I feel a need to go shopping with Elisa Rolle, who blogs at Rosa is for Romance, and who is blogging at the Wet Noodle Posse blog today about how difficult it is for her to shop for the romance in Italy. Key quote:
“We” are still embarrassed to admit that “we” read romance. There is still the fear to be labelled as Z-level reader, with a little brain and a head full of impossible dreams. Worse, like a pervert who likes to read about rapes and obscenity. When I go to buy a romance on the corner shops, I always try to go to a shop owned by a sweet lady who doesn’t comment on my choice. If I see a shop owned by a man, I hardly stop to buy my books, cause I already know that he will look down to me for my choice of reading.
I am so spoiled by my many choices of places at which to shop for my books. Thanks to Esri Rose for the link.
Are you befuddled by the way payment and income in the publishing world work? Jeaniene Frost breaks it down bit by bit and explains the whole process, debunking the “everyone is rolling in dough” myth as well as the “you’ll never make a dime” myth as well. Thanks to Shae for the link.
From the “Get to the point already please?” department, MadMiss forwarded me a link to a recent article in The Times Online (UK) that wonders “why efforts to take romance out of its ghetto haven’t worked.”
You can hear the creaking of my jaw as it drops open at the opening paragraph:
Publishers are often seen as venal; desperate for sales, indifferent to art, puffing their fiction lists with substandard titles of proven mass appeal. And yet, it is not easy to sell books. A willingness to peddle repetitive rubbish isn’t enough; our vain, trash-loving, elitist souls also want to be fed; we need to feel that we are discerning readers. So the publishers must delicately exploit the middle ground between high and low.
Oh, for headdesk’s sake. The writer, one Lidija Haas, writes, “the essential story remains that of a plucky young woman, poor, or at least a misfit in some way, who struggles to make her way in the world, facing loneliness and adversity, before at last being rewarded with a conventional happy ending: successful love, and perhaps babies.” And thus I suspect Ms. Haas wouldn’t know a romance novel if she tripped over one and banged her own head on her own desk so as to empathize with mine. With such marvelously sweeping statements as “happy endings are now risky” and valuing them is a form of myopia, and “one thing holding popular romance back may be that it is aimed so explicitly at women” Haas’ article reviews five novels from Short Books, a UK publishing house that is better known for non-fiction.
It’s always nice to know that there remains a market for reviews of romance that treat the genre seriously and don’t try to lament its position in the greater scale of taste or sneer at it while doggedly trying to hold the genre to the same standards of other works of fiction. The books Haas profiles take place in some very neat locations, certainly ones that are rare for romance, such as early twentieth-century China and 1000ad Iceland (yet another clue that Haas isn’t too familiar with the actual genre).
What struck MadMiss and me as well was the sort of “Get to the point, please?” element of the article. MadMiss said, “Do they want a more broadly appealing romance novel? Do they want to turn romances into open ended novels..??? Do they place anything that has a compelling story and protaganists out of the norm [combined with a] Happy Ending in genres other than Romance?” Good questions. I have one more: anyone read these books? Are they in fact romances?