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Why I don’t read contemporaries

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We are running a “save the contemporary” campaign (see sidebar for more information) because authors say they are having a hard time selling the big contemporary to agents and agents say its because they can’t sell it to editors and editors say its because the readers aren’t buying them. How do we stop the circle jerk of failure for the contemporaries? What is really holding you back from buying/reading a contemporary?

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

62 Comments

  1. shuzluva
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 15:50:34

    Are we not supposed to extrapolate if there is no chocolate to be had?
    I didn’t think so.

    It’s not so much that the plots don’t interest me. I’ve read plenty of contemporaries that have interesting plots. My problem is there seem to be quite a few plot contrivances out there, maybe even more than some other subgenres. I realize that this may be due to the fact that a contemporary is just that – supposed to take place in the here and now. But the bodyguard scenario is one that I’ve read one to many times. I seem to have come across a lot of those lately.

    I think that my favorite contemporaries focus on the more ordinary aspects of falling in love, rather than honing in on the sports star/actor/superfinancier (oh wait, those may be over).

  2. Jane
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 15:55:21

    @shuzluva – no, I’m just being smart alecky. Not very successfully though.

  3. katiebabs
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 15:56:18

    All the guys are hos in contempt? At least the women are finally getting some and are not ashamed to say so! :D

  4. Ann Bruce
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 16:18:34

    Hey, what about an option for people who do read contemporaries…but not ones with chick-lit elements, slapstick comedy, misunderstood actor heroes who really crave the small town girls, or urban-career-women-are-misguided messages.

  5. Dana
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 16:29:27

    I read and like contemporaries, but I tend to be cautious about who I buy, because I find too many contemporary romances are really chick-lit.

  6. MaryK
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 16:32:57

    For me to buy/read contemporary romance, the author has to be very good at writing character driven plots. I’m not much interested in reading about modern, everyday life unless the characters are interesting and engaging; and I think interesting and engaging characters are difficult to do with no action/suspense/erotic aspect to distract from flaws. Contemps have to pretty much get glowing recommendations for me to consider them.

    I like some Jennifer Crusie, some older Ruth Wind, some older Justine Davis, and then it starts getting hit and miss. The last contemp that I read and loved was See Jane Score. Haven’t read many since then. Nowadays, I’m mostly reading paranormal and urban fantasy. Lots of characters there! ;)

  7. Dev
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 16:33:54

    I read and enjoy contemporaries. What I read is really dependent on my mood ~ but it’ll either be historicals, contemporaries, or westerns.

  8. Lori
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 16:37:14

    I love contemporaries and chick lit (as long as there’s a romantic element in it). And since paranormal is very hit and miss for me, I’m always looking for the next Welcome to Temptation. (I also love chocolate so put the two together and…oops, gone off on a tangent there, sorry.)

  9. Karen
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 16:47:36

    I really like contemporaries, and I would read an equal number of contemporaries and historicals if I could. Unfortunately, I can’t find enough contemporaries that suit my tastes. I like contemporaries that focus on the hero and heroine and their relationship, and are more on the emotional and serious side. The contemporary version of Mary Balogh, if that makes sense. And there just aren’t that many out there. (And if you don’t like kids and babies in your books, your options are even more limited, especially when it comes to series books.)

    When I am in airports or waiting rooms, I often see readers reading these kinds of books, but they’re older books – LaVyrle Spencer, older Nora Roberts books, etc. I don’t know why there aren’t more new ones being published, because it seems like there is an audience for them.

  10. sara
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 17:02:31

    I used to eschew contemporaries in favor of historicals because I felt that too many of the contemporaries that I was finding were very unrealistic, out of touch, more difficult to suspend disbelief because our BS meters are more sensitive when talking about our “real” world. We know we don’t run into billionaires/CEOs/movie stars/sports legends every day so I can’t read a romance that hinges on those characters without getting annoyed. I liked historicals because I could suspend a certain amount of disbelief and get lost in the characters falling in love.

    Strangely, now I feel the balance tilting in the opposite direction (for me). Now historicals are getting more and more outlandish — spies, every hero a duke or an earl, every man the rakiest rake in Regency England and the biggest catch on the Marriage Mart, every female more beautiful and plucky than the last — and I’m getting sick of them. Now I’ve discovered a bunch of contemporaries that deal with real people in real situations and tell their romances in funny, compelling ways, and I’m hooked.

    Funny how that happened.

  11. BevQB
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 17:06:16

    It’s all about the escapism for me. If I pick up a contemporary, then I’m expecting it to follow real world rules. So, I tend to nit-pick and roll my eyes at a lot of them because, let’s face it, for most of us, the real world doesn’t include intrigue and a Navy Seal/Ranger/Special Ops/MI5 soldier to protect us from danger. Nor do most of us meet men with a gazillion dollars who fly us to Tuscany for dinner.

    Now I know someone is thinking, “Well, DUH, Bev, that’s where the escapism comes in” but for some reason, I can’t get past the real world aspect of those stories and escape into them the way I can with a PNR, UF, or historical.

    Oddly enough, I DO read m/m contemporaries because they tend to mirror real life STRAIGHT relationships more than a lot of straight contemporaries I’ve read. The partners tend to be friends with each other and joke around with each other more– not like in a wacky romantic comedy kind of way, but just in the way people do in real life.

  12. Karen Scott
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 17:07:30

    I love contemporaries, I just wish there were more of them around!

  13. Elly Soar
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 17:21:15

    I love contemporaries, but it seems like all the single title contempories are only trying to be doing the latest trendy thing: be it featuring serial killers, mildly paranormal, or multiple books featuring the same characters… It’s hard to find a good, straight contemporary single title.

  14. theo
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 17:28:19

    Too often I’ve picked up a contemporary ‘romance’ only to find it’s actually chick-lit in disguise. I’m not a big fan of chick-lit. In fact, I rate it in the same vein as UF…on a scale of one to ten, it might be a two if I absolutely cannot find anything else to read.

    I understand of course that not everyone feels that way and that’s a good thing because it demands a wonderful amount of choices from todays authors.

    I do have to say that, after reading your review and the SBTB review for Flat Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy, I’d pick that one up. But even there, I am involved with NASCAR in RL (hubby works for a team owner) so I would end up probably picking on areas in that as well. *sigh*

  15. readerdiane
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 17:48:01

    Now if you are talking about Susan Elizabeth Phillips, I will buy hers without looking at the back because I know I will love it. Can we have more like hers?
    I go back and re-read them. I read all kinds of books but I need a break from blood & gore now & then.

  16. Kat
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 17:59:44

    I would love to read a Kinsale contemporary. I have much higher expectations of realism in contemporaries, so it’s riskier to pick one up. There’s also a problem with frames of reference. Unlike historicals, I tend to frame contemporaries according to my own world view and the author has to work hard/write well to get me to understand characters who don’t have the same world view. Not impossible, but also not something that authors necessarily do. (In short, I sometimes find characterisations that use stereotypes as short-cuts–stereotypes that don’t apply to me and which prevent me from empathising with the characters.) Even Crusie novels, which are usually very well crafted, I find to be hit and miss because the main characters do things that I find somewhat ridiculous. Having said that, if the general tone of the novel tells me it’s supposed to be farcical, I have a greater tolerance for the absurd. But it’s often a fine line.

  17. Courtney Milan
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 18:13:44

    I read and love some contemporaries, but I am generally wary of them. My problem is that for whatever reason, weak and annoying women in contemporaries drive me nuts. There are contemporaries that are very good in this regard (Jenny Crusie, to name one big shining example). But things I’ll forgive in historicals b/c women just didn’t have as much choice then as now, will make me slap down a contemporary and scream.

    I’m just not as forgiving of the heroines.

  18. Moth
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 18:26:53

    I didn’t read too many contemps until I fell hard for all the Crusies. But even Crusie has her problems. (I always seems to dislike her sister/BFF characters and I couldn’t get thru Tell Me Lies)

    My problems with contemps:

    The Virgin heroines- in historicals it makes sense, in contemps it just feels like a stupid, outdated bias that if the heroine has had/enjoyed sex she must be a ho. Same deal for heroines who have had sex but never orgasmed. Wtf? Why does a modern woman have to a thirty-five year old virgin to be worthy of love?

    The humor- so, so often it feels like its at the expense of the heroine. The ones I’ve read a lot of the time she acts like a total idiot and its usually in service to some elaborate set-up for a joke. She bungles things. She makes stupid assumptions. She’s TSTL. Not cool.

    The familys- a lot of the ones I’ve read feature icy, disapproving mothers for the heroine and more often than not clingy, immature younger sisters. A lot of the time the heroine’s big conflict is that she’s the doormat for her family and can’t say no. She hasn’t got the balls to break free until the books almost over.

    So far the only contemp authors I’ve really enjoyed are Crusie and Kristin Hardy (and I’ve only read two Hardys).

    I think since these books are set in the “real world” I’m less willing to suspend my disbelief and go with it. I can put myself much more easily into the contemp heroine’s situation and a lot of the time I’m thinking “You’re an idiot. I would never do that! Why are you doing that?!”

    Also, the plots feel a little stale. What I like about Crusie’s are the heightened stakes, the interesting jobs. She has real conflicts, not manufactued Big Misunderstandings. I think Hardy hooks me in with her character’s jobs. They’re not just there to be complained about. Her characters usually have passion for what they do. And concerns about their careers are legitimate and believeable.

  19. Kimber An
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 18:27:07

    I voted ‘the plots don’t interest me,’ so where’s my chocolate? Actually, I do read a handful of contemporaries. I love a good story wherever I can find it. However, my favorites are stories which take me Far and Away. Besides, it’s rare for a Contemporary not to have recycled plots, cookie cutter characters, and Sex By The Numbers. My favorite contemporary authors are Karen Templeton and Gwyneth Bolton. These ladies never disappoint.

  20. Shanna
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 18:32:53

    None of the choices above really fits me or maybe it’s a combination of them. I will read contemporaries of authors I know and like. For those I don’t know, a great spunky looking cover will usually grab my attention (for example Kristan Higgins covers totally sucked me in). Then when I pick it up, the plot has to interest me. I especially love when a story is centered around a place that fascinates me. Lately I’ve been reading what I call redneck romance a la’ LuAnne Maclaine and Dixie Cash. I would consider their books to be comtemporary.

    I’m definitely ready for more contemporary romance to alleviate the paranormal fatigue. BTW sometimes I find great books I would consider contemporary romance in the mystery section.

  21. jessica
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 18:39:08

    I read 95% contemporaries (in romance). But I hate movies stars, billionaires, etc. I want real people with real jobs who have real issues, fall in love despite themselves, and still have real issues. In Holquist’s Sexiest Man Alive the heroine was still a virgin! Living in NYC! Her reason – shyness due to adolescent embarrassment. If I let a little teenage embarrassment get me down I would never have sex again. The escapism is the falling in love. I’ve been married forever and that’s the part I enjoy, because let’s face it long term love is not the butterflies and roses of starting out. Plus (I hope) most of us don’t have too many obstacles to relationships and you like to see the H/H work their way out of these binds.

  22. Anne Douglas
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 19:00:00

    I hope people still want to read them (I do!), or else I’m screwed since they are what I like to write (albeit I have an extra hero tagged on).

    Military backgrounds and billionaires are nice, but I do like plain old boy next door meets girl next door. I like the idea of getting to see the happy ending amongst the daily dreck of everyday life.

  23. MaryK
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 19:00:46

    I think since these books are set in the “real world” I'm less willing to suspend my disbelief and go with it. I can put myself much more easily into the contemp heroine's situation and a lot of the time I'm thinking “You're an idiot. I would never do that! Why are you doing that?!”

    Totally!!

  24. RfP
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 19:48:04

    Ditto Ann Bruce:

    Hey, what about an option for people who do read contemporaries…but not ones with chick-lit elements, slapstick comedy, misunderstood actor heroes who really crave the small town girls, or urban-career-women-are-misguided messages.

    And Moth:

    The humor- so, so often it feels like its at the expense of the heroine. The ones I've read a lot of the time she acts like a total idiot and its usually in service to some elaborate set-up for a joke. She bungles things. She makes stupid assumptions. She's TSTL. Not cool.

    That last is my problem with a lot of chick lit, too. Whether it’s first- or third-person, I’m fed up with so-called humor that’s primarily about the heroine being incompetent–at love, life, job, everything.

  25. Lorelie
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 20:42:48

    I’m with Ann Bruce. I’ll happily read ‘em if someone else will weed through for me to eliminate all those. But I voted anti-slapstick ’cause that’s my biggest dislike.

  26. Lleeo
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 21:58:02

    Haha, I feel kind of guilty commenting here because I haven’t replied to all the comments I meant to in the past couple weeks. I blame university.

    But to answer your question, I read more contemporary and romantic suspense than any other sub-genre in the romance genre and have since I was 12. At first it was because that was what my mom had in her collection but theoretically, the plot lines and setting shouldn’t work for me. I love dark, intense drama, reading about different places and cultures, and sci-fi, but… once you get hooked on a good writer, what can you do?

    I never thought I would want to constantly read about the stereotypical romance hero archetypes: Navy SEALs and football players but because of Suzanne Brockmann and Susan Elizabeth Phillips, I can’t get enough of them.

    I think what readers in general usually discover is that if they are adventurous in their reading, they will find themselves reading from genres and sub-genres that they once thought they hated. And loving plot elements that they once thought were over-used or tacky. A good writer can convince you to read and enjoy almost anything (within the bounds of your own moral scruples). Which I think is so cool.

    Oh, and if Gennita Low is reading this, you made me fall in love with a grumpy, old, bureaucratic workaholic and I expected myself to hate him. It was your second book and I am blanking on the name of the book but his name was Rick Harden, I believe.

    Please write about more grumpy old bureaucratic men, Gennita. They take on so much appeal when you write them. :D

  27. Monique
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 11:50:07

    I don’t read contemporaries because of two things. First, too many of them are chick-lit which I despise with a capital D. Second, if they aren’t chick-lit, they are too fluffy. I prefer the older contemps to anything new today. I used to be a big fan of Linda Howard (yes, I like seriously alpha males) and Jayne Ann Krentz (Silver Linings comes to mind) Judith McNaught, and Sandra Brown.

  28. veinglory
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 11:51:45

    I don’t deliberately read or not read them–I’ll read any subgenre if the book appeals to me.

  29. Susan/DC
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 13:43:22

    I think since these books are set in the “real world” I'm less willing to suspend my disbelief and go with it. I can put myself much more easily into the contemp heroine's situation and a lot of the time I'm thinking “You're an idiot. I would never do that! Why are you doing that?!”

    As Moth said, and Mary K seconded, my biggest problem with contemporaries is that I find myself pulled out of the story when the heroine (and sometimes the hero) does something I find totally inexplicable. Escapism can mean reading about people who are different from me, but I still need to be able to identify to the extent that I can say “she’s not me, and I would react differently, but if I were that person in that situation I can understand why she did that.”

    Another problem is that I know too much about today’s world. For example, I work in finance, so when a supposed financial genius gazillionaire does something that I know is totally wrong or inappropriate, I’m again pulled out of the story. Or when reading about modern royalty from made-up countries, all I can think about is Charles and Diana’s fairy tale wedding and its crash-and-burn divorce several years later.

    There’s also the problem of some of the attitudes some contemporaries embody, such as “big city bad, small town good”. These attitudes may be found in historicals as well, but for whatever reason, I don’t find them quite so obnoxious. I can understand preferring the clean air of the countryside to the noxious air of a London winter in 1871, but I dislike the notion in too many contemps that neighborliness and a sense of home are found only in towns of less than 20,000.

    OTOH, I don’t generally dismiss any genre as a whole because I’ve liked all kinds of books (true crime may be the one exception). I adore Crusie (who sets all her books in relatively small towns but doesn’t demonize the big city) and SEP, Linda Howard, Karen Templeton, and other contemporary authors’ books reside on my DIK shelves. I’ve read and liked some chick lit. As others have noted, it depends on the author’s skill, and in that it’s the same as every other kind of book.

  30. Kristi
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 14:25:11

    I’ve read quite a few contemporaries this year, as part of my “research” related to attempting to write one of my own :) I think some of the problem is age-related. Some of the contemporaries I’ve read recently had heroines who didn’t really act their age–they read like my mother, not like me (I’m 31, married, 2 kids..I expect to feel a little old compared to these swinging singles, and sometimes I just don’t).

    I also think that in some cases, the plots are constrained by the “traditional rules” of romance. You know, where the heroine is either a virgin or never had an orgasm before (and yet they’re all 28?), or where once she meets the hero, there are no other men in her life. Um, right. Like that’s contemporary. Again, makes the characters sound like they’re from another era.

    Many authors resort to bigger-than-life characters in order to force escapism and conflict. But after a while, I don’t want to read about millionaires, pro hockey players, and NASCAR champions. I want real people, with real conflicts. But real, modern conflicts (like having another relationship, ex’s, children, careers, etc) don’t fit into the traditional “rules”.

    Some of the books I’ve really enjoyed haven’t been shelved under romance at all–they’re called “chick lit” (i.e. Emily Griffin) or “general fiction with a love story” (Nicholas Sparks).

    The other thing I’ve noticed is that the “better” contemporary romance I’ve read aren’t strictly “contemporary”. They’re “romantic suspense” or “paranormal” or “young adult” or some other subgenre. Those other subgenres don’t have to have as much realistic modern romantic conflict built-in, because they have other outside conflicts (murderers and vampires and such) to beef up the plot. And they’re pulling readers from the old-fogey contemporary section into situations with edgier characters that feel younger.

  31. AndreaS
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 15:08:37

    I like contemporaries. I really do. And sometimes I read chick lit. It’s nice to be able to submerge myself in my world… only with happy endings. But because it’s hasn’t really been mentioned yet…

    My least favorite thing about the contemporary drama is the need for the Big Misunderstanding. And how often it feels completely stupid and you can see the plot device coming from miles away. The heroine/hero decides to keep something important to themselves or not tell their partner for no logical reason. One of the characters is in a compromising position, and instead of letting anyone explain or someone thinking that maybe it’s not what it seems, the other just flies off the handle. That’s not love.
    I guess what I’m saying is that often “end of the world” storylines have that as the conflict so they don’t need to create more. And sometimes that’s nice.

    Side note: As I was pondering this, the thought popped into my head that I’m describing the Big Misunderstanding scene from “Bet Me”. But there are good reasons why this works for me. It’s because Crusie understood the logic behind big misunderstandings and properly motivated that characters into that corner. It didn’t come from nowhere. It was action and motivation the entire book in the making.

    And now I’m done.

  32. Jamaica Layne
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 16:01:16

    I don’t buy the “agents don’t want contemporaries because editors don’t want them because nobody’s buying them” malarkey at all. To wit, I have a brand-new contemporary out in stores now (MARKET FOR LOVE, released last week from Virgin) and I just went under contract to write five more comtemporaries over the next year, and these, mind you, were all agented sales. SO the genre is still alive, well, and sellable, and agent-able—-though I do agree it’s gotten a lot more competitive out there. I do think you need a hook of some kind, though. Erotic contemporaries are doing very well, and the five books I just got under contract are for a series of books that all take place in the same small-town hospital; each book has a different hero/heroine, though all the different characters make cameos in each book.

  33. willaful
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 16:04:46

    I went with slapstick because I do really hate those, but the problem I have with most contemporaries is they just don’t have much *oomph*. Excitement, intensity, emotion. (I’m excepting categories, which do usually have that, but don’t often have a lot of realism, plausibility, intelligence and other good stuff.)

    I really enjoy a good contemporary, I’ll even read a blah-ish one when I’m in the mood, but it takes a lot to really please and excite me. Even the authors I like tremendously like SEP let me down in some areas (a little too sentimental and tends to repetition of themes/plots. But nobody’s perfect.)

  34. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 16:13:20

    I only seem to enjoy contemps by people I know (lucky me, that includes Erin!). I think it may be that when a book has a setting I know and identify with (one that is REAL), I really do have to like the characters. I have to think, yeah, I’d want to go drinking with her. Not WTF is she thinking/doing. It seems more vital that the heroine be someone I can identify with, someone whose choices I understand and respect.

  35. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 16:23:41

    Ok, reading through the comments I’m really struck by how many people mention my other contemp pet peeve: big city = bad; small town = good. Bight a city girl, this always irks the crap out of me.

  36. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 16:24:53

    “bight? wtf is that? Stupid typo (edity tool won’t work!). “Being”.

  37. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 16:25:21

    eidty? *head desk* I give up.

  38. Jamaica Layne
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 16:26:03

    Well, my current contemp takes place in a big city (in the financial industry, no less). And the series of five books I’m writing take place mostly in a small town but have some scenes in surrounding larger cities. I don’t think the small-town=good/big-city=bad is a hard-and-fast rule at all. (though it is if you’re Debbie Macomber).

  39. SonomaLass
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 16:30:38

    I like second-chance romances, and/or romances with older and wiser heroines. Often that includes moms. Contemporaries can be the most comfortable in that regard, because historical attitudes towards those women are not kind. (Although when an author makes a heroine like that work in a historical setting, I love it!)

    I do find a problem with same-ish plots, though, particularly when it comes to the obstacles keeping the h/h apart. I’ve learned to read contemporary romance once in a while, interspersed with other genres. That gives me variety.

    I have to say that this site and the Smart Bitches have introduced me to some wonderful contemporary romances that I’m not sure I would have found otherwise!

  40. Jane
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 17:02:33

    @Kalen Hughes:

    This is a big irritant to me too, Kalen. I’m not sure what is so magical about the small town. I’ve got some ideas about a post on that issue.

  41. Jamaica Layne
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 17:05:27

    one of my favorite contemporary authors is Katie McAlister. (though all her contemps have some kind of bizarre twist, like they’re on the set of a historical period reality program, or a weird sheep farm in Scotland, etc). I also like Beth Ciotta.

  42. Jane
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 17:06:26

    @JamaicaLayne – I know that you are excited about your agented sales but I believe that many of those are to a new and unproven epress called Ravenous Romance. This post is not about erotic contemporary romances which I find to be a whole different genre and not one that has the same audience as a straight contemporary. The only author I’ve seen really break through writing erotic romance into the “mainstream” is Lora Leigh.

  43. Lori
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 17:12:47

    Why does everyone hate chick-lit so much?

  44. Jamaica Layne
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 17:15:43

    That “new and unproven epress” is doing quite well, with press coverage in national mags (a spread in both this month and next month’s RT, among others) and is already selling print rights to its books to major print houses, and has also very recently signed a million-selling horror author who always wanted to write erotica, but that’s neither here nor there. :)

    I consider erotic contemps part of contemps, and also as evidence that the contemp subgenre is continually evolving.

  45. Jamaica Layne
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 17:16:59

    I don’t hate chick lit. I love it, and write it myself.

  46. MoJo
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 17:17:04

    I guess I never noticed the small town=good/big city=bad, but from what few tastes of small towns I’ve had, I’m not sure I care for it much. I live in a big city that I absolutely adore, so I set mine in it.

  47. theo
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 17:17:15

    Kalen, I’m not making fun of you. I’m not! But your bight and edity gave me the best laugh I’ve had today!

    Thank you. :)

  48. Jane
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 17:24:35

    @Jamaica Layne – I actually find it very “here and there” because I think that your posts tend to give false hope. Ravenous Romance has not made 1 sale and therefore it is both NEW and UNPROVEN. I could care a less how many horror authors who have always wanted to write erotica the press signs up because erotica is an entirely different animal than erotic romance and while I get plenty of Black Lace books for review, I rarely finish them because they don’t appeal to me and generally, I don’t think appeal to a broad swath of romance readers. I haven’t ever seen a Black Lace book on a bestseller list. Can you name one in the last two years?

    Further, erotic romance is not considered to be the same as contemporary romance in mainstream publishing. It is often, if not always, published under a different line and many times marketed differently.

  49. MsThing
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 19:11:50

    I came across your blog because I googled for more info on the PRS 700 (hoping Santa will bring me one this year) and thought I’d add my 2 cents to the conversation…

    First I am a writer, I get published (and paid) and I’ve often thought of breaking out of my genre and attempting a romance. Inevitably I buy a swathe of current romance novels attempt to read them and then put them down and go back to writing the genre that I’m used to.

    I’ve thought a lot about what makes a romance good or bad and what puts me off the most is just the insane lack of IQ attributed to most of the heroines in the selection I’ve picked up. I don’t think it’s possible to live life as hard and as fast as most women do these days and then pick up a book where a woman pines for a guy because he has money or a title or big ! It makes no sense, it’s hard to suspend disbelief.

    Secondly, modern women aren’t cosseted like they used to be. We drink, swear, wear what we want and fall into bed with who we want – when we want to these days. Things that society used to find salacious and taboo is the stuff of your garden variety music video.

    Third, I have a man who I regularly jump and so rather than take out any frustration with a romance I’m more apt to pick up a non-fiction title at bed time…

    As for erotica, I wish it paid more… I wouldn’t write it under my regular pen name which means I’d be starting from scratch, I agree with Jane when she says it’s an entirely different beast – it certainly is.

  50. Jane
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 19:16:17

    @MsThing – I’m thinking of getting the PRS700 for my husband. He uses the iPhone right now, but I’m thinking, since he only reads in bed, that this might be something he would enjoy. But then I would have to convert all his books over and that might be tiresome.

  51. Moth
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 19:20:43

    Why does everyone hate chick-lit so much?

    Well, Lori, for me Chick Lit has a lot of the stuff I hate. The heroine bungling around messing up for comic effect (Alisa Kwitney is a big offender in this regard to me). I also hate it when I think I’m reading a romance novel and then find its actually more chick lit. For me, when I’m reading that sort of book its about the romance, NOT the heroine’s journey. Just my 2 cents.

  52. Moth
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 19:22:27

    “My least favorite thing about the contemporary drama is the need for the Big Misunderstanding. And how often it feels completely stupid and you can see the plot device coming from miles away.”

    One of my favorite things Crusie does is when she’ll set something up like its going to be a Big Mis and then the other person is totally OK with it. Like Strange Bedpersons where Nick settles things with Tess’ landlord and basically spends the whole day fixing things for her. I was totally expecting the typical Romance hissy about him “handling” her or whatever and instead she kissed and thanked him like most sane women would when a man goes out of his way to help her. That was my first Crusie, and I think that was really the moment I fell hard for her.

    I think contemp authors need to be more like Crusie. She breaks rules and is not afraid to write outside the common tropes. I don’t think she has a single virgin, non-orgasm heroine in the bunch. Maybe to revive this subgenre publishers need to be more willing to let writers write outside the common borders- especially since all the people who would be reading contemps (like all of us here) aren’t because we’re so sick of the cliched elements being beaten to death.

    Oh, and, Sonoma Lass is right. I never would have discovered Crusie were it not for this site and SBTB. Yay for these sites! :D

  53. MsThing
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 19:31:38

    @Jane He reads books on his iphone? lol that’s cool I use mine for the news. I’ve read ebooks on my Macbook but my eyes hurt after awhile. RE writing for ebook sites… the industry is still in it’s infancy $3.5 million pa, pundits say it won’t crack real money for authors, publishers etc till 2012 the new reading devices will help sales but not authors. Ebook sites currently charge for distribution and DRM copyright is subject to copyright itself and it’s not free…

  54. Jane
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 19:36:04

    @MsThing – not to get off topic, but I am a big lover of ebooks and have owned, at one time, the Sony PRS500 as well as other ebook reading devices.

    I think that there is money to be made in niches for ebook authors. We’ve seen it within the romance industry. Ellora’s Cave, for example, reported 6.5 million in sales in 2006. I’ve heard that the average EC author makes 5 figures, even if it is in the low five figures. So it can be done, but I think that until ebook readers are easily adopted and the DRM issue is fixed, the mainstream publishing won’t make huge inroads into ebook profits.

  55. willaful
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 19:43:45

    “Third, I have a man who I regularly jump and so rather than take out any frustration with a romance I'm more apt to pick up a non-fiction title at bed time…”

    Oooo, you really opened up a can of worms there, Ms. Thing. ;-) Many of us have men whom we regularly jump and we still like romance just as much. I think I jump more, actually.

    Re: chicklit – I think romance readers tend to seem to badmouth it because there’s a fair bit of confusion with “our” genre, and we get a little testy when the two get muddled together by people who don’t know. I like chicklit okay, but really would rather read romance and don’t like getting one when I’m expecting the other.

  56. Gennita Low
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 21:13:29

    Off-topic:

    Lleeo at #26 said:

    Oh, and if Gennita Low is reading this, you made me fall in love with a grumpy, old, bureaucratic workaholic and I expected myself to hate him. It was your second book and I am blanking on the name of the book but his name was Rick Harden, I believe.

    Please write about more grumpy old bureaucratic men, Gennita. They take on so much appeal when you write them. :D

    Just want to thank you, Lleeo, for that. You made me laugh at your description of my Rick being grumpy and old. LOL. I’m glad you enjoyed his story. I’ll have to find more grumpy heros to write about ;-).

  57. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 21:39:14

    it won't crack real money for authors, publishers etc till 2012 the new reading devices will help sales but not authors.

    A little off-topic…I can’t speak for other authors, but depending on who the e-pubbed author writes for, ebooks can be pretty profitable for the author. I was only pubbed in ebooks when I quit my nursing job in 2004 to write full-time.

    I’ve branched out since then and I don’t write as many ebooks as I used to, but I still see decent money from them.

    I agree that ebooks are still in their infancy and it’s going to take more time for them to get more established, but there’s definitely decent money to be made in the ebook industry.

  58. Deb Kinnard
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 08:58:32

    I still read contemps, I’m just pickier than I used to be. Aging? Nah, not me (G).

    I will not buy anything with a cute baby on the cover. The “oh, by the way, this is your son/daughter” plot device has been done to death–can we please schedule the funeral sometime soon?

    Ditto tycoons. Yeah, these are escape literature, but come ON. I read one of these series books once and I thought the tycoon was boring.

    I will read SEP–she’s an auto-buy though she misses pure perfection once in a while, I can forgive. Lisa Wingate because her heroines do fall into mis-steps but are not stupid. I loved Eileen Wilks before she went into this paranormal phase. Linda Windsor for rom/com cannot be beaten. Allie Pleiter ditto. If you’re not familiar with these last couple authors, go get yourself a title & see if you don’t think they surpass many another for quality.

    NOW can I have some chocolate?

  59. MCHalliday
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 12:54:09

    Fresh characters, plot and conflict(s) seem lacking in many contemps but I suspect it’s due to publisher guidelines in many cases. For example, some imprints still desire plots about secret babies or stalking with powerful tycoons/harsh alphas tamed by the heroine. Worse, they must follow formula: girl meets boy, add misunderstanding/secret, find resolution (contrived is acceptable to meet word count). For these reasons, I tend to read chick lit, single title mystery and fantasy with romance or series in these genres with evolving romance, mainstream fiction by and about women and relationships.

  60. Ann Bruce
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 13:32:11

    Why does everyone hate chick-lit so much?

    TSTL heroines who cannot manage their professional or private lives (but, of course, their ineptitude is so cute and endearing that the heroes fall in love with them anyway), the inexplicable and materialistic obsession with brand names (sometimes to the point where they’ll forgo paying their mortgage in order to be trendy), the lack of backbone so they usually allow family or friends to run their lives, and so many other annoying things…

  61. veinglory
    Oct 23, 2008 @ 13:07:29

    About half the chick lit I read was about the kind of girl that made my life miserable in high school. I am glad to be away from them in real life and avoid them in fiction. So that is why I don’t seek out chick lit althought I do read around the margins of the genre and certain less-traditional examples.

  62. Lleeo
    Oct 24, 2008 @ 20:31:47

    Just want to thank you, Lleeo, for that. You made me laugh at your description of my Rick being grumpy and old. LOL. I'm glad you enjoyed his story. I'll have to find more grumpy heros to write about ;-).

    You’re welcome, Gennita. :D And thank you for writing such a great character and book. It’s so cool that I actually get the opportunity to talk to some of my favourite authors on this site! ^_^ And sorry that I called Rick old, I think it was just that at the beginning, he seemed like such a serious and stuffy bureaucrat that he seemed older. And he was serious and grumpy for good reason! ;) I also adored Nikki. She and Rick just connected on such a deep level. I loved it!

    It’s one of my favourite romance books. ^_~

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