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Why Mislabeling Will Hurt New Authors (or The One Where Jane...

DISCLAIMER: The following opinion letter WILL contain spoilers for Cameron Dean’s Candace Steele series. The post may contain cursing, negative statements toward the author, the publisher and basically the world. If you don’t like mean statements, I suggest not reading on. I’ve done all I can do to tell you not to read this post. You have been warned.

I read my ebooks on a fairly expensive electronic device. Even if I have read a wall banger, generally, I have been able to control my impulses. At the end of reading the final book in the trilogy, Eternal Hunger, I threw the IPAQ across the bed where it slid off and landed on the floor. Unfortunately, when I went to pick it up, it didn’t turn on. I had to unscrew the device and place a piece of scotch tape inside because I had broken some small plastic piece during the tantrum.

Between October and December, Ballantine released the Candace Steele trilogy. The series has “paranormal romance” on the spine, is designated as a romance in the bookstore computers, and is shelved in the romance section. The books were about Candace Steele, a vampire hunter, who does not want eternal life and the fact that her true love, Ash, is a vampire with eternal life. The first story wasn’t bad, the second story a bit dull, the third one a take off of Laurell K Hamilton’s books by ensuring that the sex to plot ratio is about 2 to 1. (I think out of the 20 chapters, 10 of them were sex scenes). The reader even gets the obligatory LKH orgy because no good vampire hunting series is complete without the orgy.

And the end of this romance series? The fine resolution to the conflict between true love and the desire to remain human? Ash dies. That’s right. My fingers didn’t stumble on the keyboard. The author kills off the true love of the heroine and has Candace hook up with her cop friend, all in the last two chapters of the final entry of the trilogy.

WTF? This is a romance? I slogged through three tepid books to find out the resolution of the conflict is to kill off the vampire hero? I kept thinking as Candace Steele engaged in various relationships with men other than Ash that – huh, this doesn’t sound like a romance but I will hang on. After all, the spine of the book says romance. Ballantine says this is a romance. It must be a romance right? I can live through the multiple partners and the separation so long as the hero and heroine end up together. Because that is the definition of happy ever after, right?

You market the book as a romance but kill off the hero at the end of the trilogy? What is the point of marketing this to romance readers? Put the stupid book in the sci fi/fantasy section. Shelve the book with Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison. If the book is good enough, it will reach the romance readers. Don’t market a book where you fucking kill off the hero as a romance because it will seriously piss me off and not just me. Look at the unhappy ladies at Amazon who are returning their books. (Oh, if only I had that option).

After reading Paula Guran’s blogpost yesterday about the new Paranormal Romance anthology that Juno Press is putting out (Juno Press is also the house that bought the Gail Dayton book) and Shannon McKelden’s post at Romancing the Blog, I started wondering who it is that wants romance redefined.

I listened to the podcast of an interview with Paula Guran of Juno Books and Elizabeth Bear about paranormal romances.* The interviewer must not read alot of romances because she starts out by saying that paranormal romance is ignored by two genres. (had to stop the podcast there because I was loudly saying WTF and missed the next part). The interviewer sees the paranormal romances occassionally in the Sci Fi section, but there is no separate section in the romance section. Again, WTF. There is no contemporary or historical sub sections. Its hardcover, trades, and then the rest are thrown together. That’s the purpose of the cover.

Back to Juno Books, the submission guidelines are as follows:

Some might call our books “paranormal romance”, but don’t let either word frighten you off. “Paranormal” really means “beyond the ordinary” and “romance” is defined as “an exciting and/or mysterious quality as of a heroic time or adventure” as well as “a story dealing with love”.

Doesn’t sound like a romance to me. Ms. Guran acknowledges that not all the Juno books will be romances in the traditional “category” “formulaic” sense. (her words). The interviewer suggests that the romances of old are exactly that – old and outdated. Romances featuring the bond mate or the one girl/one guy ending up happily together are not representative of life today. The three agreed that romances tend to revolve around the question “Do I go with him and live with him in fairyland or do I stay here and be sad.” and that “People don’t think that way anymore – that committing to a life with single man is the only way to find happiness. So you can have lots of different happy endings.” That’s true, but that does not mean that those books are romances.

I hear no clamor from romance readers saying, “boy I really wish there were more books where the hero and heroine don’t end up together. I really love those books.” or “I love it when the main couple, after a couple of books, end up with one dead. That really tickles my HEA jones.” Why doesn’t Harlequin put out a line that is Happily Ever After Alone, seeking romances where the relationship ends with at least one character dead or the two characters parting ways – going their own paths.

Sarah Frantz of Teach Me Tonight didn’t read Barbara Samuel‘s The Black Angel because based upon the storyline and the surrounding historical events, the couple only have 14 years of happiness together. I never read Stephanie Lauren‘s Promise in a Kiss because I knew that not only would the hero die but he would also cheat on the heroine and present her with a bastard to raise.

It’s not really that happy endings are the sole province of romances. How happy would readers be if Temeraire got killed off at the end of Black Powder War? Would Novik sell lots more of that series? How about if at the end of the whodunits, the mystery isn’t solved, or in the fantasy, the bad guy is not defeated. Where would be the triumph in those books?

Redefining romance isn’t necessary because the romance genre isn’t confining to authors. Authors are free to write whatever they want. They may not get their books in front of the millions of romance readers, but if they aren’t going to write romance, why should they? Don’t call it romance if it is not a romance because all it does is piss off readers and make them take LESS chances. Which means that new authors lose out. As commenter, Kimber An, noted at Romancing the Blog,

Seems to me the marketing goal is to snag new readers, because the veteran readers stick with their favorite authors. Do they realize it’s because these veterans have been burned?

Readers will stick to the tried and true because they know what they are getting and that isn’t this “new” idea of happy ever – not together – endings. It’s not that I don’t like books without HEA. I love the Temeraire series. I am very anxious to read Patricia Brigg’s end of the month release, Blood Bound, a book with no HEA in sight. But these books don’t promise me a happy ever after ending. To tell me that the book is a romance and then to kill off the hero? That sucks big time.

I won’t be buying any new paranormal romance series soon without reassurance from trusted sources that it is a romance with the romance ending, as sappy or out dated as anyone thinks that is.

*Its start at the 8:48 min mark if you don’t want to listen to the advertisement.

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

237 Comments

  1. Saskia Walker
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 04:27:55

    Hangfire! :) I *believe* the actual Juno books line will be labelled and shelved in Fantasy. I have two books coming out on the line, both HEA romance, but both fantasy first and foremost. They have paranormal elements, and a strong romance. I’d call them “fantasy with romance and eroticism” myself :) Cross-genre labelling is always going to be problematic. It’s also important to consider that small press shelving and labeling is decided in consultation with the book buyers.

    I agree with you in that I don’t see a problem with shelving paranormal romance, in general. This is just my take, but I don’t think Paula Guran is talking about redefining romance, I think she is saying a lot of things in there aren’t strictly HEA (which is your point, too,) and what I see her doing is giving women fantasy readers more obvious access to the kind of stories they are looking for.

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  2. Jayne
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 06:09:47

    Jane, you threw your IPAQ? WTF were you thinking, blogging buddy? No book, no matter how much is sucks, is worth that. You need to grab one of baby girl’s rubber balls and hurl that wallward. Will baby IPAQ live?

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  3. Nora Roberts
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 06:31:07

    Jane, I agree with every point you made. If I had an IPAQ, I’d have thrown it, too. If the hero and/or heroine dies, it’s not a Romance. It’s never going to be a Romance, and should never be marketed as such. It may be a wonderful book, but if it doesn’t meet the reader expectations that define the genre, it should never try to pass for Romance.

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  4. December Quinn
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 06:41:22

    Ugh. I heard of one other line doing this–saying the books don’t need a HEA ending, but still labeling the books “romance”–and thought it was a terrible idea then.

    I’d be taking that book back as well.

    Juno may be an exciting new line, and the books may be very good–I don’t know, I haven’t seen or read any–but I read romance because I know I’m going to feel good when I put that book down, not upset and angry. It’s a shame when readers are misled like that for the sake of sales.

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  5. December Quinn
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 06:45:54

    Wow, they have stunning covers though.

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  6. Saskia Walker
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 06:47:28

    Jane, you could also take into account that the interview was done at the World Fantasy Convention, and Paula Guran is talking to Fantasy readers and writers, in context. She is not prescribing to romance readers/writers.

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  7. Ann Wesley Hardin
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 07:44:31

    You know, interestingly enough, I have alot of young female readers and they’ve expressed surprise that my books end happily. They didn’t know about the Romance Guarantee! Surprised the hell out of me, lemme tell ya! I’ve always assumed everyone knew about it. Makes me wonder if publishers are taking advantage of this ignorance (and I don’t mean that in an evil, manipulative sense, just as a sort of organic evolution in marketing).

    This trend disturbs me because my books end happily and they always will. In fact, because of this post, I put that as a tagline in MySpace *gg*.

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  8. Kimber An
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 08:13:09

    Since I’m a speed-reader, maybe the biggest contribution I can make to womankind is to speed-read books and list them on my blog with warning labels! Something like this:

    Rumble on the Bayou by Jana Deleon

    1) Made me read at a normal pace.

    2) Sex – my limit on graphics, but believable because couple in love and respect each other.

    3) genre/subgenre – irrelevent because its that good, present day Louisiana, no paranormal elements

    4) alpha female and alpha male

    5) HEA Factor – couple in love and together in the end

    Did I miss anything?

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  9. May
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 08:36:35

    I’ve not read any Juno titles, but I always got the impression that Juno would be shelved in fantasy. Think Luna. I’m quite sure in the submissions guidelines that they talk about putting the fantasy first.

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  10. Dee
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 09:00:59

    I’m always shocked at how non-romancers get it in their heads that non-HEA endings are romantic. That whole “better to have loved & lost…” BS. It’s why I truly cannot stand Nicholas Sparks. But he’s considered romance. It just sucks that this thinking is spreading….

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  11. Ana / Annie Dean
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 09:26:57

    Holy heck, she killed her own main love interest? I will -never- read that series. Ever.

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  12. Angie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 09:31:19

    I knew there was a reason I was waiting to start that trilogy.

    Speaking from the publisher side, sometimes labeling books can be tricky and difficult, but to us, romance is about the HEA (I actually talked about this on our editor loop a few days ago) and fulfilling our promise to the reader with the label is very important. I know some people don’t think romance needs the HEA (like May) but I think the majority would disagree with this. Maybe that will change in the future, but for myself, I sincerely hope not. I don’t want to have to ask someone to guarantee me there’s a HEA if it says romance on the spine. I want to just KNOW it will have some semblence of one. Things like this can only hurt the author/publisher’s bottom line, as less and less readers become comfortable making impulse purchases.

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  13. Jane
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 09:31:34

    Juno is labeling their books as paranormal romance. It’s there at the publishing website. Guran is editing and releasing a series of anthologies entitled the Best New Paranormal Romance. In the podcast, all three participants, interviewer, author and publisher acknowledge that the traditional romance features an HEA with the couple going off together. As you look at Guran’s definition of romance, it is clearly not in concert with the traditional understanding that even Guran has.

    Further, in the podcast, Guran takes a book to the marketer or someone higher up and the guy places his hand on the word romance and says “I wish we could take this word out but we can’t.” They don’t really want to sell romance in the traditional sense, but they want to sell it to the romance reader.

    This is fine. Nothing wrong with that. The problem is that not everyone has the benefit of a) listening to the podcast and b) reading the submission guidelines. I know now that if I see a Juno Book at the bookstore in my romance section, I will be very careful in its purchase because despite the beautiful cover or compelling storyline, I’m not likely to get an HEA.

    As for where it will be shelved, I clearly got the impression that Guran wants these books shelved in the romance aisle. Why else label it paranormal ROMANCE. You think that the buyers in the sci fi/fantasy section are going to buy a book labeled romance? Nope. The people who are buying paranormal romances are primarily romance readers.

    Some of the concepts that Guran talks about are interesting but I won’t be climbing on board with Juno until I start hearing that book A is really a romance or even without a romance, the story is compelling. And it’s not just Juno Books. It’s paranormal romance series everywhere. If I can’t trust a Ballantine book labeled paranormal romance, I have to be cautious of all labels now – not just the erotica ones. As a reader, this is frightening and sad because I want to be able to go to the bookstore and pick up a book based upon the cover or back blurb and know that the ending is happy.

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  14. Scooper
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 09:31:48

    After reading the first book in the Steele series, I felt that it wasn’t a romance. The mislabeling made me second guess my decision to read the trilogy and I quit. I’m glad too, because I’d have been seriously pissed it I invested my time and money into a paranormal romance series for it to take a twist and land in the fantasy department. I’m with you, if I want a fantasy I’ll go buy one. I don’t like being misled especially when it comes to my reading material.

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  15. Jaci Burton
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 09:34:30

    As a reader, I’m a traditionalist. I need my HEA or I get really pissed off and I WILL fling the book. You can call it whatever genre you want, but if you label it a romance then it better have a HEA. As a writer, I want my hero and heroine together and happy at the end of the book or I might as well not be writing romance. And that’s what I do-I write romance.

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  16. Alison Kent
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 09:35:09

    Strangely, at the Random House site, the books are listed as:

    ” Fiction – Romance – Contemporary; Fiction – Horror ”

    So which is it? Weird!

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  17. Paula Guran
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 09:44:22

    I’d be happy to send you a copy of BNPR so you might read the introduction if you would like. (Just email me an address to [email protected].) It attempts to explain the definition I used for the book (and even my doubts about the title). I agree, “romance” is “romance”. Romance readers have certain expectations (like HEA) and that’s great. I’d never try to “redefine romance” and neither does Juno.

    But what is now being called “paranormal romance” — by readers, reviewers, publishers, and media — is not necessarily “romance.” “Paranormal romance” appears to be emerging as a genre unto itself. Of course, this is a still-evolving theory, but, as you point out, there are a lot of books — like Laurel Hamilton’s — that certainly are not romance, but are called “paranormal romance.”

    Books like Hamilton’s and many other types of “non-romance” are not only being called “paranormal romance”, they are what most folks these days think of when you say “paranormal romance.”

    As for the Juno line, some of the books do fall within the definition of “romance” — BEYOND THE HEDGE by Roby James (which just came out), for instance — but most do not. I’m sure romance readers will like it. They might, if they like action-adventure, like JADE TIGER by Jenn Reese. Same with MATTERS OF THE BLOOD by Maria Lima. If they like fantasy set in a fantasy world, they may like Saskia Walker’s THE STRANGELING, Camille Gabor’s VILDECAZ series, and THE BONE WHISTLE by Eva Swan (the former is sexier than the latter two, btw). They all have happy endings. EURYALE by Kara Dalkey was originally published as fantasy but is also about the meaning of love, albeit in a mythical/historical context. It also has a happy-ish ending. RAGS & OLD IRON may or may not have a happy ending. It “ends” happily but a note of ambiguity is added, too. It’s also darker than the other titles I mentioned. We have a couple of “contemporary gothics” coming up…

    Well, I could go on…The point is: We aren’t trying to “fool” anyone. We aren’t labeling our books as “romance.” We are trying to explain what it is we are publishing — a diversity of supernatural fantasy (crossing over into SF and other genres sometimes) that has a focus on women and an element of romance.

    Fantasy fans did not get upset when Harlequin started their fantasy line, Luna. There’s no reason for romance fans to be up in arms concerning Juno. It’s a big cross-genre world, but there’s only “romance”, “sf/f”, and “fiction” in most bookstores. No “contemporary paranormal non-category romance” or “supernatural suspense women’s action-adventure with some mystery”… or any of the even less difficult to define “types” of books.

    We are also evolving as we go along. Juno did not exist six months ago. We’ve been offered a fabulous chance to experiment with the line–something unheard of in publishing. In a year or two, that may change. Store buyers may say “this sells, so go this way.” Or we may decide ourselves that we want to stick with a particular type of book.

    Besides, readers are intelligent folks. They read cover blurbs and reviews. Our books do not even LOOK like traditional romances. In fact, the romance buyer for a major chain hates our covers. She suggested heterosexual couples embracing in lurid colors and script lettering. I suppose that telegraphs “romance.” We aren’t sending that message, but we aren’t denying there’s romance in our books either.

    BTW: BNPR doesn’t say “romance” on the spine. The book is being stocked on romance shelves in some stores, on fantasy shelves in others, both in some. We have no control over that, but we are pleased that it is being offered to romance readers, too.

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  18. Nonny
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 09:46:05

    Hmm… I saw Juno as being more along the lines of Luna; novels about strong female protagonists with romantic subplots that didn’t necessarily include a HEA. Though I do agree, calling the books outright romance if they are is probably not a great idea. I’d label them paranormals with romantic elements, or such.

    As for the trilogy… WTBFH???

    I’m sorry, if I pick up a romance novel, the hero had bloody well better not die. Jeez. What the hell were these people thinking!?

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  19. Sharon
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 09:52:32

    The only thing that would piss me off more than the love interest dying is if I had BOUGHT the books before finding out. That is the ONE thing I won’t forgive an author for and will make me never ever EVER buy another book by them no matter what.

    I’d say your tantrum was well warranted, but CRINGE over damaging the IPAQ. Maybe you can bill the author for a new one *grin*

    Nothing like a good bout of depression I guess. Good grief.

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  20. Jane
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 10:06:42

    I don’t know who is saying LKH is paranormal romance because she is far from a romance. She isn’t shelved in the romance section and I don’t know of any readers who define her as such.

    I am not “up in arms” that Juno is starting up. I just don’t want to be the victim of another Candace Steele fiasco where I buy 3 books and spend the time reading them (when I could have been reading something else) only to find out that the ending is not happy, maybe it has a spiritual or greater meaning but that isn’t the reason I read romances.

    Ms. Guran, when you use the word romance, though, I think it has a very different meaning than when I use it. Your defintion on your website includes none of the buzz words I identify with romance. Your definition is more of a historical use. I.e., the books are romantic in the vein of Gone With the Wind or Wuthering Heights. The Time Traveler’s Wife was extremely romantic but it wasn’t a romance.

    I don’t think that paranormal romance is an emerging genre unto itself at all. I think that supernatural/paranormal/fantasy fiction with a focus on female protagonists might be an evolving genre but not paranormal romance. And I disagree with you reading what “most folks these days think of when you say ‘paranormal romance.’” If I were to post over at AAR or Romantic Times about what paranormal romance is, readers would refer to, as you did in your podcast, Diana Gabaldon, but they would also bring up names like Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, Constance O’Banyon, Linda Lael Miller, Mary Jo Putney, Shana Abe, more recently Nalini Singh, Kathryn Smith, Teresa Medeiros, Jaci Burton, Meljean Brook.

    It’s not that I or other romance fans are adverse to reading outside the genre, but it is reading outside the genre for me. I, too, think that readers are smart people but I was fooled by Candace Steele series. And I can be fooled by the labeleing (romance) and the back cover blurb. Unless the cover blurb clearly says that this book does not end in an HEA (which means I am probably not buying it), then how would even a smart reader know that a book in the romance section may not end with an HEA.

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  21. Nora Roberts
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 10:07:32

    Do readers consider LKH’s books paranormal romance? I haven’t read them since the first few Anita’s, but I wouldn’t have defined them as such.

    As a reader, if I picked up a book with Paranormal Romance on the spine, I’d expect a story including romantic relationship and paranormal elements, with a HEA. As a writer, when I write what I think of as a Paranormal Romance, it’s going to include the same.

    I don’t have to have a HEA in every book I read. But if I pick one up that has the Romance label, then I expect to get one. If I don’t get it, I’m probably going to get pissy.

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  22. Bev (BB)
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 10:29:18

    [quote comment="19024"]Further, in the podcast, Guran takes a book to the marketer or someone higher up and the guy places his hand on the word romance and says “I wish we could take this word out but we can’t.” They don’t really want to sell romance in the traditional sense, but they want to sell it to the romance reader.[/quote]

    So, basically, they’re admitting to what amounts to fraud? I mean really when you get right down to it that’s what it is. They can spin it all they want that romance can be redefined but if they KNOW that most readers expect a certain thing and they are INTENTIONALLY giving them something else . . . sounds like fraud to me.

    Yeah, I know, legally there’s not a case. And that’s unimportant anyway. What is important though is the attitude behind the whole thing. The attitude that readers aren’t even going to notice.

    Uh, yeah, right.

    I can’t decide which actually annoys me the most. That they believe it’s a good marketing strategy or that they think romance readers are actually dumb enough to buy the spin.

    Oh, and as to her definition of romance, that’s straight out of a dictionary. Merriam-Webster, for one. I’ve used it myself because those are the elements I like in my romances. It is, however, the “traditional” definition of Romance not the genre one used the RWA. Remember the discussion we had several weeks ago about the “romance” of Lord of the Rings? Can you imagine, though, if they’d actually tried to MARKET the movie as romance instead of fantasy? Hey, it has all the elements. Slap it on there. Call it what it is.

    Yeah, I’d like to see that happen. ;p

    Oh, and one more thing before I forget. I’ve been trying for several years now to get my twenty-something daughter to watch the Scorpion King movie, which is a great romance by the way, but she won’t. Absolutely refuses. Why? Because she already knows he becomes the Scorpion monster in the second Mummy movie. Digs her heels in deeper than a mule. Son and I have argued until we’re blue in the face about how much we liked the movie but no go.

    So this mindset is not a generational thing by any means. Anyone who believes they can play around with HEA expectations in any way shape or form and not incur the wrath of romance readers at some point is nuts. ;)

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  23. Female Doggie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 10:33:29

    What’s wrong with a little variety, romance readers? The way the genre is going, maybe they will dispense with authors altogether and have book templates the reader can order with fill in the blank Mary Sue heroines, alpha heroes and choice of cookie-cutter plots and romance-acceptable locales.

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  24. Bev (BB)
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 10:38:15

    [quote comment="19040"]What’s wrong with a little variety, romance readers? The way the genre is going, maybe they will dispense with authors altogether and have book templates the reader can order with fill in the blank Mary Sue heroines, alpha heroes and choice of cookie-cutter plots and romance-acceptable locales.[/quote]

    And there speaks someone absolutely ignorant of just how much variety there actually is in romance. Pity. Nice to see the trolls have arrived, though.

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  25. Kimber An
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 10:45:29

    The issue isn’t variety. It’s labeling…and mislabeling. Seems like when there’s lots of comments on entries, confusion ensues.

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  26. Kimber An
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 10:48:16

    P.S. I’m doing a lot of reading in my market research to self-educate myself on this business. I’ll start posting my recommended books on my blog on Tuesdays. I go there now to explain my plain. ;) After my experience with ‘Rumble on the Bayou,’ it seems to me word-of-mouth is the best way we can get the skinny.

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  27. Tara Marie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 11:05:36

    This completely stopped me in my tracks and if someone else has commented sorry if I step on toes…

    Books like Hamilton’s and many other types of “non-romance" are not only being called “paranormal romance", they are what most folks these days think of when you say “paranormal romance."

    Who exactly are “most folks”?

    Because it’s not within the romance reading world. You go to any romance website and you may find readers who like LKH, but they can tell the difference between LKH and say JR Ward. Isn’t that the point of the column. Romance has one major criteria–a HEA. Killing off heros/heroines or getting sexually involved with other characters doesn’t make for a HEA.

    Romance readers don’t consider LKH a romance writer. They may read and enjoy her books but would never confuse this issue.

    Here’s the problem, you can’t pigeon hole romance readers. We read across the genre markets, a historical romance fan may also read historical fiction or paranormal romance reader may also pick up horror, but that doesn’t mean we can’t tell the difference between a historical romance and historical fiction or paranormal romance and horror.

    We’re a huge market, publishers are going to try to get the cross over readers, but they make a mistake by calling it romance.

    It’s rather simple, if it has a HEA it’s romance, if it doesn’t don’t market it as romance as you will alienate the die hard romance readers, the ones who expect that HEA. The ones who have blogs and will throw books or IPAQs at walls.

    PS Nicholas Sparks writes LOVE stories not ROMANCES. There’s a huge difference between a love story and a romance. This maybe difficult for non-romance readers to understand, because a brilliant mind like Oprah’s doesn’t seem to grasp it either–LOL.

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  28. Tara Marie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 11:22:34

    yikes sorry I hit submit before finishing my last post…

    Jane are these books really sci fi/fantasy?

    My local B&N stocks Armstrong and Harrison in romance but LKH in horror.

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  29. Jane
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 11:23:31

    I don’t know that they are scary. The first two aren’t very horror filled. The first one has two “fight” scenes and one is at the front and one at the end. The second has one or two at the end. The third, one at the beginning and then two others.

    They all involve blood and some descriptions of throats being ripped out but I don’t know that is “horror.” It definitely does not have the feel of the early Anita stories in terms of graphic details and monsters.

    This book belongs with Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, Rachel Caine’s WeatherWarden series, and Laurell K Hamilton. (I am thinking that Colleen Gleason belongs over there as well). In my opinion, if the book is in the romance section, it has to end with some form of togetherness at the end of the book. If it is paranormal but does not end that way – it goes in the sci fi/fantasy section. If it is a chick lit or women’s fiction that does not end that way – put it in the general fiction area.

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  30. Joyce Ellen Armond
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 11:33:21

    I really think that bookstores need to re-evaluate how they shelve, if they ever hope to compete with Amazon and allow publishers to reach potential audiences without causing people to throw things.

    While reviewing an article by Cynthia Ward on the Internet Review of Science Fiction, I said “But how the heck do we get bookstores to shelve relationship-oriented speculative fiction so we can FIND it?”

    Romance tells the reader to expect a happy ending, but I empathize with authors/publishers of relationship-driven speculative fiction who want to reach the romance reading market but really don’t have many options. As an avid reader of both romance (HEA expected) and speculative love stories (HEA not expected), I’d be happier if they found a way to make these kinds of books stand out to me. That way everyone would get the read they expect, and the net result would be better for everyone involved.

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  31. Female Doggie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 11:34:59

    Bev, Not a troll, just too wussy to leave my name.

    I disagree about variety in romance. There are sub-genres, sure, but I find the books excruciating similar as far as the Mary Sue heroes and the basic formula despite superficial differences. It’s a matter of personal taste and obviously, the similarity works for many.

    I can agree that it’s a matter of labeling. Those who want romance, and pay their dollars for it, should get it. Nicholas Sparks or an unhappy ending or unsympathetic characters aren’t romance.

    I also think book templates would work just fine in the genre, but don’t begrudge the authors their livelihood.

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  32. Jane A.
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 11:37:27

    I echo the hordes of other romance fans out there… Romance = HEA. If that pact is broken, Ipaqs will fly and heads will roll!

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  33. Meljean
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 11:39:58

    [quote comment="19053"]This book belongs with Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, Rachel Caine’s WeatherWarden series, and Laurell K Hamilton. [/quote]

    If sales are the point, then why even bother to label them romance? These ladies aren’t doing so badly, and urban fantasy is becoming huge … and readers know what they’re getting (and many of those readers are romance readers, so it’s not as if there’s a wall in the bookstore between “romance” and “sf/f” … I cross it all the time, and when I cross it, I *know* that my HEA isn’t guaranteed. And that’s okay).

    To me, that just sounds like publishers/marketers who are ignorant of their readership, or romance readership in general. Romance readers have always been cross-over readers … we don’t need to be tricked into it.

    Count me in as another reader who would have thrown the book across the room….and NEVER picked up another book by the author again. And taken a close look at every book from that publisher in the future, because I wouldn’t be able to trust the “romance” part. But if I’d known it was “horror” going in, it wouldn’t even be an issue.

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  34. Joyce Ellen Armond
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 11:40:02

    FB –

    But do you prefer to read novels that, while featuring speculative content (sf/f/h), are motored by a relationship between/among the main characters?

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  35. Teddy Pig
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 11:41:19

    It attempts to explain the definition I used for the book

    What good is a definition only YOU know?

    What is “not misleading” about plainly labeling this book PARANORMAL ROMANCE?

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  36. Bev (BB)
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 11:43:29

    But what is now being called “paranormal romance" — by readers, reviewers, publishers, and media — is not necessarily “romance." “Paranormal romance" appears to be emerging as a genre unto itself. Of course, this is a still-evolving theory, but, as you point out, there are a lot of books — like Laurel Hamilton’s — that certainly are not romance, but are called “paranormal romance."

    You know, after reading this about ten times, I think what she’s really saying is that fantasy/sci-fi readers are seeing romance crossing over into their genres and they don’t know what to do with them. Or call them. So they call them paranormal romances. In a rather twisted way, that half-way point may be the market they’re actually after.

    Which wouldn’t necessarily be bad if the books actually WERE romances.

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  37. Female Doggie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 11:46:52

    I read a lot of books and do like plots motored by relationships a lot. But I can take realism in a novel and all relationships don’t end happily. I don’t particularly identify with the heroine and don’t require a sympathetic Mary Sue either. But that’s just me.

    I do empathize with the romance reader who prefers the predictable read and her angst that the relationship she fantasized about through the journey of the book didn’t end the way a fantasy should.

    I think books should be marketed and labeled according to their content and that would solve the problem. Don’t get misleading labeling either.

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  38. Jane A.
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 11:48:50

    Female Doggie (oh, why don’t you just come right out and say it! hee ),
    IMO there’s a big difference between asking for more variety in the romance genre and eliminating the HEA. There’s a very big spread there with lots of possibilities that will please the diehard romance fans.

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  39. Summer
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 12:03:07

    I am the interviewer in the Paranormal Romance show you reference, and you are right, I don’t read any romance at all :) Okay, not much. A few years ago I read a couple of Linda Howard novels that were recommended to me because they were also mystery/thrillers: Kill and Tell, All the Queen’s Men. I liked the first one, but outside of the sex, I was bored by the second one, and never went into the romance section again.

    SF/F with a little H now and again plus a healthy dash of mystery/thriller/detective stories is where my tastes lie, for reading as well as TV and film, and those tastes help me in my role as producer and co-host of a radio show plus a bunch of SF podcasts. Paranormal does falls into that arena, so I’m willing to give it a try if the story appeals to me. And I wanted to talk more to Paula about what she’s doing after hearing her moderate the “Vampire Powerhouse” panel at World Fantasy Con back in November, which is where this interview was recorded.

    In the marketing of these types of stories, I’d never heard the term paranormal romance until I talked to her in the dealer’s room that weekend, so my curiosity got the better of me. Elizabeth Bear is also becoming a favorite of mine, and Elizabeth Hand, Delia Sherman and Jane Yolen contributed to the anthology, so again, my interest was piqued.

    Juno titles are being put in the SF/F section, and knowing that like me, most SF/F readers won’t touch anything “romance” with a 10-ft pole and a hazmat suit, shelving those titles in the Romance section as well seemed to make more sense to me, but that’s not where they’re going. That, to me, makes it harder for interested casual readers to find new titles. But the buyers see the word “Paranormal” and stick it in SF/F… so how do both sides get the win?

    Net-savvy readers are different, more inquisitive and diligent in their search of rmaterial, but there are readers who would never consider using the Internet to find books to read, no matter if they are romance or detective crossovers. They shop in their favorite sections, and that’s about it.

    FYI, I don’t consider the Anita Blake series, or Kelley Armstrong, or Charlaine Harris as fitting the romance genre, but if I’m mistaken, let me know! :)

    I think it needs a new word, but what do you call the genre so that it’ll be attractive to readers of fantasy and of romance but also tell both groups that it’s not likely to 100% fit their preconceptions of either genre? And how do you sell bookstores on making a subsection in the SF/F or Romance sections with that label?

    FYI, the Vampire Powerhouse panel was Show #242.

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  40. Tara Marie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 12:14:33

    Female Doggie–you’re too wussy to give a name but are okay with using “Female Doggie” instead–LOL

    I read a lot of books and do like plots motored by relationships a lot. But I can take realism in a novel and all relationships don’t end happily. I don’t particularly identify with the heroine and don’t require a sympathetic Mary Sue either. But that’s just me.

    I think your kind of missing the point. It’s not about crossing genres and trying something new or different it’s about the marketing of something that isn’t romance as romance. If it says “paranormal romance” then it should be a ROMANCE.

    Romance readers cross genres all the time, but they also want the romance ubrella to include other genres and get the rush of a fantasy, sci/fi, horror or a suspenseful mystery or the emotion of woman’s fiction, the comic feel of chick lit AND a HEA. And I think that’s what’s making marketing harder and harder, publishers want to reach both markets, the reader looking for romance and the readers of whatever the crossover is–fantasy, horror, mystery etc.

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  41. Janine
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 12:14:38

    [quote comment="19055"]Bev, Not a troll, just too wussy to leave my name.

    I disagree about variety in romance. There are sub-genres, sure, but I find the books excruciating similar as far as the Mary Sue heroes and the basic formula despite superficial differences. It’s a matter of personal taste and obviously, the similarity works for many.

    I can agree that it’s a matter of labeling. Those who want romance, and pay their dollars for it, should get it. Nicholas Sparks or an unhappy ending or unsympathetic characters aren’t romance.[/quote]

    I would appreciate and enjoy more variety in settings and characterization in the romance genre, but I think the happy ending is a different story. There are plenty of books that end unhappily in other genres, and readers who want to avoid those books need to have some kind of labeling system that allows them to find books with happy endings. Presently the word “romance” on the spine is the only way to know that a book will end happily.

    Maybe what we need is a new genre designation for books like the ones Juno publishes and the one that made Jane hurt her IPAQ . “Paranormal fiction with romantic elements” is a mouthful, but that’s the best description I can think of. I don’t think “paranormal romance” is the correct label, because I have always viewed paranormal romance as a subgenre of romance aimed at readers who want a happy ending.

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  42. Tara Marie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 11:17:09

    Strangely, at the Random House site, the books are listed as:

    ” Fiction – Romance – Contemporary; Fiction – Horror ”

    So which is it? Weird!

    I thought the same thing when I went over to the Random House site. I’ve not read these books, and after reading this post I’m not likely to.

    Jane, you’ve read the books, how would you market them? They’re obviously not romance, but are they scary enough to qualify as horror?

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  43. Wendy
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 12:20:07

    Let’s just cut through the BS – when you write genre fiction, you have to play by the rules. You cannot label a book romance then not have a HEA. Likewise, mystery readers like to have the mystery solved by the end of the book. Genre readers are silly like that.

    There has long been the misconception that genre fiction = predictable. This will never change, so it’s best to not feed the troll(s). Just because we know about the HEA or resolution doesn’t mean the journey is boring.

    Jane, I wonder if this series was marketted as romance because it’s well known that romance readers buy WAY more books than most? But like someone else already commented, that seems strange because paranormal-anything is very hot right now. Vampires are starting to creep back into General Fiction again….

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  44. Tara Marie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 12:26:00

    Summer…

    …knowing that like me, most SF/F readers won’t touch anything “romance" with a 10-ft pole and a hazmat suit…

    Why??

    Am I the only one who finds this rather insulting. Are romance readers that cross genres somehow more open minded.

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  45. Bev (BB)
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 12:29:14

    [quote comment="19065"]I think it needs a new word, but what do you call the genre so that it’ll be attractive to readers of fantasy and of romance but also tell both groups that it’s not likely to 100% fit their preconceptions of either genre? And how do you sell bookstores on making a subsection in the SF/F or Romance sections with that label?[/quote]

    See, I was right. What they’re doing is coming at it from the opposite direction of another genre. Still annoying but . . . no, just annoying all the way around because it’s only shows a lack of respect for romance as a genre that it and its READERS could be dismissed so easily. Period. Sorry, people, but sometimes one just has to call a spade a spade.

    Well, anyway, what the heck is wrong with romantic “whatever”? I mean there’s already romantic suspense. Why not romantic thrillers? Or romantic fantasies? Or romantic horrors? Hehehe.

    The problem is that romance already has a substantial and I do mean stubstantial subgenre of paranormal romance and if fantasy/sci-fi/horror or whatever suddenly start producing books that they’re calling by that label but which aren’t really romances at all then major confusion results.

    And it’s not going to be confusion that wins friends and influences people to buy books in the long term. Is that really what publishers want?

    Somehow I don’t believe so. Clarity is a much better objective.

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  46. Mechele Armstrong
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 12:30:50

    I’m with the majority here. I don’t mind non-happy endings in the books I read, but not with romance. I want the HEA with romance. I don’t need to see them married with children, but I want to know at the end, they are committed. Other genres, yeah, I know I might not get an HEA (grew up reading Stephen King). A romance without an HEA is like a bird without wings. It’s not going to fly with me *shrugs*.

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  47. Bev (BB)
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 12:44:31

    [quote comment="19065"]I am the interviewer in the Paranormal Romance show you reference, and you are right, I don’t read any romance at all :) Okay, not much. A few years ago I read a couple of Linda Howard novels that were recommended to me because they were also mystery/thrillers: Kill and Tell, All the Queen’s Men. I liked the first one, but outside of the sex, I was bored by the second one, and never went into the romance section again.[/quote]

    On second thought, this makes whole Juno thing makes no sense at all. Think about it. Here the interviewer is admitting that she’s the target audience and she doesn’t read romance so she’s going to be turned off by the label in the first place. The so-called potential market audience that the label should reach – us – are going to be turned off the first time we pick up a book that doesn’t have that HEA.

    So, what kind of logic is this?!?

    Weird that’s what.

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  48. Wendy
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 12:45:48

    Tara Marie wrote:

    Am I the only one who finds this rather insulting. Are romance readers that cross genres somehow more open minded.

    Actually yes, they are. Librarians that are forced to label (like I was at one point and let me tell you, I hated it!) have known this for a long time. Romance readers will leave the romance section, but non-romance readers would rather have bamboo shoots shoved under their finger nails than be anywhere near the romance section. Maybe they think the idea of sex, love and committment will taint them somehow?

    Which means most “good” librarians are subversive as hell. I’d put romantic suspense in the mystery section. And J.D. Robb? In the mystery section because the romance readers would find her there and the non-romance readers would give the series a chance because it didn’t have an icky-yucky romance label on it.

    Which I suspect might make me part of the problem in this labelling debate ;)

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  49. Female Doggie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 12:47:25

    The consensus is that romance is defined by the HEA and I can go with that.

    It’s my opinion that romance is a more predictable genre than say, mystery, because it’s based on reader fantasy, but that’s just my opinion. I’m not going to argue over it. Mileage may vary.

    I agree with the commenters who say labeling a book with a non-HEA and that clearly doesn’t fit romance parameters a romance has more to do with getting the humongous romance reader dollar than anything else.

    There has to be a happy medium. Personally, I’d love a different label for the paranormal women’s fiction genre with a widened definition that didn’t particularly include romance mores.

    But I go with that if it says romance, it should be a romance, no problem.

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  50. Janine
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 12:51:46

    [quote comment="19065"]I am the interviewer in the Paranormal Romance show you reference, and you are right, I don’t read any romance at all :) Okay, not much. A few years ago I read a couple of Linda Howard novels that were recommended to me because they were also mystery/thrillers: Kill and Tell, All the Queen’s Men. I liked the first one, but outside of the sex, I was bored by the second one, and never went into the romance section again. .[/quote]

    LOL. Well, I am a reader who loves romance (though I do read in other genres as well), and I agree that except for the sex, All the Queen’s Men was boring. For a good Linda Howard romantic suspense, try After the Night. A paranormal romance I really loved and recommend is Shana Abe’s The Smoke Thief. You can read my review here. I’m sure Jane, Jayne and I, as well as the readers, could give you more recommendations of romances that would suit your tastes. :)

    [quote comment="19065"]
    Juno titles are being put in the SF/F section, and knowing that like me, most SF/F readers won’t touch anything “romance” with a 10-ft pole and a hazmat suit, shelving those titles in the Romance section as well seemed to make more sense to me, but that’s not where they’re going. That, to me, makes it harder for interested casual readers to find new titles. But the buyers see the word “Paranormal” and stick it in SF/F… so how do both sides get the win?

    Net-savvy readers are different, more inquisitive and diligent in their search of rmaterial, but there are readers who would never consider using the Internet to find books to read, no matter if they are romance or detective crossovers. They shop in their favorite sections, and that’s about it.

    FYI, I don’t consider the Anita Blake series, or Kelley Armstrong, or Charlaine Harris as fitting the romance genre, but if I’m mistaken, let me know! :)

    I think it needs a new word, but what do you call the genre so that it’ll be attractive to readers of fantasy and of romance but also tell both groups that it’s not likely to 100% fit their preconceptions of either genre? [/quote]

    Paranormal Fiction? Paranormal Love Story?

    Either of those would work, but “Paranormal Romance” is already taken, and labeling books in which the male love interest dies “Paranormal Romance” is likely to make romance readers feel that the term is being co-opted by people who want to make a quick buck by selling them something they don’t want.

    As to how to sell bookstores on creating a new section in the store, I don’t know, but Harlequin has succeeded in making many bookstores shelve their books seperately from those of other romance publishers. Perhaps something like that could be worked out in the F/SF section of the bookstores for paranormal love stories.

    BTW, I agree that Laurel K. Hamilton, Kelley Armstrong, and Charlaine Harris don’t fit the romance genre. I don’t believe their books are labeled “Paranormal Romance,” nor should they be.

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  51. Robin
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 13:01:03

    To me, that just sounds like publishers/marketers who are ignorant of their readership, or romance readership in general. Romance readers have always been cross-over readers – we don’t need to be tricked into it.

    If I were not a regular Romance reader, I would not necessarily understand how many Romance readers are dedicated to the HEA as intrinsic to the genre (certainly I wouldn’t get that solely from the RWA definition, either). OTOH, if you’re going to market to a certain readership, I think you should do your best to know that readership and the central expectations of the readers to whom you want to market. Genre fiction, by its very nature, tends to be defined as much by what it excludes as bay what it includes, whether it be Sci-fi, Fantasy, YA, or Romance. I understand why Romance readers are feeling that they are being “tricked” into books that, in their opinion, violate a basic genre rule. In some cases, I think the marketing is absolutely deceptive, ESPECIALLY if it comes from Romance genre players or insiders.

    As a slutty reader who regularly cheats on Romance and tends to take a contrarian position to rules that aren’t safety or ethically based, though, I’m excited about the kind of hybridization with which Juno is experimenting. Of course, I’m also a Romance reader who doesn’t require a HEA ending, too. Some HEA endings feel so forced and unconvincing to me that I do sometimes yearn for something less dramatically ecstatic in Romance. But I know there are tons of readers who won’t read without an HEA or a virgin heroine or an alpha hero or a Regency setting or whatever. And I agree that more diversity in the genre shouldn’t just amount to taking away the HEA (in fact, I think that cheapens the whole idea of generic diversity, as it doesn’t seem anymore innovative than having every book end with an HEA). There is so much room for more diversisty in the genre that doesn’t involve the common Romance HEA ending that hundreds of books could be published before the issue of the ending ever comes up, IMO.

    That said, I do think there is a certain hybridizing taking place in the genre, especially in contemporary Romance, with the integration of paranormal, suspense, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and adventure elements, that I do think it’s becoming more and more difficult to label books. There was a discussion on AAR a while ago about giving violence ratings on books, as they do sensuality ratings. And while I don’t have a stake in the issue either way, I totally understand why some readers want violence ratings, because the merging of suspense, true crime, etc., elements into Romance has amped up the gore, IMO, and many readers are sensitive to this (I, for example, won’t read torture or abuse of animals, skipping pages entirely if necessary). The genre IS changing, IMO (although I think it’s debatable whether these changes are actually creating more diversity, ESPECIALLY in historicals, which are basically standing water, IMO), and what one person sees as paranormal romance another will see as fantasy with romantic elements. So to me, there’s a fine line between mislabeling and deceptive marketing and true confusion about how to label effectively books that represent a more hybridized take on genre fiction.

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  52. Vivi Anna
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 13:16:01

    I agree that romance should require a HEA, but…isn’t one of the most beautiful moving romantic movies of all time..Ghost? Would you consider that a romance? Or a love story?

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  53. Nora Roberts
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 13:18:04

    So, it’s okay to label a book Paranormal Romance even though it doesn’t meet the reader expectations of the Romance genre, because the books can be shelved in Romance, where those looking for a good read within the genre should be expected to take their chances, and in SF/F where most of that genre’s readers wouldn’t touch a Romance with the old ten-footer.

    I have to say first off that I read both SF/F and Romance, among other things, and need no pole or hazmat suit. Second, it’s it too bad that SF/F readers are considered by some to be so elitist and narrow-minded.

    I absolutely agree that most internet savvy readers will know more about a new imprint or line before it hits the shelves than the average reader. By that mark, it seems to me that the average reader’s going to be more disappointed and annoyed when she picks up something labeled Paranormal Romance, shelved in the Romance section, and doesn’t get the HEA that is one of the vital defining elements of the genre, and most likely what she wanted when she bought the book.

    I think, too, many of those average readers won’t look at the publisher or the marketing department with their annoyance or disappointment, but at the author.

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  54. Nora Roberts
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 13:21:05

    Ghost is a love story.

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  55. Tara Marie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 13:21:26

    Am I the only one who finds this rather insulting. Are romance readers that cross genres somehow more open minded.

    Actually yes, they are.

    Wendy, I know this and you know this and so does every other romance reader. I want someone who can come to a romance reader site and make a comment like…knowing that like me, most SF/F readers won’t touch anything “romance" with a 10-ft pole and a hazmat suit to explain themselves. I’m just itching to use the “Harlequin Law”–LOL.

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  56. Bev (BB)
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 13:31:50

    [quote comment="19091"]The genre IS changing, IMO (although I think it’s debatable whether these changes are actually creating more diversity, ESPECIALLY in historicals, which are basically standing water, IMO), and what one person sees as paranormal romance another will see as fantasy with romantic elements. So to me, there’s a fine line between mislabeling and deceptive marketing and true confusion about how to label effectively books that represent a more hybridized take on genre fiction.[/quote]

    Yeah, well, change can sometimes just mean something isn’t dead, too. The thing about this particular discussion that bothers me is that it seems to actually be more about another genres use of the term “romance” than about their preconceptions against romance. Cross-overs and hybridizing are all well and good but when the terms become meaningless then we have a problem. A big problem.

    Here’s an example of what I mean. I distinctly remember discussions years ago. I mean like a decade or so ago. It could have been on RRA or on the original AAR list. This was during the initial emergence of the popularity of that first wave of futuristic romances. You know the forerunners of the ones we now know as those paranormal romances. There were big debates then about little details like, uh, what to call them . . . well, because most of us didn’t particularly like futuristic as a blanket term. Let’s face it, it didn’t always make sense.

    As far as I can see, this is just the flip side of the same issue. Suddenly the romance element really has escaped the bounds of the genre and is making and impact on other genres and they really don’t know how to handle it.

    It’s funny but I don’t exactly feel charitable about them using the romance label willy-nilly because it’s suddenly convenient for their purposes. Honestly, do the rest of you?

    So, you see, that has nothing to do with expanding this genre in any way shape or form.

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  57. Paula Guran
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 13:38:11

    The definition of “romance” is well established: it is a story about a romance between a couple (usually one male and one female) that ends happily. I agree with it and accept it. So I’m not sure what we are disagreeing over here :-)

    By “most folks” I mean the world outside of romance readers — the term “paranormal romance” is used by everyone for the NYTIMES to Publishers Weekly to USAToday to refer to books that are NOT romance. That is the point and that’s why I suggested reading the introduction. It cites examples. Many books called “paranormal romance” simply are not romance.

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  58. Robin
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 13:46:09

    So, you see, that has nothing to do with expanding this genre in any way shape or form.

    I’m not understanding exactly how you reached this conclusion, Bev, but maybe it’s because I don’t agree that it’s only “outsiders” who are somehow diluting the Romance genre label. The arguments over what constitutes Romance have raged on with regard to Romantica, erotic Romance, and Romantica for a while now, and a lot of that has been within the Romance genre, especially among Romance readers. That one sci-fi reader makes a statement about not wanting to touch Romance with the proverbial pole doesn’t, IMO, speak for all genre fiction readers outside the genre. I’m not saying that some people outside the genre aren’t applying the term Romance in a looser way than a majority of genre readers do, but I don’t know how much of this is from disrespect for Romance, lack of full understanding of the genre, or deceptive intention (or some combination thereof). Personally, I think it’s dumb to fail to understand one’s intended readership, because if you burn them once, you may have lost them for good. But I also think there is growing tension within the Romance genre over how far the genre should go, and I can see where this might appear to be an opportunity for publishers who want to capture some of those readers who indicate a desire to see more boundaries crosssed. Like I said, I think there are WAY more interesting boundaries than the HEA that could use some crossing, but even still, I don’t think every marketing label that pisses a Romance reader off is intrinsically deceptive. Sometimes it’s just a miss for that particular reader.

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  59. Robin
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 14:00:36

    I’m always shocked at how non-romancers get it in their heads that non-HEA endings are romantic. That whole “better to have loved & lost-" BS. It’s why I truly cannot stand Nicholas Sparks.

    I don’t like Nicholas Sparks, but I am a Romance reader who can find a non-HEA ending romantic. I understsand how so many Romance readers don’t, though. While I do sometimes feel that some endings read as forced and unconvincing, and wish the strictures on the ecstatically dramatically celebratory HEA ending were more easily loosened, I know I can get romantic books without the HEA outside of Romance, too, so I don’t sweat it. I figure that because so many genre Romance readers want that HEA I can live with it even when it feels forced to me, especially because there are tons of places I’d rather an author focus any envelope-pushing energy first.

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  60. Alison Kent
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 14:11:59

    [quote comment="19103"]the term “paranormal romance” is used by everyone for the NYTIMES to Publishers Weekly to USAToday to refer to books that are NOT romance. That is the point and that’s why I suggested reading the introduction. It cites examples. Many books called “paranormal romance” simply are not romance.[/quote]

    Cite some examples here. I’d love to see them, because I’ve obviously missed them in those publications!

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  61. Jaci Burton
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 14:12:56

    I don’t begrudge anyone a non-HEA in their reading enjoyment, even if its not for me. My 17 year old daughter loves Nicholas Sparks. We argue about it, good naturedly, because he depresses the hell out of me. I want to leave a book with a smile on my face, not drop the book while I’m sobbing and depressed and reaching for the Kleenex because one of the main characters has died or something equally angsty. She thinks it’s great. I think it’s crap. To each their own. :-)

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  62. Keishon
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 14:14:01

    like Laurel Hamilton’s — that certainly are not romance, but are called “paranormal romance."

    I’d not heard LKH series described as thus and secondly, if LKH was to kill off say Richard or Jean-Claude, I wouldn’t be all that upset as it is not a romance. It’s fantasy and it’s shevled in fantasy. I don’t think I like have the paranormal romance described as being similar to LKH books because there is a difference at least to me it is. I read fantasy so the Steele books and subsequent plotline wouldn’t have bothered me. I didn’t see them as “romance” but they certainly are described that way. Thanks Jane for the heads up as I hadn’t read the trilogy yet.

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  63. Summer
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 14:14:48

    Me and many of my friends wouldn’t cross over to Romance from SF, but I know quite a few of my male friends finally lured their wives and girlfriends into SF/F by using crossover titles like these… things they might not have read unless there was a hint of some type of romance angle.

    That’s why I don’t understand why they aren’t put in the Romance section first… the SF/F readers could be more likely find them there on their own, but my impression is that a primarily romance reader wouldn’t venture into the SF section to seek them out, if they didn’t know about them ahead of time.

    Some of the Luna titles are going into Romance, aren’t they? I know the C. E. Murphy titles are in Fantasy, but there are so many that aren’t, I just assumed they were in Romance.

    And no, I’m not familiar with the rules of romance stories, but I am familiar with the appeal of the HEA ending. As for why some people’s ideas of one lover dying or the lovers being separated is romantic, doesn’t that happen all the time in soap operas? I may be showing my naivete about both genres, but I thought there was an appeal to them not getting together at the end (as in Buffy/Angel). If I was mistaken about that, then consider me slightly educated about the matter.

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  64. Tara Marie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 14:15:56

    Robin said:

    I’m not saying that some people outside the genre aren’t applying the term Romance in a looser way than a majority of genre readers do, but I don’t know how much of this is from disrespect for Romance, lack of full understanding of the genre, or deceptive intention (or some combination thereof).

    If Ms. Guran is correct the NYT and USA Today both lack a full understanding of the genre and that does show a lack of respect for a major chunk of the reading public.

    The NYT and USA today may not grasp the different genres but publishers do. Random House knows the Cameron Dean books aren’t romance. Why put that on the spine. 1. It obviously alienates the sci/fi/fantasy readers who wont touch romance with a 10 foot pole and 2. upon reading they also alienate some romance readers expecting a HEA not a dead hero. Nobody wins this way.

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  65. Tara Marie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 14:22:19

    I was going to save this for a RTB column but here goes…

    Romance vs. Love Story…

    Romance- To qualify as a romance right before “The End" there needs to be an invisible- and THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER, it must have some sort of HEA—whatever type of HEA that works for you is fine. That doesn’t mean they’re happily married with 3 kids, a dog and a picket fence. It means the main characters have found some sort of happiness together now and in the future.

    Love Story- a romantic story that may or may not have a HEA. The book “Love Story" is a perfect example, true love tragically doomed by death, it’s filled with romantic elements, but misses the main one that would make it a romance—a Happily Ever After ending.

    Ghost, Love Story, Buffy/Angel are all examples of love stories not romances.

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  66. Jordan Summers
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 14:24:08

    I purchased the first book of this series, thinking that it was a romance. I haven’t started reading it yet. Not sure I’m going to now. I do understand your anger. I would be upset, too. I think it’s sad that the author of this series is going to take the hit for the books being mislabeled by the publisher, when I have no doubt she had no input whatsoever. It’s a lot like cover art. Authors rarely (unless you’re a big name) get a say in how their work is presented to the readers.

    As for LKH, Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong, some stores may file them under romance (mine don’t), but the spine clearly says “FICTION”. When I read their books, I don’t expect a HEA. Yes, I’m in the camp that if you say it’s a romance it has to have some semblance of a HEA in the end.

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  67. Robin
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 14:25:18

    The NYT and USA today may not grasp the different genres but publishers do. Random House knows the Cameron Dean books aren’t romance. Why put that on the spine. 1. It obviously alienates the sci/fi/fantasy readers who wont touch romance with a 10 foot pole and 2. upon reading they also alienate some romance readers expecting a HEA not a dead hero. Nobody wins this way.

    So why DID they do it? Seriously. Publishers are all about making money, and even if I think some of their strategies are ridiculous (i.e. clinch covers), apparently a lot of those strategies work. Maybe the intent is deceptive — I wouldn’t put that past a publisher at all and think it happens quite regularly, actually, in small ways that we tend to brush off because we enjoy the final product enough to keep it from mattering. But if the goal is to sell as many books as possible, wouldn’t that be short-sighted? Or maybe the goal is different, and maybe that’s where this analysis should start. What’s the goal and can we track back from that to figure out why the Romance label was used. Maybe they thought Romance readers would be more likely to buy the book blind and that’s all they were looking for — that initial sale — not caring what happened beyond that. I don’t know; all I know is that there are many things publishers seem willing to do that baffle me.

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  68. Summer
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 14:36:00

    [quote comment="19100"]

    Am I the only one who finds this rather insulting. Are romance readers that cross genres somehow more open minded.

    Actually yes, they are.

    Wendy, I know this and you know this and so does every other romance reader. I want someone who can come to a romance reader site and make a comment like…knowing that like me, most SF/F readers won’t touch anything “romance" with a 10-ft pole and a hazmat suit to explain themselves. I’m just itching to use the “Harlequin Law”–LOL.[/quote]

    It’s not my preference of a story to read is all. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to the Fabio covers or something. I avoid chick-lit and romantic comedies as well. I am either bored by them or annoyed by them. It’s simply my personal preference.

    I’m not insulting the people who prefer to read the bodice-rippers and the everyone happy at the end tear-jerkers, it’s just not what I prefer to read. I know a lot of people who feel exactly the same way about stories with spaceships or elves in them… why is the way I termed how I feel such a problem?

    Trust me, I respect the people who write the stories, and the fans who gobble them up. Doesn’t mean that I’m ever going to be a member of either group.

    I actually have Shanna Abe’s “Dream Thief” and “Smoke Thief” in my TBR pile. Janine, feel free to comment on them over at Dragonpage.com, in The Library section… that’s what that section is there for, but you might have to go back a page or two.

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  69. Tara Marie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 14:38:01

    Robin,

    I think it come down to the publisher cashing in on a huge market. 1. They know romance is 50% if the mm paperback market, obviously much larger than sci fi/fantasy or other genres. 2. romance readers are much more likely to crossover to other markets. 3. they’re willing to take their chances and market to romance hoping the crossover market is strong enough.

    Maybe I was wrong in saying it’s no win situation. I’m not even sure this will backfire on them, it only really becomes no win if there’s a large enough backlash. Who it may hurt are new authors that haven’t found their niche, and I guess that was Jane’s original point–Why Mislabeling Will Hurt New Authors…

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  70. Bev (BB)
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 14:41:57

    [quote comment="19115"]And no, I’m not familiar with the rules of romance stories, but I am familiar with the appeal of the HEA ending. As for why some people’s ideas of one lover dying or the lovers being separated is romantic, doesn’t that happen all the time in soap operas? I may be showing my naivete about both genres, but I thought there was an appeal to them not getting together at the end (as in Buffy/Angel). If I was mistaken about that, then consider me slightly educated about the matter.[/quote]

    Soap operas. Oh, boy. You know, that may be one of the biggest romance myth-conceptions around. I say, myth there because there is some basis in truth to it. It’s not a total misconception to say that the basic romance formula traditionally yanks our emotional chains. Intentionally so. Sometimes big time. It’s an emotionally based genra after all.

    It’s just that in the end we expect a pay off. Big time. Otherwise known as the HEA. (Happily Ever AFTER – not to be confused with the simple happy ending, which those mere mysteries or thrillers can have and welcome to them, you know.)

    And nowadays we expect a lot more than just a pay off in the end, too. Meaning we want not only that HEA but we want a real RELATIONSHIP to exist for most of the story. We want them to spend as much time together as possible. So, it sort of cuts down on those soap opera type roller coaster separations and reunions, you know. Not that they don’t happen anyway. They just don’t happen as much as they used to, say twenty, thirty years ago.

    Expectations? Just a few. ;)

    Buy, hey, beyond all that authors can do pretty much whatever they want. Hehehe. (Oh, drat, now I’ve started coughing again.)

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  71. Nora Roberts
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 15:10:03

    ~I’m not insulting the people who prefer to read the bodice-rippers and the everyone happy at the end tear-jerkers, it’s just not what I prefer to read.~

    It might be better to understand the genre, at least somewhat, you’re discussing. It IS insulting to refer to Romance as bodice-rippers. I write Romance, have never written a bodice ripper, and like most who read and write in the genre find the term derrogatory.

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  72. Janine
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 15:22:47

    Summer, I was going to make the same point Ms. Roberts just made; that many romance readers consider the term “bodice ripper” insulting, since most romances don’t involve bodices ripping. It’s a stereotype that is inaccurate and has been for decades — like the stereotype of romance readers as being uneducated when most of them are educated professionals.

    I believe you when you say that you respect the readers and authors in this genre, but so many people don’t respect us that it’s easy for us to feel insulted when you say you don’t touch romance without a pole and a HazMat suit.

    [quote comment="19121]
    I actually have Shanna Abe’s “Dream Thief” and “Smoke Thief” in my TBR pile. Janine, feel free to comment on them over at Dragonpage.com, in The Library section… that’s what that section is there for, but you might have to go back a page or two.[/quote]

    Thanks, I’ll check out the site, and feel welcome to comment here when you read the Abe books, Summer. I hope you enjoy them enough to give more romances (even if just the paranormal kind) a chance without your suit and pole. All that protective gear must get a little uncomfortable. ;-)

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  73. Teddy Pig
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 15:26:04

    OK! That does it! I’m officially calling all the new M/M Romances Jockstrap-Rippers then. So there pffffffft!

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  74. Teddy Pig
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 15:36:16

    OK! Then can we call all the new M/M Romances Jockstrap-Rippers then.

    Hehhehehehehehe…

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  75. Ellie M.
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 15:38:09

    ~~I’m not insulting the people who prefer to read the bodice-rippers and the everyone happy at the end tear-jerkers, it’s just not what I prefer to read…why is the way I termed how I feel such a problem?~~

    Surely you yanketh. For real, you don’t understand why saying you and your friends wouldn’t go into the romance section with a 10 foot pole and a HAZMAT suit (AFTER confessing minimal knowledge of romances) and then following up by calling romances soap operas, bodice rippers and tear-jerkers is insulting to romance readers?

    I am so sorry.

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  76. Robin
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 15:42:10

    Maybe I was wrong in saying it’s no win situation. I’m not even sure this will backfire on them, it only really becomes no win if there’s a large enough backlash. Who it may hurt are new authors that haven’t found their niche, and I guess that was Jane’s original point-Why Mislabeling Will Hurt New Authors-

    What you say about the gamble sounds right, Tara Marie, and to be fair, there are probably some cases where such a gamble pays off and Romance readers do embrace a less traditional book (isn’t this what happend with erotic Romance, to some extent, which, IMO, is often MORE conservative than so-called mainstream Romance). But as for new authors, as you and Jane point out, the gamble is pretty big, isn’t it? Again, I think this has to do with the factory publishing practices, and if readers and authors could actually see that we have a mutual interest in something like this issue of marketing, I think it would be good for the Romance community as a whole. In the meantime, maybe the best disappointed Romance readers can do is contact the publisher and let them know how they feel about the marketing of specific books. That might also be a small and indirect kindness to a new author who doesn’t have control over how her books are marketed and may end up a victim of the publisher’s, well, is greed the right word?

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  77. Summer
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 16:25:51

    I can’t seem to avoid being saddled by assumptions of my statements and intents, despite the fact that I never said these things, so I will try to be clearer in the future.

    Rending people from limb to limb because they aren’t educated about a particular topic doesn’t encourage newcomers to want to come and stay, now does it? :)

    I never once said that readers of romance are uneducated, so why I’m being labeled as being derogatory is a mystery to me. It’s also just as unfair to me as it is to wrongly think I am being that way to everyone here. Some of the most highly educated people I know don’t know squat about how to use the Internet for indepth searching… they can barely use email. That doesn’t make them uneducated, it just makes them unfamiliar with something outside of what they are used to. So no, I never once said that romance readers are uneducated, and it’s more than obvious that the writers of the genre are also educated.

    That said, I am not familiar with the genre breakdowns, expectations, or language, and I did not mean “bodice-rippers” in a derorgatory fashion… I don’t know of any romance subgenres beyond historical and paranormal, so I just used terminology that I’ve seen and heard used in years past.

    SF/F is my pond, and I think it’s time I returned to the safety of it :)

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  78. Bev (BB)
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 16:39:56

    [quote comment="19136"]That said, I am not familiar with the genre breakdowns, expectations, or language, and I did not mean “bodice-rippers” in a derorgatory fashion… [/quote]

    Hmm, I do wish someone would explain to me how “bodice-ripper” could be used as a term of endearment by someone who isn’t a romance reader?

    How could it even be neutral?

    Really. No sarcasm intended.

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  79. Karen Scott
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 16:41:24

    Well I don’t consider LKH romance, and at my local Border’s she’s actually shelved in the horror section, which seems appropriate.

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  80. Jane
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 16:43:09

    Summer – Thank you for taking the time to post today. What set everyone off, which you didn’t realize, is that we romance readers, particularly the online ones are very touchy about the word “bodice ripper” because it denotes something very negative in our minds. If you aren’t a member of the community, and I guess by your posts that you aren’t, you probably couldn’t have known that.

    I am sure that there are sci fi/fantasy generalizations that make a sci fi reader cringe. Bodice ripper is just a huge hot button issue. There is great debate amongst readers about the clinch cover/the bare chested man/and the like because those sorts of things do perpetuate an inaccurate picture of what the genre is like.

    Anyway, we do appreciate Ms. Guran and you coming to post. It’s a thought provoking issue.

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  81. Jane
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 16:52:18

    Bev- it’s the harlequin thing. Everyone thinks a romance is a harlequin. REmember the fairly positive article written by the college journalist. She called Santa Baby a Harlequin. I think it just comes down to the fact that romances to the mainstream media are known as bodice rippers and maybe don’t see the harm in it.

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  82. Janine
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 16:59:37

    [quote comment="19136"]I never once said that readers of romance are uneducated, so why I’m being labeled as being derogatory is a mystery to me. It’s also just as unfair to me as it is to wrongly think I am being that way to everyone here. Some of the most highly educated people I know don’t know squat about how to use the Internet for indepth searching… they can barely use email. That doesn’t make them uneducated, it just makes them unfamiliar with something outside of what they are used to. So no, I never once said that romance readers are uneducated, and it’s more than obvious that the writers of the genre are also educated.

    That said, I am not familiar with the genre breakdowns, expectations, or language, and I did not mean “bodice-rippers” in a derorgatory fashion… I don’t know of any romance subgenres beyond historical and paranormal, so I just used terminology that I’ve seen and heard used in years past.

    SF/F is my pond, and I think it’s time I returned to the safety of it :)[/quote]

    Summer, I apologize for being unclear. I did not say, and I also wasn’t trying to imply, that you thought or said that romance readers are uneducated. I was referring to a common stereotype of romance readers that exists in the general population and comparing that stereotype to the stereotype of romance novels as books where bodices get ripped. Both stereotypes are inaccuate, and both stereotypes are widely held, which is why I compared them, but I never thought that you yourself looked at romance readers as uneducated.

    I’m sorry my post had anything to do with driving you away.

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  83. Nora Roberts
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 17:02:36

    I can tell you something I started to do a couple years ago in interviews, when it was very clear the reporter hadn’t done any homework, and knew nothing about the Romance genre. I tell them straight out, at the beginning, not to use the term bodice ripper. It’s old, it’s inaccurate, it’s insulting AND I’ve never written one. So that if they want a current and solid interview, they’ll delete the term from their vocabulary.

    I don’t know if this will help anyone else in an interview situation, but it’s worked for me. Approach is key as well–and intonation is more difficult on the internet. So I’m careful to be clear, but not bitchy when I bring this up.

    I often have Fabio tossed out at me in the same sort of way–and nip that in the bud, too. Nothing against Fabio, blah blah blah, but he has nothing to do with me or what I write, and so on. Then, Mr. or Ms Reporter, what would you like to know?

    It is, in some ways, the same thing as marketing, as labeling. Getting your message across clearly so the reader isn’t confused.

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  84. Sarah McCarty
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 17:06:14

    Ack! Dead hero in a romance? Flying IPAQ? Moments like this are why I have a back up ebookwise. Just in case-

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  85. Michelle
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 18:51:40

    I am a huge fantasy/scifi reader, actually those were some of the first books I have read. Also love mysteries, and romance novels, and paranormal. So I think what was upsetting was the broad generalization.

    I think it reflects more on the individual reader than the genre when they are so close minded and afraid of reading anything new. What happened to intellectual curiosity, wondering what the next story will bring. It is actually a sad thing that people miss such wonderful stories due to narrow minded misconceptions.

    Regarding movies, my absolute favorite is Ladyhawke-that is what I consider a paranormal/fantasy romance (with a happy ending! and a really hot Rutger Hauer). Compared to say Somewhere in Time which I would consider more of a love story.

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  86. Jackie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 19:02:14

    Authors are free to write whatever they want. They may not get their books in front of the millions of romance readers, but if they aren’t going to write romance, why should they? Don’t call it romance if it is not a romance because all it does is piss off readers and make them take LESS chances. Which means that new authors lose out.

    You make it sound like the author makes the marketing call on whether a book will be shelved as paranormal romance or as urban fantasy.

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  87. Anne
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 19:07:15

    Man, am I glad I held off reading/buying this series until other people’s verdicts were in. And here I thought the whole first person thing was the reason people would have issues. Sheesh! Shows what I know *G*

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  88. Anne
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 19:15:52

    Oh, and female doggie has her head up her arse. Sheesh.

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  89. Joyce Ellen Armond
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 19:52:53

    I dunno.

    It seems many are so tied up in getting respect and having a mutually-understood vocabulary among different literary cultures that we may be missing the Big Picture: more books we might like to read, and more opportunities to publish the stories we write.

    Fiction is a living entity, and therefore change and newness shouldn’t be seen as a threat, but as an opportunity. We all come to the book shelves with preconceptions and prejudices. For example, I like to snidely refer to much literary fiction as “subtle homoeroticism at various boys’ schools genre.” And I also will ocassionally wonder if some science fiction authors have attachment disorder, for all the value they place on their characters and their relationships. But as much as all that makes me chuckle, it really isn’t helpful.

    Everyone will catch up — in publishing, in literary criticism, bookstores, everyone — eventually, and until then, there will be the ocassional wall-banging experience.

    Frogs will be kissed, yes, but princes will always appear.

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  90. LinM
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 20:36:14

    Oh well, late for the party, talking to myself, not likely to get flamed.

    1. Jane, I want pictures of you repairing your IPAQ. Thou art assuredly a geek goddess.

    2. So glad I didn’t read Candace Steele.

    3. Summer (who has probably departed), thank you (thank you, thank you) for the links to the Hodgell lectures.

    4. I am so glad I am not an author. The submission guidelines from Juno are bizarre. Some might call our books “paranormal romance", but don’t let either word frighten you off. Maybe that’s what they said to James Frey about autobiography. Classifications matter.

    5. Otoh, the author list for the Guon short story collection sounds strong so I will ignore the category and look at the book.

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  91. Kimber An
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 21:06:08

    Oh, I agree with you, Joyce. That is why I am starting to review books on my blog without regard for genre (almost.)

    One thing, though. I think Linnea Sinclair and Susan Grant have put the no-love-in-space fault of science fiction to rest. ;)

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  92. Jane
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 21:44:28

    Jayne and LinM – I am afraid to open it again. I lost one of the screws. Ned said “I told you so” after I refused his help. But it lives and is fine. Carried it around in my bag today and still runs.

    Wendy – I am not sure the reasoning behind the marketing. Robin’s right in that if we could figure that out, it would be more illuminating. My best guess is the same as you and Tara Marie and others said and that is publishers want the romance dollars because romance readers do buy and read more.

    Kimber An – I have got to get Rumble on the Bayou. May go out tonight.

    Jackie – It is unfortunate that I blame the author. I guess I assume that the author has something to do with labeling and marketing. No? None at all?

    Michelle – When I first read your post, my knee jerk reaction was “I am not narrowminded” but when it comes to reading fiction, I guess I am. I like a certain type of book and I don’t know that I need to apologize for that. It’s just what satisfies me at the end of a hard day. If liking romances and wanting those to have HEAs, then yeah, I am a narrowminded reader who may be missing out. That’s on me as someone famous would say.

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  93. Jackie
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 22:41:05

    Jackie – It is unfortunate that I blame the author. I guess I assume that the author has something to do with labeling and marketing. No? None at all?

    I can’t speak for other authors, of course. In my case, I had no say. I thought my book was urban fantasy, but it was published as paranormal romance. (Maybe I could have had a say, but didn’t know any better.)

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  94. Michelle
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 22:44:56

    No, no, no. Jane you totally misread my post (or I didn’t make myself clear). I was referring to Summer’s post about how scifi/fantasy readers wouldn’t touch romance with a ten foot pole. I mean think how many good books they are missing because they refuse to read Romance. And romance does in my mind require the HEA (that is why I gave my movie analogies). I think it is narrow minded to write off an entire genre because you read one book and didn’t like it or you don’t like bodice ripper covers. That is like refusing to read scifi/fantasy due to some of the old cheesy barbarian/naked Amazon covers.

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  95. Daniela
    Jan 09, 2007 @ 23:29:08

    I would track the author down…what the fa? Kinda reminds me of NORTH AND SOUTH, BOOK 3 HEAVEN & HELL…did anyone ever watch that? North and South was a big AMAZING 80s miniseries I absolutely loved. My parents’ taped it and I watched it over and over. When I grew up and became a woman, they film the 3rd part to the series, in which the hero dies and the heroine ends up with his best friend. True fans of the series don’t even consider the 3rd movie part of the series because it was so upsetting and WRONG.

    I guess publishing houses are trying to sell more books…who knows? I totally understand why you would be upset. I’m glad I’m don’t reading these books!!!

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  96. Not in the least afraid to call myself a bitch if you lot are the "nice" doggies.
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 00:40:21

    It is unfortunate that I blame the author. I guess I assume that the author has something to do with labeling and marketing. No? None at all?

    I suppose it varies by publisher, but for the most part, particularly for new or midlist authors? No. None. Nada. Or damned little. I’m rather surprised you don’t know this, having assumed you back up your everlastingly strong opinions with actual knowledge of the industry and how it works. More fool me.

    But it’s easy to blame the author. She’s got that picture in the back of the book, after all. Makes a much easier target than an amorphous publisher, I suppose.

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  97. Jane
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 01:06:55

    I did blame the publisher. Read the blog post. But I also hear authors saying that they want their books defined as romances or put in the romance section because that is where the readers are so to some extent while authors may not have control, I don’t necessarily think that they are upset being in the romance section even if they aren’t writing romances.

    I specifically remember conversations to that extent discussing the mislabeling of erotica as erotic romances.

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  98. Alison Kent
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 07:10:43

    [quote comment="19141"]I am sure that there are sci fi/fantasy generalizations that make a sci fi reader cringe. Bodice ripper is just a huge hot button issue.[/quote]

    I’ve seen cringing, in fact, over the use of sci fi, when now it’s simply s/f or sf/f. All genres have their shortcuts and hot buttons that those outside the genre aren’t going to be aware of!

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  99. Jackie
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 08:37:11

    I did blame the publisher. Read the blog post.

    I did read the blog post. You also say:

    You market the book as a romance but kill off the hero at the end of the trilogy?

    Come on — this is clearly blaming the author for the marketing.

    But I also hear authors saying that they want their books defined as romances or put in the romance section because that is where the readers are so to some extent while authors may not have control, I don’t necessarily think that they are upset being in the romance section even if they aren’t writing romances.

    What I did when I found out that my book was going to be sold as paranormal romance instead of urban fantasy was start to learn what resources were available to the romance writer, what sites were reviewing romances, and reading other paranormal romance novels. Sure, I was happy to learn how dedicated most romance readers are, how they are more likely to give authors a chance to grow than other genre readers, how popular romance is, period. Why on earth wouldn’t I do my best to leverage whatever resources I could to help promote my novel? If my publisher says it’s romance, then you better believe I’m going to reach out to the romance community.

    What I’ve found so far is a very supportive RWA local chapter, a terrific network of debut and established paranormal romance writers, and a wonderfully vocal readership, one quick to praise what works and point out what doesn’t. This is all good.

    Would I have picked “paranormal romance” as the genre for my novel? No. But I’m the writer, not the publisher–I have no background in marketing or sales, and I have to trust that my publisher knows this stuff better than I do.

    I’m learning a lot about the genre along the way. I’m keeping certain genre rules in mind as I write the next books in the series. Yes, I’m concerned that my book (and series) doesn’t fit neatly into the genre…but nor is it completely out of place. I welcome the feedback I’ve been getting, and I will do my best to take that feedback into account with the next books.

    Marketing isn’t under my control. But working within the parameters set by that marketing decision is. My publisher says I’m a paranormal romance author. I’m doing my urban fantasy best to live up to that claim.

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  100. TeddyPig
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 09:47:04

    I hear that cook books sell too. You might want to look into that. You seem to have the recipe for disaster.

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  101. Jane
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 10:14:20

    Jackie

    That’s interesting about your background re: your book. I did point the finger at the author and that is probably wrong to do. It was my visceral reaction because in my mind, the author as the writer and the book are intertwined. It’s like Troy Smith of Ohio State. When they were winning, he got all the glory. When they lost miserably on Monday night, he got all the blame.

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  102. Jackie
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 10:27:00

    That’s interesting about your background re: your book. I did point the finger at the author and that is probably wrong to do. It was my visceral reaction because in my mind, the author as the writer and the book are intertwined. It’s like Troy Smith of Ohio State. When they were winning, he got all the glory. When they lost miserably on Monday night, he got all the blame.

    Thanks, Jane–I appreciate that. And you’re right: even though it’s a team effort, ultimately, it’s the author who sinks or swims.

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  103. Sandra Barkevich
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 10:52:24

    Wow! I would have been so upset if I’d read that series. In fact, I know I will not be picking it up at all now.

    I have the same problem with Time Travel stories. I actually peek at the last page just to make sure the heroine ends up with the same guy and NOT a reincarnation or something equally distasteful. I mean, to me, a reincarnation is just not the same hero. I believe our actions shape us and make us who we are. If the hero is actually a reincarnation, that new hero has not had the same life experiences and therefore is not the same man. It’s like swapping him out for his twin brother. Gah!

    Excellent post, Jane!

    Sandy :-)
    http://www.sandra.barkevich.com

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  104. Patrice Michelle
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 12:13:05

    This is such an interesting topic. I think the frustration readers are expressing about labeling all boils down to expectations.

    I’d venture a guess that most diehard romance readers have been reading romances since they were teenagers (I know I have!), and they continue to come back to romances for one main reason, a guaranteed HEA. The way I look at it, I don’t want to invest hours of my limited ‘reading time’ a novel that has a story arc of a blossoming love story when at the end, I end up depressed because the hero is killed or dies at the end. It’s all about expectations.

    I had an author friend send me a book once and though I thoroughly enjoyed her story and laughed and giggled through the entire book, I was so frustrated at the end. Why? Because the book didn’t end with an HEA and I assumed it was a romance the whole time I was reading it due to the growing love story throughout the book. My expectations were built up and then dashed at the end. It’s like picking up a glass of refreshing looking tea and taking a big swig, but then you gag when you realize it’s apple juice. It’s not that you don’t like apple juice per se, but you were expecting tea. :)

    I love books that aren’t traditional romances, especially urban fantasies, but I’d like to know going in that they aren’t a ‘romance’ so my enjoyment of the story isn’t undermined by false expectations of an HEA that never pans out. If a book has romantic elements but is shelved in s/f , horror or the general fiction section, romance readers are more willing to cross over and read these types of stories (with expectations of endings without HEAs already set), but if the book is marketed and placed in the romance section when it truly isn’t (ie, no HEA), traditional romance readers get frustrated.

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  105. Kristie(J)
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 15:36:20

    I’m an “end reader” the kind of reader who has to read the end of the book about two chapters in to make sure there is the HEA. Why I do this is a bit of a mystery, but now it’s a habit I can’t seem to break. I’m trying though. Buth this series would have “got” me since the hero didn’t die until the third book and I would have been just as mad a Jane and felt just as betrayed. I’ve read thousands of romance books and only twice has the hero died at the end – one the infamous Sandra Brown book where she needlessly killed off the hero of the previous book and one other book where the hero died in a fire trying to save the heroine. She ended up with someone else. I didn’t read the whole book, as like I said, I usually start reading the end sometime before the end of the second chapter. But like almost everyone else has said, if it’s labeled a romance – no matter what genre – if it doesn’t have the HEA at the end, IT. IS. NOT. A. ROMANCE. BOOK.
    I don’t understand this need to shelve these hybrid books in the romance section. Again as others before me have said, romance readers are open to all different kinds of genres. They (we) are probably the most open group of readers of all and it’s going to backfire if these non-HEA books begin creeping onto the romance shelves.

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  106. Patrice Michelle
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 15:51:46

    Kristie(J) wrote:
    I’m an “end reader" the kind of reader who has to read the end of the book about two chapters in to make sure there is the HEA.

    My MIL does this and I never understood why. I don’t like knowing the ending of a book. I guess I like the journey…hence my need for the right “labeling”.

    But because my MIL reads a lot of romances too, Kristi J’s comment made me realize my MIL probably does this because she wants to know if she is going to be satisfied with the ending before she invests all that reading time. She even did this when she read my upcoming Nocturne book and I was like…”Noooo. Now you know how it ends.” LOL!

    Patrice *who’s feeling enlightened* :)

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  107. Robin
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 16:30:53

    But because my MIL reads a lot of romances too, Kristi J’s comment made me realize my MIL probably does this because she wants to know if she is going to be satisfied with the ending before she invests all that reading time.

    Not only do I read the end of a book way before I get there, but I skip around a book as I’m reading. For me it’s not about reassurance but, I think, about the fact that I’m an extremely impatient person, and it helps keep my attention focused on what’s happening as I’m reading if I already know how things end. At some level it also has to do with the fact that I become bored easily, and skipping around a book keeps me interested. I have no idea why, but I’ve stopped feeling guilty about it.

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  108. Tara Marie
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 16:54:58

    Robin said:

    I’m an extremely impatient person, and it helps keep my attention focused on what’s happening as I’m reading if I already know how things end. At some level it also has to do with the fact that I become bored easily, and skipping around a book keeps me interested.

    I also do this especially with more traditional romances. If I’m reading suspense or paranormal I read front to back never deviating–don’t want any surprises ruined.

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  109. Jackie Beltran
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 18:52:12

    I am a new writer but an old reader. Ten years ago (even five years ago) paranormal fiction was my favorite, the most difficult to find and typically lacking for fear of being labeled more romance than paranormal, for fear of being labeled more plot driven than character driven.

    Thankfully the houses are experimenting. It is past time. I am happily reading my choice of paranormal fiction, for once. They took a chance. The first book held promise, the second was a little dry in one reader’s opinion and the third sucked. Oh well, how many times has that happened?

    Nora Roberts recent paranormal trilogy gave me just a tad too little of everything – but it was excellent in comparison to anything else on the market at that time. I want more variety, more imagination, more experimental plot lines and I agree with Juno – PLEASE do not try to sell me the “only one man for one woman” B.S.

    We want the impossible, otherworld, sexy hero to fight his battles. If he dies to protect the one he loves…Well then, he should. If he knows she’ll be safe with another – Why the hell not? And besides, it’s PARANORMAL – Who knows if the guy actually died? Perhaps he just faded away…

    The point is, this is new territory. It isn’t all romance or all fantasy and the greatest part: those authors brazen enough to write it well are getting a shot at trying it out on readers.

    As for the readers…we’re buying.

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  110. Bev (BB)
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 19:36:26

    [quote comment="19339"]We want the impossible, otherworld, sexy hero to fight his battles. If he dies to protect the one he loves…Well then, he should. If he knows she’ll be safe with another – Why the hell not? And besides, it’s PARANORMAL – [/quote]

    Paranormal, yes. Romance, no.

    No one says the stories shouldn’t be written. Or read. Or enjoyed. Have at them. Just don’t call them romances. Please. That’s all we ask.

    Or would people rather we start calling some of our books science fiction and fantasy as the mood strikes?

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  111. Nora Roberts
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 19:54:47

    ~We want the impossible, otherworld, sexy hero to fight his battles. If he dies to protect the one he loves-Well then, he should. If he knows she’ll be safe with another – Why the hell not? And besides, it’s PARANORMAL~

    I think this is great. I think it’s terrific to experiment, to try new things. Go where no man has gone before, whatever.

    But call it what it is. Paranormal Fiction. Don’t call it Paranormal Romance, when it’s not. You don’t want the one-man/one-woman forever? You thinks that’s B.S? That’s fine, too. But then, it’s not Romance. Why insist on calling it Romance, when you don’t, as you said–want one of the key ingredients that defines the Romance genre?

    Who’s saying don’t write books where the hero dies protecting his lover? Write them, and if they’re good, I’ll read them. Just don’t pretend they’re Romance.

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  112. Lynne Connolly
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 20:00:41

    I jsut want to say that I write paranormal romance. I do the Department 57 series and the Wildfire series.
    And it worries me that people might assume that paranormal romance doesn’t necessarily mean a happy ending.
    Well I guarantee it in mine. The couple might suffer getting there, but they will get there!
    Promise!

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  113. Nonny
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 20:21:13

    Bam said: Paranormal, yes. Romance, no.

    No one says the stories shouldn’t be written. Or read. Or enjoyed. Have at them. Just don’t call them romances. Please. That’s all we ask.

    Or would people rather we start calling some of our books science fiction and fantasy as the mood strikes?

    WORD.

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  114. Sandra Barkevich
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 20:28:04

    I agree with Nora. It’s the label, not the story that is at fault here. As a reader, I have certain expectations when I buy a romance novel. The happily-ever-after is number one, for me.

    Now, that’s not to say I don’t read and enjoy other genres. I just want to know what I’m buying.

    Sandy :-)
    http://www.sandra.barkevich.com

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  115. Jackie Beltran
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 22:47:01

    “But call it what it is. Paranormal Fiction. Don’t call it Paranormal Romance, when it’s not. ”

    Who among us can name the some of the greatest romantic literature in the world where the hero died?

    It IS romance. Think about it…

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  116. Nonny
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 22:55:31

    Jackie said: Who among us can name the some of the greatest romantic literature in the world where the hero died?

    It IS romance. Think about it-

    Romantic literature does not equal genre Romance. They are two completely different animals. There is a reason novelists like Nicholas Sparks, who write what are considered love stories, are not shelved in the romance section.

    By this logic, Dara Joy’s futuristic paranormals are Science Fiction, and Christine Feehan’s vampire romances are Fantasy. Oh, and Laurell K. Hamilton is Mystery.

    I wonder what readers would say about that.

    Just because the books contain elements of one genre does not mean they fit said genre.

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  117. TeddyPig
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 22:55:59

    Um well in my classes stories where people died at the end were called “tragedies”.

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  118. Bev (BB)
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 23:12:00

    [quote comment="19366"]Who among us can name the some of the greatest romantic literature in the world where the hero died?

    It IS romance. Think about it…[/quote]

    I did and immediately I wondered why you didn’t word the question as “Who among us can name some of the greatest ROMANCES in the world where the hero died?”

    Why even use romantic instead?

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  119. Elly
    Jan 10, 2007 @ 23:17:48

    For all those people who can’t understand average romance readers and our need for an HEA, it’s like this: I’m stuck in the real world 24/7 and when I take a break from it to read a book for a few hours, I want to something better than watching CSI: Miami or the nightly news. I want my plot neatly wrapped up at the end, and I want the world to be right for the main couple that I’ve gotten to know so well. There can be books focused on relationships without the HEA, and that’s why they invented Women’s Fiction (and Lifetime Movies!). As far as I’m concerned they can invent a new genre for this too if Fantasy isn’t good enough.

    I personally don’t have the time or emotions at the end of the workday to deal with a book that promises anything less than an HEA, and I don’t want books like these coming along to confuse the genre.

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  120. Tacoma
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 00:06:39

    There was another romance publisher who created an imprint that did not guarantee a happy ending– Harlequin with Red Dress Ink. But they labeled/shelved them in fiction, NOT romance. And everyone was happy, and the books sell quite well. And nobody was fooled with. Because Harlequin respected their readers.

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  121. Patrice Michelle
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 00:56:04

    I think where the breakdown happens is due to the following:

    To people who are very familiar with the romance genre, the word ROMANCE means a love story will be a central theme in the book and the book will have a satisfying HEA ending.

    To people who are unfamilar with the romance genre, the word ROMANCE means a love story will be included in the book.

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  122. Jorrie Spencer
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 08:34:48

    To people who are unfamilar with the romance genre, the word ROMANCE means a love story will be included in the book.

    I think that’s right. I hung out on an sff board for a while and people were regularly dumbfounded that romance required that the hero and heroine end up happily alive and together at the end. They usually felt that this requirement must stifle for the writer, among other things.

    I think some of us are wired to demand an HEA in our reading (not in every single book, but certainly those that are labeled Romance) and some of us are not invested in an HEA. And the latter doesn’t always get the former.

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  123. Nora Roberts
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 08:35:41

    Stephen King’s book The Dead Zone had a wonderful bitter-sweet love story included–and the hero dies not only for the girl, but for mankind. I think King would be preplexed, and perhaps amused if this book was labeled Romance.

    Maybe you could think about it. And when doing so give some examples of great literature or popular fiction where either the hero or heroine dies that was labled and marketed as Romance. Specifically labeled and marketed as such, not simply considered romantic.

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  124. Nora Roberts
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 08:42:56

    ~To people who are unfamilar with the romance genre, the word ROMANCE means a love story will be included in the book. ~

    I can absolutely go along with this. But.

    If you decide you want to target the Romance reader, and market your books as Romances, then you need to understand what a Romance novel is, and respect the expectations of the genre.

    Joan Casual Reader doesn’t have to understand, but the writers and publishers who are looking to label, market and sell the work as Romance certainly do.

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  125. Tara Marie
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 11:45:24

    Joprie said:

    I hung out on an sff board for a while and people were regularly dumbfounded that romance required that the hero and heroine end up happily alive and together at the end. They usually felt that this requirement must stifle for the writer, among other things.

    I don’t understand this. Nobody says an author has to write a happily ever after ending. They can write whatever the heck they want. But if they want to reach the ROMANCE market they need to include a HEA.

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  126. Tara Marie
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 11:47:47

    sorry that was supposed to be Jorie said… not Joprie said–LOL.

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  127. Jane
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 12:33:29

    Yes, why would an author want to write a romance book, even a paranormal, s/f/f/ romance, if they didn’t want the HEA? I would think that if I was a romance author, I would be spitting mad about the attempts to redefine the genre or broaden the genre or break down the genre barrier.

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  128. Jorrie Spencer
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 12:41:39

    Those dumbfounded were generally not writers targeting romance. It was simply that an HEA was a new concept to them.

    But, as Nora Roberts says, if you’re targeting or marketing the romance genre, it’s certainly up to you to educate yourself.

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  129. Nonny
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 12:42:53

    Tara Marie said: They usually felt that this requirement must stifle for the writer, among other things.

    Not really. I write romance (as well as fantasy), but if I want to write a story that doesn’t have a happy ending, I won’t market it to Romance; I’ll market it to Fantasy, or Erotica, or Mystery, or wherever else it might fit. :)

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  130. Jackie Beltran
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 13:10:13

    Big Sigh…So that means I can’t kill my hero? Hmmmm…perhaps he should just disappear until he recovers.

    Seriously though, I haven’t read the books mentioned and I think it would depend upon the way the story was presented. If, throughout, I am given hints that the hero will die then I would probably accept that. Again, speaking from ignorance, many romantic novels (genre romance?) have two alpha males. One dies and the other gets the girl..right? Can I assume from the entries I’ve read, that this also cannot be considered genre romance? Could this example become and acceptable scenario in the paranormal romance genre?

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  131. Bev (BB)
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 13:14:11

    [quote comment="19436"]Not really. I write romance (as well as fantasy), but if I want to write a story that doesn’t have a happy ending, I won’t market it to Romance; I’ll market it to Fantasy, or Erotica, or Mystery, or wherever else it might fit. :)[/quote]

    Yeah, but people, ya’ll are missing the point. They’re trying to have their cake and eat it too. They want to have the non-HEA endings and use the label paranormal romance on the books. Not because they think they’re romances in the sense we think of romances but because they’re something else altogether.

    Apparently something elevated above this genre’s expectations . . .

    THEY ARE STEALING OUR NAME!

    And being quite coy about it by using the dictionary definition to do it. “Oh, they’re just glorified adventures with paranormal elements. That’s what we mean by romances. We don’t actually mean (holding their noses) those types of books at all,”

    Nevermind that the suggested book list on the article defending the entire position includes a dozen or more regular romance authors and books.

    ARGH!

    I tried to be good, Jane. I really did. ;p

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  132. Angie
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 13:17:21

    I’ve kind of been loosely been following this discussion as the comments sporadically get delivered to my inbox and around comment 125 or so, it hit me that it seems most of the people pushing for a change in the genre definition, or saying that we should be more open to changing the genre definition, are those outside the genre–who don’t read or write it either at all or with any sort of devotion. And it makes me wonder why THEY are so interested in changing the definition or having romance readers be willing to change it. I can only guess it’s because they want a piece of that 50% market share, eh?

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  133. Lynne Connolly
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 13:25:39

    [quote comment="19440"]Big Sigh…So that means I can’t kill my hero? Hmmmm…perhaps he should just disappear until he recovers.

    No, it doesn’t mean that. You just have to have the happy ending. I write paranormal romance, and I like to put my heroes and heroines through the wringer.

    “Seriously though, I haven’t read the books mentioned and I think it would depend upon the way the story was presented. If, throughout, I am given hints that the hero will die then I would probably accept that. Again, speaking from ignorance, many romantic novels (genre romance?) have two alpha males. One dies and the other gets the girl..right? Can I assume from the entries I’ve read, that this also cannot be considered genre romance? Could this example become and acceptable scenario in the paranormal romance genre?[/quote]

    Well yes, but you haven’t read much erotic romance, have you? Menages are common, and nobody has to die in the end!

    Basically, romance readers, readers of that enormously popular, much-despised genre, have certain expectations they are, IMO, entitled to.
    First, the romance must be the center of the story. Whatever else happens, it’s all about the romance. Otherwise it’s a horror with romantic elements, suspense with romantic elements, paranormal with romantic elements, etc. It is not a romance.
    The story is mostly told from the point of view of the people involved in the romance. Yes, it’s limited, and it’s sometimes not used, but the majority of them are like that.
    Lastly, the happy ending. It doesn’t even have to be a happy ever after, it can be a happy-for-now, but it has to end on a high note.
    The rest is up to the writer.

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  134. Nora Roberts
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 13:33:23

    ~They want to have the non-HEA endings and use the label paranormal romance on the books. ~

    ~I can only guess it’s because they want a piece of that 50% market share, eh? ~

    Word(s).

    Again, a romantic novel is different from a genre Romance novel. No, you can’t kill your hero. There may indeed be two alpha males in the story, but only one is the hero. The heroine may even have relationships with both men, depending on the story line, but only ONE relationship will be key. By and large there will be one central, developing romantic relationship in a Romance novel, and that relationship will end happily. These are elemental genre requirements. Deviating from this isn’t a problem. Deviating from it and insisting on labeling your book Romance is.

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  135. Tara Marie
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 13:36:29

    Jackie… said

    Seriously though, I haven’t read the books mentioned and I think it would depend upon the way the story was presented If, throughout, I am given hints that the hero will die then I would probably accept that.

    First this would depend on whether or not you’re a ROMANCE reader and whether or not the book was marketed as a romance. If it’s marketed as a ROMANCE NOVEL to ROMANCE READERS, then no the hero CAN NOT die, even if the book is chock full of hints.

    Again, speaking from ignorance, many romantic novels (genre romance?) have two alpha males. One dies and the other gets the girl..right? Can I assume from the entries I’ve read, that this also cannot be considered genre romance? Could this example become and acceptable scenario in the paranormal romance genre?

    Umm, I haven’t come across that many “genre romance” books where the author kills off a potential future hero. But as long as there’s a believable HEA for the couple it works. So I guess it could be an “acceptable scenario in the paranormal romance genre”.

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  136. Tara Marie
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 13:41:59

    Angie said…

    And it makes me wonder why THEY are so interested in changing the definition or having romance readers be willing to change it. I can only guess it’s because they want a piece of that 50% market share, eh?

    Exactly!

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  137. Bev (BB)
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 13:50:43

    And you know what? The whole HEA vs. non-HEA issue is just a smoke cloud covering up the fact that they don’t really care what’s in the books . . . as long as paranormal is not perceived to be part of genre romance.

    Think about that.

    According to them, paranormal romance is not part of romance. It’s part of science fiction and fantasy.

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  138. Bev (BB)
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 14:10:01

    [quote comment="19454"]According to them, paranormal romance is not part of romance. It’s part of science fiction and fantasy.[/quote]

    I meant to include the link earlier but didn’t. Here it is. Paranormal Romance: Here, There, and Everywhere With the New Science Fiction This is one of the articles that Ms. Guran was basing her comments on yesterday. It’s on a magazine site that you have to sign into but that is free. The article is . . . enlightening.

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  139. Tara Marie
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 14:10:27

    And you know what? The whole HEA vs. non-HEA issue is just a smoke cloud covering up the fact that they don’t really care what’s in the books . . . as long as paranormal is not perceived to be part of genre romance.

    Think about that.

    According to them, paranormal romance is not part of romance. It’s part of science fiction and fantasy.And you know what? The whole HEA vs. non-HEA issue is just a smoke cloud covering up the fact that they don’t really care what’s in the books . . . as long as paranormal is not perceived to be part of genre romance.

    Think about that.

    According to them, paranormal romance is not part of romance. It’s part of science fiction and fantasy.

    So Bev, does this mean they want to be able to read paranomal romances without the stigma of being a “romance reader”. Or do they want to cash in on the “romance” market without having to fit within the parameters of romance. Or somehow both.

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  140. Robin
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 14:14:52

    I don’t think Paula Guran sees herself as trying to fool or exploit any readership, and I get the sense that she sees those of us challenging her use of the term “paranormal romance” as misunderstanding her. I wish she’d freakin’ answer the comments on her blog so I could get a better sense of what the heck she’s really trying to do (I know she thinks she’s been clear, but I still have many questions, especially after reading Cynthia Ward’s piece).

    I still don’t fully understand where she’s coming from in using a term that is so explicitly associated with genre Romance. Is it that publishers who use this term more broadly don’t know about genre definitions for Romance, or that they are simply trying to take back, in a way, the older and broader term “romance”? If it’s the second, then perhaps they aren’t trying to target genre Romance readers at all, but are really trying to carve out a different niche for the hybriudized vision they have. The wisdom of that, of course, especially since paranormal Romance is riding such a wave of popularity right now, is debatable, IMO. But I’m not convinced the motives are nefarious — at least not across the board.

    There are many ways in which, as a Romance reader myself, I believe that the RWA definition is much broader than its interpretation by readers. I don’t think the ending has to be HEA to be “optimistic” and “emotionally satisfying,” although many Romance readers do. And even though a central relationship must be the focus of genre Romance, I don’t think the RWA definition per se excludes polyamory, as long as their is an optimistic ending and a central love relationship. Certainly I don’t think Romance requires a man and a woman, and not two men or two women (or woman and vampire, etc.). After all, if we take the defintion TOO literally, most paranormal Romance wouldn’t likely qualify because some of the protagonists aren’t “people” in the literal sense. So I think there’s a difference in some cases between reader expectations and genre defintion. That said, though, reader expectations are powerful, and they play a role in how quickly the genre evolves (i.e. the acceptance of erotic Romance as a viable subgenre) and in how far the definition can be interpreted. To not have some sort of happy ending, for example, will definitely disappoint reader expectations AND extend beyond the genre defintion, while having a happy ending that is not a HEA may disappoint readers but is not definitionally invalid.

    So for me, the question is about labeling and about definitional boundaries and reader expectations. I’d like to see more books that pushed toward the edge of those boundaries (within the generic parameters, though), while some readers don’t want anything less than one man, one woman, one HEA. So I understand how it might be confusing for outsiders to discern properly what genre Romance is and isn’t, because there is, IMO, a fair amount of dispute within the genre as to what constitutes the “proper” engagement of genre rules.

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  141. Bev (BB)
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 14:16:45

    [quote comment="19459"]So Bev, does this mean they want to be able to read paranomal romances without the stigma of being a “romance reader”. Or do they want to cash in on the “romance” market without having to fit within the parameters of romance.

    Or somehow both.[/quote]

    Honest to god, Tara, I have no idea. I’ve been helping Jane research this since yesterday for a future post she’s doign and I still can’t make heads or tails of where their heads are. It makes no sense to suddenly want to claim the term romance when they have to know it will turn off a large majority of their own fanbase. So why do it?

    I just posted a link to the main article that seems to what they’re using for defending their thinking. Go read it and tell us what YOU all think.

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  142. Robin
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 14:33:02

    does this mean they want to be able to read paranomal romances without the stigma of being a “romance reader". Or do they want to cash in on the “romance" market without having to fit within the parameters of romance. Or somehow both.

    Tara Marie, I read Ward’s article, as well, and commented on it at Guran’s blog. Mostly, I was struck by how even Ward seems to see the term as problematic, saying, “And this brings us to a problem with the term ‘paranormal romance’: it’s misleading. In this context, the word ‘romance’ doesn’t only mean ‘new-found love." It also means ‘adventure.’"

    Of onlline bookstores, she says, “And to be blunt, online bookstores allow paranormal romance to be purchased by raeders who wouldn’t be caught dead in the romance section, as it allows SF/F to be purchased by readers who wouldn’t be caught dead in the SF/F section."

    So it seems that there might be some attempt to capture several markets at once, but I wonder if a lot of this really is a failure to understand both the genre definition of Romance and mainstream reader expectations of Romance. Once you are inside a community I think it’s difficult to imagine that outsiders really don’t know the score, but given some of the SF/F comments on Romance we’ve seen in this thread, obviously it’s possible. I know I’m very ignorant of most SF/F reader expectations — and that is after TA’ing a university course on science fiction a number of years ago.

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  143. Tara Marie
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 14:41:23

    Bev and Robin… I posted before reading the article. I’m heading out to pick up the 5 year old from school. I’ll try to read it tonight.

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  144. Bev (BB)
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 14:41:57

    [quote comment="19466"]Of onlline bookstores, she says, “And to be blunt, online bookstores allow paranormal romance to be purchased by raeders who wouldn’t be caught dead in the romance section, as it allows SF/F to be purchased by readers who wouldn’t be caught dead in the SF/F section."
    [/quote]

    And here I only thought that comment was just dumb all the way around. If I want a book I’m goign to find it. Doesn’t matter what section it’s in. I’m not sure how much that has to do with being a romance reader or not either. The paranormal romance label certainly hasn’t made it any easier one way or another, which what’s so strange about them being so fixated on it.

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  145. Robin
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 15:06:23

    If I want a book I’m goign to find it. Doesn’t matter what section it’s in.

    I read Ward’s comment as related to the fact that online bookstores in general are friendlier to genre crossing by not forcing readers to physically associate a book with a shelving category. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I buy from Amazon, I have no idea what genre something is classified as, in part because there’s no section to which I go. The way Amazon recommends other books seems to be it’s own version of shelving, in a sense, and I’m assuming that Ward is referring in part to the more fluid presentation of books in an online venue.

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  146. Meljean
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 15:16:48

    “But I’m not convinced the motives are nefarious — at least not across the board.”

    I’m not convinced of it either — but I do think that there is that basic misunderstanding of the Romance genre and the genre readers at work, and I’m not sure that’s really excusable for a publisher. How can they not know their audience, and the audience expectations? How can they not know that labeling it “paranormal romance” will land their books in an already-existing genre, a genre that has stringent requirements for a HEA?

    If the need for a “romance” label is all that powerful … why not call it “romantic paranormal fiction”? That automatically tips off the hard-core romance genre reader that a HEA is up for grabs, and lets the SF/F reader know that a love story will be a prominent aspect of the novel.

    I’m all for exploring new avenues within the romance genre, and taking stories in different directions — but I guess I am one of those readers who, when it is called a romance and it is shelved in the romance section, think that should come with a HEA (which, to me, just means a commitment in a loving relationship).

    So in the end, if there is an insistence on calling it “paranormal romance” despite the genre connotations and the audience it carries (a pre-existing audience) with a sole agenda of taking back “romance” … I dunno. I can admire that, on one level. But it also says to me that someone hasn’t done their market homework, no matter how much literary homework has been done.

    And as a genre reader, I’d still be pissed that the label promised something I didn’t get.

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  147. Robin
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 15:27:30

    If the need for a “romance" label is all that powerful – why not call it “romantic paranormal fiction"? That automatically tips off the hard-core romance genre reader that a HEA is up for grabs, and lets the SF/F reader know that a love story will be a prominent aspect of the novel.

    My guess about not using the term “romantic” is that it suggests a love story for those outside the Romance genre, and what Guran and other seem to be saying is that they want to invoke the old-style adventure aspects of the term “romance.” But I agree with you more generally that they are not doing themselves many favors by using the term “paranormal romance” as they do. Guran indicated on her blog that she anticipated some of the backlash from Romance readers (she points to the way some SF/F/ fans protested Harlequin’s Luna line), so she’s not ignorant of reader expectations.

    To me, there’s a fine line between wanting to expand generic expectations and alienating the current reader base. If this were, say, an integration or civil rights issue, I’d say go ahead and push. But in a genre fiction situation, I think a slower approach would be more effective and limited in downsides.

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  148. Nora Roberts
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 15:44:24

    ~and what Guran and other seem to be saying is that they want to invoke the old-style adventure aspects of the term “romance."~

    If this is the case, why not use Paranormal Adventure? It’s clear.

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  149. Bev (BB)
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 15:46:34

    [quote comment="19472"]I’m not convinced of it either — but I do think that there is that basic misunderstanding of the Romance genre and the genre readers at work, and I’m not sure that’s really excusable for a publisher. [/quote]

    But, see, with regards to that article we’re not even talking about a publisher labeling future books, we’re talking about someone “relabeling” existing books. I mean I was really surprised to see Archangel by Sharon Shinn called a paranormal romance and Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro called a futuristic romance. Not to mention Forbidden Magic by Jo Beverley called a paranormal romance. I suppose calling Robb’s In Death series a futuristic romance is not that much or a stretch so that can slide, but the list goes on.

    And on.

    And on.

    No, it’s not nefarious. It’s just a downright weird collection of thoughts coming from a science fiction point of view.

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  150. Robin
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 15:58:52

    ~and what Guran and other seem to be saying is that they want to invoke the old-style adventure aspects of the term “romance."~

    If this is the case, why not use Paranormal Adventure? It’s clear.

    My guess is that they also want to invoke some of the relationship aspects of romance, because their fiction is more women-centered and some of it seems to be closer to Romance than straight adventure. The hybridization here seems to be not only within individual books but among them, as well.

    While I completely understand why Romance readers are pissed, and while I think what Juno has done is very problematic (and I get that they’re not the only ones using the term), I also have this mental image of Paula Guran dropping her head to her desk in consternation that we Romance readers must think the world revolves around us to be so certain we’re the targets of deceptive marketing tactics. Because even though I do think we were part of the equation here, I think it’s perhaps the thinking beyond us that accounts for the use of the term “paranormal romance” in the Juno sense.

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  151. Jenn L
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 16:16:16

    Wow, This whole thing is clearly quite controversial. I will say this I expect as reader of romances to get my happy ending. Like Jane if I don’t get it I will be very angry. I appreciate that this article was posted, simply because I considered paying good money for all three of these books. So you have saved me 21.00 or so dollars on books I would be disappointed in to say the least.

    The only thing to me that is a shame in this is that any other authors that are published by this publisher are probably not going to get looked at by me. I want my romance to be a just that, and if their line of “Paranormal Romance” is not going to give me the HEA I want, I will get them from a source I know I can trust. Jaci Burton, for example, writes what I consider Paranormal Romance. Surviving Demon Island has it paranormal elements, but at it’s core there is a real relationship being built. I get my fill of demons and the like with the romance and love story I want in one excellent package.

    So Cameron Dean’s books are off my TBB List.

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  152. Teddy Pig
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 16:27:15

    I think from both of their attitudes towards some of the highly intelligent Romance readers and writers comments here on the board I feel I can safely assume that MONEY AND GREED is the key to this whole “Romance can mean whatever I the publisher or I the author want it to mean while I razzle and dazzle you with that old esoteric footnotery.” argument.

    This is NOT the attitude one takes when you are honestly concerned about your customer’s expectations or maintaining your customers future interest.

    Bad business is just bad business, and articles and rants about genre definitions may be of philosophical or academic interest, but I’m sorry to tell you, it is not going to impress anybody to spend their bucks if they know you have failed to meet their expectations author-wise or publisher-wise or story-wise.

    Especially if they end up killing their IPAQ.

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  153. Jackie Beltran
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 17:09:16

    I can only chime in as a reader. I have no formal experience with publishing. I haven’t counted the number of Nora Roberts romance novels I own (several). Before her, it was Jude Devereaux. Before her, it was anything with a steamy looking cover.

    I loved it when Nora Roberts began writing paranormal romance. And yes, I prefer paranormal to the normal. The HEA part, as a reader, is debatable in paranormal romance, IMHO. My expectation is a strong romance, a true romance – with a twist. If I’m reading a paranormal romance, I’m doing it because I know the lines are gray, because I want to be surprised. I don’t want paranormal erotica but if I get a little of that, I’m okay. I still want everything I would find in the traditional romance genre novel – but…surprise me.

    I think marketing trends are interesting (I’m weird). For example, the readers five years from now will not have issues with genre romances that cross racial barriers. The generation to come isn’t as homophobic as those before it. This will add yet another debate – just as soon as we finish this one.

    Before, if I wanted paranormal, I was forced to read scifi or some very badly written erotica. Now, I have the option of reading a well-written paranormal romance. Soon, hopefully there will be authors who will dare to write a genre romance about a Mexican illegal immigrant heroine and her ‘knight in shining armor” – a white sherriff. And who knows…perhaps the heroine is a bruja…

    And where would it be shelved? Why, in the genre romance section, of course.

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  154. Bev (BB)
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 17:14:24

    [quote comment="19480"]While I completely understand why Romance readers are pissed, and while I think what Juno has done is very problematic (and I get that they’re not the only ones using the term), I also have this mental image of Paula Guran dropping her head to her desk in consternation that we Romance readers must think the world revolves around us to be so certain we’re the targets of deceptive marketing tactics. Because even though I do think we were part of the equation here, I think it’s perhaps the thinking beyond us that accounts for the use of the term “paranormal romance” in the Juno sense.[/quote]

    Just to be clear here, I’m more bemused at how they think this is going to fly with the SF/F fan base than with us. Frankly, I think we’re too smart to buy it past the first book if we don’t like what we get. Period.

    Quite frankly, Robin, you’re absolutely right. We’re not the target audience they’re trying to sucker. Essentially, someone’s come up with the truly “brilliant” idea of trying to convince science fiction/fantasy fans that these paranormal romance books are the embodiment of some lofty idea of something that goes beyond the label of romance that they’ve been “stuck” with in the past. That somehow they sprung fully developed from SF/F so they’re no longer tainted by all that romance baggage.

    And you know what? Someone might sell a few books in the future using that approach but I’m not sure how many. Not because the concept isn’t novel or even intriquing. But because it’s rewriting history. Plain and simple. Paranormal romance did not originate within science fiction or fantasy. As long as they cannot acknowledge that they’re building a house of cards.

    No, the world doesn’t and shouldn’t revolve around us romance readers but at a certain point one does have to ask just how much should it matter to us that something WE as a group supported into becoming such a valuable commodity is suddenly twisted around this way?

    World politics, no. But truth is still truth.

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  155. Bev (BB)
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 17:16:23

    Well, how did I end up putting that last post entirely in quotes. I think I need a nap. ;p

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  156. Nora Roberts
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 17:22:11

    ~I still want everything I would find in the traditional romance genre novel – but-surprise me.~

    Actually, no you don’t still want everything you’d find in the Romance genre novel, as you stated the HEA isn’t a requirement for you. Therefore, a key element of the genre doesn’t matter to you–and that’s fine. But once again, if it’s labeled, marketed, published as a Romance, it needs to include the HEA.

    As to the genre accepting mixed-race romances, etc–that acceptance doesn’t change the genre definition at all. That still remains with the two main characters–whatever race, sex or species–in a key romantic relationship that ends happily. These are evolutions within the genre–not the casting away of what defines the genre.

    I’m delighted you enjoy my books.

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  157. Sara Dennis
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 17:28:56

    BevBB says:

    We’re not the target audience they’re trying to sucker. Essentially, someone’s come up with the truly “brilliant" idea of trying to convince science fiction/fantasy fans that these paranormal romance books are the embodiment of some lofty idea of something that goes beyond the label of romance that they’ve been “stuck" with in the past. That somehow they sprung fully developed from SF/F so they’re no longer tainted by all that romance baggage.

    I’m really not sure that Paula’s trying to pull a fast one over on anyone. I believe that this is just a matter of not truly understanding how hard we romance readers and authors hang onto that HEA. Now she knows, obviously.

    I just talked about this with the DH over lunch and he didn’t get why people would be so upset either. He’s a sf/f reader, not a romance reader, so the mindset is similiar with Ms. Guran.

    It’s a matter of differences of opinion inside and outside the genre.

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  158. Karen Scott
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 17:32:20

    I have nothing constructive to add, I just want to see if we can get up to 200 comments.

    *whistling*

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  159. Nora Roberts
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 17:50:18

    ~It’s a matter of differences of opinion inside and outside the genre.~

    Okay. I wonder how the publishers, writers and core readers of SF/F would react if someone decided to start up a line of books that left out a key element of that genre and wanted to mix it up with Mystery. Let’s say otherwordly/fantasy/SF aspects were not required–they were optional depending on the storyline. Ordinary people in ordinary situations were just fine, too. And they opted to label and market it as SF/F-Mystery. Sometimes there might be fantasy or SF elements, sometimes not.

    I’m pretty sure the readers picking one up, then finding the book didn’t contain the key element for the genre would be pretty annoyed.

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  160. Sara Dennis
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 18:08:32

    Nora said:

    I’m pretty sure the readers picking one up, then finding the book didn’t contain the key element for the genre would be pretty annoyed.

    I agree with you, I think they would. As a matter of fact the DH mentioned a couple of sf novels that are heavy on the romance and light on the sf aspects and told me that he’d felt very let down.

    I’m just saying that I don’t think it’s an intentional wool-over-the-eyes thing. I think it’s just a failure to understand the genre and it’s requirements.

    Though I did notice that the PW review of Juno’s anthology says that some of the books do have the HEA.

    So if some of the stories do fit the genre, and others don’t, where is the line drawn on whether the anthology as a whole can use the “romance” designation?

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  161. Jackie Beltran
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 20:14:25

    Let me take just a tiny space to say that I am very thankful for the opportunity to read and respond to a blog that contains publishers, authors and readers. Most of all, I feel good that no one took my head off for my ignorance. Thank you for that.

    Also, as a fan I just have to put this down: “WOOOOHOOOOO, Nora Roberts responded to my posts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    Sorry, guys… ;) I’m under control now…

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  162. Beverly
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 20:20:59

    After reading this whole discussion, the one thing I’m most curious about is the amount of hubris involved for these people to think that they can single-handedly change generations of the evolution of language to return the meaning of the word “romance” back to an older definition.

    How many people here really think that the average reader, the average person, is suddenly going to say “Oh my goodness, the word romance doesn’t mean what I’ve always thought it meant, it really means an adventure story that doesn’t necessarily involve love at all. Common knowledge and publishing companies have betrayed me by leaving me with a misunderstanding of the word romance.”

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  163. racyli
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 21:22:06

    I used to be on the side that romance doesn’t need a happy ending, but I think in terms of selling the genre, people should stick with what readers want and expect. If they demand an HEA in romance, then they should get it. Nora’s right: if I picked up a book in the scifi book with a picture of a spaceship on the cover, there better damn well be a spaceship in the story or something to do with space; I don’t care if its the best novel in the world, if it doesn’t have a spaceship, I’m going to be very annoyed, because I bought it because it had a spaceship. Recently I have had instances where I picked up a few books, which shall remain unnamed, expecting a romance where they didn’t have an HEA, and I was quite peeved. I suppose it’s like ordering sushi and getting pasta. I like pasta, but goddamn it, I went to a restaurant because I wanted sushi!

    Though as a random aside, I would like to point out that in the western world, an HEA is an accepted and expected part of the romance genre (though I would like to point out that in Japan, which has a much older literary tradition, what is considered romance are stories of love that end in suicide, Romeo and Juliet style, and there were some traditionalists over there complaining about western publishers like Harlequin trying to infiltrate the market with western style HEAs making many of the exact same arguments here). I suppose that’s why I end up staying away from most Japanese and Russian lit because they’re all into being really depressed and ending sadly i.e. Dr. Zhivago.

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  164. Miki
    Jan 11, 2007 @ 23:49:48

    After reading this whole discussion, the one thing I’m most curious about is the amount of hubris involved for these people to think that they can single-handedly change generations of the evolution of language to return the meaning of the word “romance" back to an older definition.

    I think this is what gets me most, too. Why do they feel a need to “redefine” romance?

    A friend of mine convinced me to join a Yahoo chat group called “dark-romance-novels”, telling me they had interesting conversations there. I joined, and discussions were interesting and lively. But I didn’t read the “charter”, and one day quite innocently made a comment like: “well of course it’s not a romance if it doesn’t have an HEA”. After getting my head bit off by numerous angry and self-righteous posters, I decided I didn’t need to stay.

    Turns out, this group was specifically banded together to “redefine” romance in much the same way Juno is trying – love story (HEA optional), dark elements, adventure. In fact (having now read the main page), the group actually brags that their members’ books “violate one or more of the rules of Formula Romances”.

    It’s been said a dozen (or more) times already here, but genre fiction could all be termed “formula”. If you don’t like the “romance” formula, read/write the one you do, be it “mystery” or “science fiction” or “horror” or whatever. Or write “outside” the formula – just don’t try to label it with one of the formula labels!

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  165. Kat
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 04:31:48

    I understand that the word “romance” has a broader meaning, but I don’t see what’s so difficult about the romance genre in fiction having a narrower definition. If anyone tried to redefine the Romance period in classical music or what constitutes a Romance language, no one would even take those suggestions seriously.

    I also wonder if sf/f readers would consider the “bad guy” winning as a satisfactory ending to a novel/series? If Sauron got the ring in the end, would Tolkien have been as popular? Would readers have felt betrayed by the ending? That’s how I’d feel as a romance reader if the book ended up without a happy ending. That’s how I felt when my hubby rented Sweet November and told me it had a happy ending…and Charlize Theron left Keanu because she had a terminal illness. I’m still holding that against him.

    And, erm, Harry Potter better not die…

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  166. Bev (BB)
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 05:35:41

    [quote comment="19493"]I’m really not sure that Paula’s trying to pull a fast one over on anyone. I believe that this is just a matter of not truly understanding how hard we romance readers and authors hang onto that HEA. Now she knows, obviously.[/quote]

    Maybe she’s just one of the ones Ward has “convinced” but does that truly make a difference? I don’t really see one. At least not according to what’s she’s saying on the Juno blog. That’s where we learned about the Ward article to begin with.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do believe Guran was brought up short by the fact that we had the nerve to question what she was saying and were very good at doing it. I’m just not sure we made any impression on the mindset. They seem to really want to believe that paranormal romance isn’t part of romance. That’s it’s something else. Which is where replacing it with adventure come in. There’s an almost desparation behind it.

    I could understand calling it a blend between two genres as long as one of the genres was romance. We do that all the time with many of the sub-genres of romance as I’m sure other genres do with theirs. I’m just not sure they’re even allowing romance to be in the picture this time and that bothers me. Not in a seeing red kind of way, but definitely in a “this is wrong and twisted” way. It just is.

    One can’t wipe out the influence of another genre just because it is uncomfortable and inconvenient. It is what it is.

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  167. Nora Roberts
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 06:13:11

    If it’s okay to use old terminology in labeling and marketing books–i.e., Romance=high adventure, how about if a publisher decided to start up a new line calling it Gay Romance? The books aren’t about same sex relationships, but contain stories of love (or high adventure) where everyone’s really, really happy.

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  168. Ann Wesley Hardin
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 06:24:56

    There ya go, Nora. And paranormal could be Queer Romance.

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  169. Jackie Beltran
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 10:16:40

    Nora Roberts and Ann Wesley Hardin:

    LMAO….ewwwwwww.

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  170. Sara Dennis
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 11:25:38

    I write romance. I think sticking the romance label on something that isn’t romance, intentionally, is deceptive, yes. I’m not arguing against anyone here on that point.

    I am, however, still curious about how much romance in an anthology is enough to call the *whole thing* romance. As I said before, the Publisher’s Weekly review says that some of the stories *are* HEA-romance genre standard stories. Some of them are not.

    In that case, how should the anthology be labeled? If there are some complete stories that are romance, is that enough to use the label? Does the presence of any non-romance mean that the label shouldn’t be used?

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  171. Angie
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 11:34:50

    If there are some complete stories that are romance, is that enough to use the label? Does the presence of any non-romance mean that the label shouldn’t be used?

    I don’t have any easy answer for that, though I do have an opinion ;)

    But for the sake of argument, let’s say you call an anthology an inspirational anthology. But only three stories are inspirational. The other two are sexy romances. Is that okay?

    Or you call an anthology an erotic romance anthology, but only two of the stories are erotic romance, one is inspirational.

    In these cases, because the majority is what the label says, is it sufficient to call it that? Or are you misleading your customer because what’s between the pages isn’t totally what’s “promised” by the name?

    My thought is that going in, you know what you’re going to call it, so you choose material that’s appropriate, otherwise you have to accept/expect some irate customers and the fallout from those expecting all inspirational romance and getting sexy/erotic romance as well. Extreme examples but sometimes it’s the extreme examples that help highlight the argument the best ;)

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  172. Bev (BB)
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 11:51:16

    [quote comment="19617"]In that case, how should the anthology be labeled? If there are some complete stories that are romance, is that enough to use the label? Does the presence of any non-romance mean that the label shouldn’t be used?[/quote]

    I doubt most romance readers would have any problems with a combination of stories being called romantic paranormal fiction and would probably be quite happy to take a chance on the book in that case. IN fact, they might even enjoy it immensely and recommend it to others for what it is. It’s just that sticking a blanket label of romance on there implies that all the stories fulfill the expected romance criteria when they don’t. That, as several have said repeatedly, is unacceptable marketing.

    This is not something brand new that we’re just making up. This is the way the market is and has been for years. (And yes, Racy, we are talking about the Western market. ;p~~~) If it sounds like we’re being territorial, then I suspect it’s true that we are. I mean the market didn’t get that way because no one liked it that way. The definition of genre romance evolved to this because the majority of the market likes it that way.

    Will that change in the future? Possibly. But I don’t see any real evidence of it happening any time soon. Witness the intense reactions here.

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  173. sybil
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 12:38:51

    [quote comment="19499"]Though I did notice that the PW review of Juno’s anthology says that some of the books do have the HEA.

    So if some of the stories do fit the genre, and others don’t, where is the line drawn on whether the anthology as a whole can use the “romance” designation?[/quote]

    You call it fiction. You don’t put the label romance on books where some will be and some will not be.

    Yes the publisher would be at fault. But it is going to be the authors name on the cover. So you take your chances. It isn’t my problem as the reader to make sure that authors read their contracts.

    I like authors. I love romance. And I would love for all of you to get the deal of the life time and make tons of money. But honestly it isn’t my problem. The same way authors aren’t sitting at home wondering what they can do to make sure my boss honors his promises to me.

    I am a romance reader. You sell me a romance – it better be a romance. Otherwise don’t be shocked when it pisses me off. Why do we have to change?

    If authors and publishers want to makes changes and help the lil reader break out of their mold – why don’t they go write the murderless murder mystery or the crimeless crime novel. Oh or how about a Historical Fiction novel involving no history.

    Lying is lying. You aren’t breaking a mold or doing us a favor. You are lying to us and CHARGING us for the honor. Thanks but no thanks. If you don’t know what a romance is, don’t understand it, approve of it or think we should read it do us all a favor and don’t sell it.

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  174. Alison Kent
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 12:43:30

    [quote comment="19628"]Yes the publisher would be at fault. But it is going to be the authors name on the cover. So you take your chances. It isn’t my problem as the reader to make sure that authors read their contracts.[/quote]

    I haven’t seen a contract that specifies what will be on the spine of a book.

    My contracts specify that I’ll contemporary (& erotic) romance, while my spines have said either contemporary romance or romantic suspense depending on the book I deliver.

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  175. Nora Roberts
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 14:59:06

    I agree with Sybil pretty much down the line. But I’ll back Alison up on the point she made. Authors don’t decide what’s put on the spine of the book–the publisher does. Through marketing and/or editorial, I’d think. Not up to us, or certainly not up to the vast majority of writers.

    Many could claim truthfully, it’s not our fault.

    But, the reader’s not required to worry about that, to know that, even to consider that. The reader’s paid for the book, and should be able to trust that the contents are true to the labeling and marketing of that book. And most readers who find their trust betrayed will be annoyed at the author. Hard to blame them.

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  176. Jackie
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 15:44:08

    But, the reader’s not required to worry about that, to know that, even to consider that. The reader’s paid for the book, and should be able to trust that the contents are true to the labeling and marketing of that book. And most readers who find their trust betrayed will be annoyed at the author. Hard to blame them.

    I think what concerned readers should do is write to the publishers. If the publishers are aware of how upset readers are over mislabeling a story romance when there is no traditional HEA, perhaps publishers will be more thoughtful over what they choose to label as romance.

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  177. Sybil
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 16:04:56

    [quote comment="19653"]I think what concerned readers should do is write to the publishers. If the publishers are aware of how upset readers are over mislabeling a story romance when there is no traditional HEA, perhaps publishers will be more thoughtful over what they choose to label as romance.[/quote]

    Because the concerned reader should do the publishers research and help them know how to market so they can turn around and pay them money for their book?

    This isn’t new. Romance didn’t just pop out of the wood work yesterday. There wasn’t a meeting this morning and a group of us got together and said “HEA? Cool… they should have that!”

    I agree maybe not all authors know this… the ones that don’t write romance… maybe. I am sure that is why you can’t click on a site and not see Ms/Mrs Dean talking about how well her books are doing and how much she lurves her readers and those bitchy amazon people.

    But publisher? I find that way hard to believe. Publishers KNOW the market… they KNOW what will sell. They just don’t seem to care how they go about making their cash. And an author selling to a line what says… it is marketing as romance but gosh don’t worry you don’t have to lower yourself to their silly lil rules… is in my mind agreeing to it.

    They are making the choice to publish and be damned. Before that… okay I can see it isn’t their choice. But like I said, it is their name on the book and ten to one who the reader will ‘blame’. Fair, no but the truth.

    Readers most often vote with their dollar. And no matter who they blame the author will still be screwed. Then again… so is the reader.

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  178. Patrice Michelle
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 16:07:39

    Authors don’t decide what’s put on the spine of the book-the publisher does. Through marketing and/or editorial, I’d think. Not up to us, or certainly not up to the vast majority of writers.

    It wasn’t until I was published that I finally learned this.

    As a reader, I didn’t know. I would’ve assumed the cover art and how the book was marketed (ie…what section of the store it was in) was the author’s choice.

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  179. Sybil
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 16:13:11

    [quote comment="19661"]But publisher? I find that way hard to believe. Publishers KNOW the market… they KNOW what will sell. They just don’t seem to care how they go about making their cash. And an author selling to a line what says… it is marketing as romance but gosh don’t worry you don’t have to lower yourself to their silly lil rules… is in my mind agreeing to it.
    [/quote]

    And no I don’t mean ALL publishers. Nothing is an absolute. And it is never everyone and all that. I just forgot to put in the word SOME.

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  180. Sybil
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 16:34:45

    [quote comment="19662"]It wasn’t until I was published that I finally learned this.

    As a reader, I didn’t know. I would’ve assumed the cover art and how the book was marketed (ie…what section of the store it was in) was the author’s choice.[/quote]

    I never assumed this but I would assume the author knew who they were submitting their work too. Just like anyone else would research the company they are applying too. Wouldn’t you research what the publisher is looking for? What editor is looking for what… the books they have published. The history…

    Or is wrong?

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  181. May
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 16:42:12

    [quote comment="19670"]I never assumed this but I would assume the author knew who they were submitting their work too. Just like anyone else would research the company they are applying too. Wouldn’t you research what the publisher is looking for? What editor is looking for what… the books they have published. The history…

    Or is wrong?[/quote]
    Not entirely. But see, if you submit to a big publisher, you can submit thinking you belong to this imprint/line, and have the editor sign you to another.

    Sort of like, most of the big NY houses have more than one romance line, like Kensington has Zebra and Brava. But each editor isn’t assigned to buy only for Zebra or only for Brava.

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  182. Jackie
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 16:54:32

    I never assumed this but I would assume the author knew who they were submitting their work too. Just like anyone else would research the company they are applying too. Wouldn’t you research what the publisher is looking for? What editor is looking for what- the books they have published. The history-

    Or is wrong?

    Actually, for authors who have agents, the agents do the submissions.

    I’m sticking with my suggestion that if readers are unhappy with the direction publishers are taking, they should let the publishers know — after all, it’s the publishers who stand to benefit from making the readers happy, and they are the ones who can effect change. While the author is the public face, in many cases, the author has little control over how the book is marketed, as it’s been pointed out here already.

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  183. Nonny
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 17:16:12

    Jackie said: While the author is the public face, in many cases, the author has little control over how the book is marketed, as it’s been pointed out here already.

    Yup. I’m put in mind of several authors who had very dark, atmospheric paranormals packaged with cartoony books and blurbs that read like they were light-hearted, humorous stories. People who did buy the books were disappointed because they weren’t what they expected — and some of us who love that sorta story never bought it because of what we thought it was.

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  184. Sybil
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 17:19:43

    [quote comment="19673"]

    I never assumed this but I would assume the author knew who they were submitting their work too. Just like anyone else would research the company they are applying too. Wouldn’t you research what the publisher is looking for? What editor is looking for what- the books they have published. The history-

    Or is wrong?

    Actually, for authors who have agents, the agents do the submissions.

    I’m sticking with my suggestion that if readers are unhappy with the direction publishers are taking, they should let the publishers know — after all, it’s the publishers who stand to benefit from making the readers happy, and they are the ones who can effect change. While the author is the public face, in many cases, the author has little control over how the book is marketed, as it’s been pointed out here already.[/quote]

    Well I guess it is all in the type of person the author is… some will sit back and let it happen to them. Others will market the hell out of themselves to do what they can to make sure the message is put out there what they are or what they are not.

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  185. Jane
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 17:22:17

    Sort of like, most of the big NY houses have more than one romance line, like Kensington has Zebra and Brava. But each editor isn’t assigned to buy only for Zebra or only for Brava.

    BUt these are very sophisticated nuances, in my opinion. It’s quite hard for even the online reader to keep track of these. I see alot of posts about how authors are looking at submissions for different guidelines or querying agents who specialize in certain types of fiction. I think it is totally normal for a reader to believe that it is the author who makes the decision to submit to a certain house, line, agent.

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  186. Jackie
    Jan 12, 2007 @ 17:34:28

    Well I guess it is all in the type of person the author is- some will sit back and let it happen to them. Others will market the hell out of themselves to do what they can to make sure the message is put out there what they are or what they are not.

    Many authors do market themselves — and I don’t mean the words on the spine of a book. At the very least, many have websites, where readers can learn more about the authors, the book(s), maybe even read excerpts. I agree with you: authors SHOULD put the message out there about themselves, in the form of websites and blogs.

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  187. Nora Roberts
    Jan 13, 2007 @ 09:54:04

    I’m a big fan of author websites, and participating to some extent on the net. But there are a lot of readers who aren’t on the net. What’s wrong with them? Anyway, while an author can do quite a bit to market the work, keep readers up to date, etc, by using the internet well, this still won’t reach those other readers. There are, of course, ways to market and inform at least some of those non-net readers. And some of those ways would depend– considerably–on bookstore and publisher support.

    We can’t reach everyone. And the writer with her first book, or first couple, may not have the resources or the clout to broadcast information, and let the potential readership know that while her book’s labeled as this, it’s actually that.

    Still, when it comes down to the nitty, the reader isn’t required to know–or care–about any of that. And blaming the author for this kind of frustration or disappointment is, to me, perfectly natural. Maybe not altogether fair in the big picture, but natural.

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  188. Sybil
    Jan 13, 2007 @ 12:27:51

    [quote comment="19745"]I’m a big fan of author websites, and participating to some extent on the net. But there are a lot of readers who aren’t on the net. What’s wrong with them? Anyway, while an author can do quite a bit to market the work, keep readers up to date, etc, by using the internet well, this still won’t reach those other readers. There are, of course, ways to market and inform at least some of those non-net readers. And some of those ways would depend– considerably–on bookstore and publisher support. [/quote]
    That is pretty much what I mean and I know I am preaching to the choir but what the hell I am at work for another hour or so.

    Newbie author knows she has written the best book evah. She got the call, made the sell and is over the moon only to learn she is being labeled as Romance (I would list out genres but DOES this happen to anyone else other than romance – no because romance is where the money is and if newbie author/publisher wants romance dollars write a fucking romance.).

    oops… where was I? So newbie doesn’t read, write or know anything about Romance. What do she do? Sit back and do nothing hoping it finds its audience? Fine but then don’t bitch and complain about romance readers not reading out of their box. Don’t whine about it being all the publisher and newbie being helpless.

    Now lets say newbie knows she was screwed and isn’t going to just lay back and hope she enjoys it. I am assuming she has already done everything she could as far as agents (if newbie has one) and her publisher.

    I would expect newbie to sit down and research the market and become familiar with it. I would expect newbie author to set up a website or even just a blog – if I could set up a blogger account anyone can :). I would also expect newbie to become familiar enough with the audience she doesn’t speak down to it.

    EVEN without a website or blog or ‘people’ newbie author should be able to google and come away with people they could contact. AAR is the first hit for romance reviews. Publisher Weekly is well know (I would think) to anyone who writes. Dear Author, smart bitches, the romance reader, fresh fiction… they all are easy to find and super easy to contact.

    And we are not horrid bitchy people nor are we stupid. Newbie author would find support. Because as much as there are shit loads of us that read nothing but romance, like Wendy said – romance readers DO cross genres. And we are a hella loyal bunch.

    BUT like you said… not everyone is online. In fact I would say the majority of romance readers are not. I can speak for no one else but myself but there is hardly ever a time I am in a bookstore or book section I don’t speak to someone about books. Sadly I am often mistaken for being an employee because I have a habit of returning books people stick back in the wrong place. Plus, shockingly I am sure, I like to hear those people’s opinions. Really I should work in a bookstore :). That doesn’t even count the booksellers I talk to and I am just one person. I would say countless people online could say the same thing.

    So where you won’t reach everyone… you will reach some and prolly more than you would think.

    And then there are the booksellers… I would venture if an author and agent put their minds to it they could come up with lots of ways to ‘try’ to get the word out.

    In the case of Cameron Dean the author(s?) sat back and did nothing. I don’t respect that nor do I except the excuse of dont’ blame me I am just the author.

    If it is the issue of pissing off the publisher… well why would you want to write another book with a publisher who was setting you up to piss off readers. And if it is the point of trying to cash in on a trend or just wanting to be published and doesn’t care how. Fine… so make that choice and own it.

    Of course that is just my lil romance reader opinion. I could be completely off. And I would guess the people who thought this was a good idea would disagree. But whatever. I say it smells.

    [quote comment="19745"]Still, when it comes down to the nitty, the reader isn’t required to know–or care–about any of that. And blaming the author for this kind of frustration or disappointment is, to me, perfectly natural. Maybe not altogether fair in the big picture, but natural. [/quote]
    Yep… general romance reader who tosses books into her cart as she goes to walmart will be pissed. It isn’t because she is stupid. It isn’t because she doesn’t want to be challenged. It is because she was mislead.

    Or even worse she is on a budget. How great would it be to only be able to buy one or two books a month. You pick out a book with an interesting back blurb AND get to support a new author only to learn it really wasn’t a romance.

    And where that person might not tell everyone who will sit still long enough to listen about it, she isn’t going to think to blame the publisher either. She just won’t buy that author again.

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  189. TeddyPig
    Jan 13, 2007 @ 12:50:42

    If Nora keeps being such a intelligent and thoughtful writer of sensitive and caring comments here on this site I swear I am gonna read her books. She had better written something with a werewolf in it or I’ll … damn it! I’ll be stuck reading something just because she made me like her so much.

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  190. Michelle
    Jan 13, 2007 @ 21:38:42

    Oooh so many good choices if you haven’t yet read a Nora Roberts book. If you like paranormal I would highly recommend her Key Trilogy starts with Key of Light, or her Circle Trilogy with Morrigans Cross.

    I think if books keep being mislabeled readers are going to stop buying new authors and will start borrowing from the library more. Also do you think readers who aren’t connected to the web are more likely to be burned? I know I use various websites and even amazon.com to look at reviews to get a feel of a book by a new author before plunking down the cash.

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  191. Jackie
    Jan 13, 2007 @ 23:07:52

    Still, when it comes down to the nitty, the reader isn’t required to know-or care-about any of that. And blaming the author for this kind of frustration or disappointment is, to me, perfectly natural. Maybe not altogether fair in the big picture, but natural.

    You’re right, Nora.

    And after thinking this over more, I’m amending what I said (wrote?) previously: if an author disappoints readers, I think the readers should let the author know (via Amazon comments, comments on sites like this one, emails/letters to the author, etc.) — and the author would then take that feedback and use it to (hopefully) write a stronger book next time or take a concern to the publisher directly (say, over possible mis-labeling).

    Here’s a question: what else, besides no HEA, is a deal-breaker in romance?

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  192. Ann Wesley Hardin
    Jan 13, 2007 @ 23:15:16

    Infidelity!

    Although I wonder if it would be acceptable to meet the couple after the deed (not before, in a previous book with HEA) and watch them rebuild. What say ya’ll?

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  193. Jane
    Jan 13, 2007 @ 23:23:39

    I don’t know that infidelity is a deal breaker for everyone. (ie, other people bought Promise in a Kiss). Some argue that Rhage’s going off to obtain sexual relief while being emotionally involved with Mary in the JR Ward book whose name (because they are all the same) I can’t remember. It’s happened in recent books (Sylvia Day’s A Stranger I Married had a slightly infidelitous (sp?) scene) and old ones. I read a regency by Laura Matthews, I think, that had the hero going off to bed his mistress because he figured his wife would appreciate it.

    There was the Eloisa James book featuring Helena and . . . her husband getting together after a long separation and many indiscretions by her husband. The last Laura Lee Guhrke also featured an unfaithful husband, frozen out of his bedroom, seeking pleasures elsewhere. I liked neither book as I felt that a) the reasons for infidelity weren’t good enough and b) that the hero never really was “punished” for his infidelity. They both go from the beds of their mistress to the bed of their wife without much trauma.

    It’s not my favorite type of story because it’s hard for me to buy into.

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  194. Kat
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 01:45:21

    Lover Eternal! It was Lover Eternal! *OK, tossing fangirl cap off now*

    I’ve read all the books that Jane just listed. I read Promise in a Kiss not knowing about the future infidelity…and that RUINED my liking for the book after I’d read it.

    I agree that the EJ novel didn’t have enough hero grovelling to make up for the infidelity. The LLG book, I actually enjoyed…until I read Mrs Giggles’ review. I think the ending was just too traumatic all up, and again, not enough grovelling. The JRW book…well, it’s my favourite out of the three in the series so far.

    I’m one of those people who would have said NEVER to infidelity. But having read these three books, I think my stance has softened. It depends on how much infidelity, when, why and how much the hero/heroine sacrifices to make up for their previous indiscretion. However, I will never knowingly pick up a book with infidelity unless I already love (and therefore trust) the author, or I had done extensive online research to determine if I’ll be able to get past it.

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  195. Kat
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 01:49:40

    I meant, I HAVEN’T read all of the books Jane listed. Just three of them.

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  196. Angelle Trieste
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 05:28:12

    [quote comment="19520"]I would like to point out that in Japan, which has a much older literary tradition, what is considered romance are stories of love that end in suicide, Romeo and Juliet style, and there were some traditionalists over there complaining about western publishers like Harlequin trying to infiltrate the market with western style HEAs making many of the exact same arguments here.[/quote]

    Many traditional / old stories also had HEAs. Most people in Japan and Korea these days want to see their favorite soap opera / drama couples to have HEA endings.

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  197. Tara Marie
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 07:49:06

    Infidelity!

    There was the Eloisa James book featuring Helena and . . . her husband getting together after a long separation and many indiscretions by her husband. The last Laura Lee Guhrke also featured an unfaithful husband, frozen out of his bedroom, seeking pleasures elsewhere. I liked neither book as I felt that a) the reasons for infidelity weren’t good enough and b) that the hero never really was “punished" for his infidelity. They both go from the beds of their mistress to the bed of their wife without much trauma.

    I’m okay with infidelity as long as it comes before the “I love you committment”. Sounds weird but it works for me. His Wicked Ways by Eloisa James and The Marriage Bed by Laura Lee Guhrke are two of my favorite books. In both cases misunderstandings and misconceptions drive long seperations. In The Marriage Bed the hero isn’t in “love” and is willing to walk away. In His Wicked Ways the sex is horrible for both of them when they’re first married, neither is experienced in anyway and their relationship falls apart. In both cases the characters needed to mature.

    And yet, in both cases I can understand why readers would expect more grovelling.

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  198. Nora Roberts
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 08:24:33

    I’m not sure newbie author would always been informed regarding the labeling/marketing of her book by the publisher. I haven’t been a newbie for a long time–and I started out in category Romance, so that was pretty clear–so I don’t know for certain. Then again, if newbie IS informed, and her publisher assures her: Oh, romance just means high adventure! Not to worry! She might very well believe that. Her publisher told her so–and she’s new.

    I’m not saying readers need to give writers a break in this area, just that there are a lot of degrees of savvy. And even with a certain about of savvy, more degrees regarding what they can do.

    (Wolf Moon. Werewolf novella in Moon Shadow anthology.)

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  199. Bev (BB)
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 09:18:57

    I was at the grocery store Friday looking over books and caught myself checking the spines of books. Then when I found one I was intrigued by but didn’t recognize the author that was also labeled “paranormal romance” I had this sudden intense urge to start reading the last chapter right there in the store. That’s never happened before. And so it starts . . .

    No joke. Really.

    Also what’s the name of that Jo Beverly book where the heroine has an affair and a child while her husband if off on crusade? It’s on the tip of my tongue but not gettint to my brain this morning. Technically not infidelity within the story but still an intriguing twist that caused an uproar at the time pro and con. Roses something. Something roses. Bah. I need coffee. Real coffee. ;p

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  200. Kristie(J)
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 10:05:35

    Oh goodie – I get to be 200! Unless someone beat me to the punch. As far as infidelity in a romance – if the hero “sees” the devastation of what he has done and atones for it, I can buy it. Although there isn’t much of it in today’s romance, in the past is was more frequent. There was a book by Elizabeth Stuart – can’t remember the title – where the hero cheats on the heroine and then later sees how much he has really hurt her and changes his ways. And I did like that the heroine cut off all the offending ‘other woman’s’ hair. And this is totally off topic I know.

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