the general book buying public, the less books will be impulse-purchased because as a reader you just can’t trust the label, the back blurb, or the cover to be honest about the contents.

*The copyright to the Candace Steele series is Parachute Publishing, LLC which is a leader in children’s books. I guess this series is ghost written? Anybody have more info?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

8 Comments

  1. Angie
    Nov 13, 2006 @ 07:44:29

    Yamine Galenorn’s book, Witchling, is labeled paranormal romance. She has sex with two men in the book and there’s no clear indication that she’ll end up with either of them. And it’s my understanding that the next book is in her sister’s POV (they’re 1st person) so I feel that’s even a little more “mislabeled” because we’re not going to see a continuation of her romance in her POV.

    I respect the fact that Karen Marie Moning went to such great pains to educate her fans on the fact that Darkfever isn’t a romance, though it will eventually have a HEA.

    I have heard that the Candace Steele books are not romance, per say (I believe May blogged about this) and this new trend–which appears to be for erotica and paranormal/fantasy both irritates and worries me. It worries me that the “average” reader, with no internet connections to the publishing world, will become more and more wary of trusting new authors, for fear they won’t get a romance, and will stick only with the “trusted” and established authors because they’ll believe they know what they’re getting. Not to say they won’t ever buy new authors, but that certain genres (the ones I mentioned) they will be more wary of and they will just be more wary of impulse buying in general. That’s a shame.

  2. May
    Nov 13, 2006 @ 08:15:11

    Angie beat me to mentioning Yasmine Galenorn’s Witchling. But it wasn’t me who blogged about Cameron Dean since I’ve not read it yet–I read that blog, just can’t remember who.

    What about books like Colleen Gleason’s upcoming Gardella series novel, The Rest Falls Away? If the possibility of a HEA lies further down the road, but not in the first book, can it still be called a romance?

  3. Angie
    Nov 13, 2006 @ 08:21:43

    I didn’t mean to say that you blogged about Candace Steele, May, I actually meant you blogged about Witchling. But I was thinking of who the other person was that blogged about the Candace Steele books and the two thoughts ended up melding into one.

    This is what I get for writing comments on a morning when I have to drive 2 hours to pick up my daughter, take the cat to the vet at 10:30 and the toddler to the pediatrician at 11. *snort* I’m already trying to do all of that in my head ;)

  4. Bev (BB)
    Nov 13, 2006 @ 08:32:56

    Well, if the point isn’t to get them together in the first book, but later, then I think it could be called romantic, but not necessarily romance. The problem is then what is that an adjective for, i.e. what is the book really about. It’s one thing to call a book romantic suspense, but what does one call it when the point isn’t suspense or romance? In the cases above, it sounds like the obvious would be romantic fantasy but then fantasy readers would be up in arms. Blurring the lines only works so far and then things tend to break down. I think that may be where publishers and authors are getting themselves caught in the middle here. There may not be any easy answers.

    Could two adjectives be a “label”? ;p

  5. Angie
    Nov 13, 2006 @ 08:37:57

    I can’t believe I’m back again, but Bev’s comment made me think of examples where this has been done before. Merline Lovelace has a trilogy that’s labeled as Romantic Suspense, but I read the first book…hmm…First Mistake, I think is the title, and the romance is very light and nearly non-existant, and there are hints that the “hero” may not be the “hero” but another male character could get involved. I haven’t read the second two, so I don’t know how that plays out. But my point is, that this has been done before, I just wonder if we’re noticing more now because it’s happening more frequently and thus feels more like the genre is changing and moving away from the “requisite” HEA.

  6. Phyl
    Nov 13, 2006 @ 08:59:38

    This issue is apparently problematic for librarians, too. I’m a catalog librarian (altho I don’t work in a public library) and I read with interest an online discussion last week centered around KMM’s Darkfever. Public librarians don’t know where to shelve this. KMM’s readers will probably look for it in the romance section, but since it’s not a romance, librarians don’t want to mislead unsuspecting/unkowing readers by putting it there. Some libraries are shelving it w/ SF/Fantasy. I saw others suggest it go with the Mysteries. And finally there’s the general fiction section. There’s no consensus and so it may not be easy to find this book in your local public library.

  7. Jane
    Nov 13, 2006 @ 09:01:52

    Phyl – that’s pretty interesting and begs the question how will RWA categorize these novels for RITA purposes? Is it just a bunch of books slotted into the best book with romantic elements category?

  8. Bev (BB)
    Nov 13, 2006 @ 09:05:52

    The First Mistake, The Middle Sin & The Last Bullet – an suspense episodic trilogy that’s also a complete romance character arc, I might add. Yes, the two obvious one’s get do get together in the end but not to wedding bells, per se. Just more of a commitment thing. I can’t even remember if the second guy is even in the second book but he’s definitely in the third. Or is that the other way around?

    Anyway, a very good example of the romance taking the back seat in each book but being “fulfilled” in the overall picture. See that’s where labels get really tricky. I could easily call the trilogy romance, just not the individual books. Individually, they’re only romantic and there wasn’t even a whole lot of that in the first book. The second and third heated things up a bit.

    The thing is that when labels become nothing more than saying that there’s a “touch” of something in the book just how reliable are they? Except maybe as crossreferencing for cataloging, that is. It’s funny but this reminds me that I had a discussion about this very thing years ago with a librarian online.

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