Has anyone ever given you a hard time for reading romance novels? Imagine being a writer of romance. For some reason, the romance genre tends to get a bad rap.
Romance novels are a 1.08 billion dollar a year industry. You would think a number like that would warrant some respect…however, that’s not normally the case.
As a romance author I have encountered ‘the look’. You know the one. Someone finds out you are a writer and then asks, “What kind of books do you write?” When I reply “romance” the usual response is “oh” followed by the look of disdain which translates to ‘oh, you aren’t a real writer’.
I choose to write about something that everyone encounters in their life…falling in love. It’s a complex emotion that isn’t necessarily easy to convert to ink on a page. It’s a talent to find the words that can make a reader’s heart skip a beat, much like it does when they see the one they love.
Don’t get me wrong, with a billion dollars in sales annually, there are clearly many romance fans in the world. I’m afraid that some have been made to feel they have to hide their love of romance novels away, like a ‘guilty pleasure’. If reading a certain genre of book makes a person happy, then why should anyone belittle them for that?
What many people don’t understand is that there are infinite types of romance novels. As with any genre, there will be books of varied quality. There are the romance novels at the grocery store with ‘Fabio like’ men on the covers. Probably the kind your mother used to buy when you were a kid. What’s wrong with that? They probably gave Mom that little escape from reality for a bit that she desperately needed. There are well known romance authors, like Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steele, and Nora Roberts, to name a few. Although each is a very successful author, we can still receive ‘the look’ if we say we read their books. And there are the self-published authors of romance novels. The writers who have a dream and are trying fiercely to make that dream come true on their own. They try feverishly to connect with the readers whose lives they can impact.
Sure, not every romance novel you encounter on Amazon is necessarily well-written. But the same can be said for every genre. If non-writers had any idea how hard it is to write a novel, I’m sure they’d be less judgmental. However, even writers of other, so-called more respectable genres, can be romance writers worst critics. Writers, rookies or veterans, should be supportive and respectful of fellow wordsmiths of all genres.
Will romance novels and writers ever receive the respect they deserve? I truly hope so. What can you do to help with that change? When someone asks you what you are reading…reply proudly that it’s a romance novel. If someone tells you they are a romance writer…reply genuinely that you admire them for writing a book. And support that friend or family member who is self-publishing their romance novels. Purchase their books and leave reviews. Do your part to not only support them, but to change the stigma that comes with romance novels.
I’d love to hear from writers of other genres. Do you encounter similar prejudices?