Romance Survival 101: Ignoring the Hate When You’re All About the Love

Being a lover of the romance genre doesn’t come without it’s pitfalls. Unfortunately, I happen to be an author and a reader of romance, so I end up getting whammied from both sides.

haters-gonna-hate-animated-gif

I can’t speak for everyone, in fact, I can truly only speak for myself. But I am tired of the romance genre getting such a bad misrepresentation.

As an author, I’m really tired of hearing these things:

“You’re so talented. Why don’t you write a real book?”

“Oh, so you write mommy porn?”

“Romance novels are trashy and unrealistic.”

“Those covers are so tacky.”

“Do you really have to put sex in your books? Sex isn’t a spectator sport.”

Them:giphy

 

Me:tenor

Oh, my darlings, the list goes on and on and on. And frankly, I’m exhausted trying to defend my genre. I should not have to defend my passion for writing or enjoying a good, strong love story.

As readers, neither should you. It’s time we take our genre back.

The genre of romance is defined by only two criteria. (This information is taken directly from the Romance Writer’s of America’s website.)

  1. The story MUST focus on the relationship.
  2. The story MUST have a Happily Ever After (HEA) or a Happily For Now (HFN) ending.

That’s it. It can have whatever other elements the author chooses as long as it doesn’t break these two commandments.

So why has reading romance become a “guilty pleasure”? There’s not a damn thing to feel guilty about when you’re reading a romance. NOT. ONE. DAMN. THING.

1bb45d14a016328c2aafab6c1c7e1b70

We’re human. We crave relationships with other people. We desire intimacy and connection. We LOVE to be LOVED. So why should we feel guilty about following a couple on their romantic journey to happiness?

I don’t. And neither should you.

We’ve all heard the hater’s commentary:

  1. Romance novels will give you unrealistic expectations for relationships.
  2. They’re basically porn for women.
  3. My Grandma/Mom reads those kinds of books.
  4. Is there even a plot?
  5. Don’t you want to read a real book?
  6. Romance novels are all the same.

The list could continue for days if I asked you all to contribute a piece of what you’ve heard from the naysayers and romance-haters.

Look, I get it. Romance novels aren’t for everyone. Just like I don’t enjoy reading high-fantasy or horror. And not every romance novel is suited for every palate within the genre, for example, the preference between steamy and sweet romance.

But our differences in taste are what make us who we are. If everyone liked the same thing, life would be boring and bland.

We need to stop feeling like we have to defend our love of romance. Authors and readers alike. There is nothing to defend. Instead, maybe we should share the love.

The next time someone decides to throw one of those tired cliched questions at us, our response should be simple and direct:

“Have you read one before?”

If they answer no, then offer them a taste. Give them a recommendation. Let them discover the wonderful world of romance for themselves.

They may not like it. And that’s fine. But just like I tell my kids, you can’t say you don’t like something if you’ve never tried it. So, take a few bites.

Sometimes one taste can change someone’s mind.

Slide6

So carry that paperback with pride. We are the genre of love.

LOVE makes the world a better place. ❤ So let’s sprinkle that glorious stuff everywhere!

giphy (1)

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

 

Advertisements

How to Write a Helpful Review

Before I began writing on a daily basis, I read. I mean I devoured romance novels like I needed them for my very survival. When my kids were small, I frequented the library. I read exclusively romance, but the sub-genres varied from contemporary to suspense to historical. Honestly, it depended on what covers caught my eye and what I was in the mood for that day. I would leave with six or seven books and return less than a week later to get new books. I was a voracious reader.

I still am, although I haven’t been reading nearly as much as I should. Believe me, if I could read all day, I would. Unfortunately, my kids are older and much more active and my husband actually wants to spend time with me. Fancy that. *laughs*

There is one thing I never quite understood the importance of as a reader that now makes perfect sense as an author.

REVIEWS.

Slide3

Now that eBooks have taken off, reviews are much easier to access. I admit, I read them when I’m considering whether to purchase a book by a new-to-me author. I read the five stars, the one stars, and a few in-between. Honestly, I rarely find reviews to be helpful. Most of the time I end up downloading the free sample of the story to see if it hooks me. That normally provides me with enough insight into the quality of the story to make the decision whether or not to purchase the book.

As an author, reviews can be crucial to the success of a book. Amazon won’t even market my books until they have a certain number of reviews. Obviously people rely on them heavily to decide whether or not to buy my book. Reviews are important to authors and readers alike.

Now to the heart of it all, what makes for a HELPFUL review?

One and two star reviews, are they really helpful? I get it, you pick up a book that looks promising. You dive in with gusto, only to be disappointed. The characters are unlikable, unrelatable. The plot is predictable. There are elements you absolutely hated. It’s cliche. There’s too much sex. There’s not enough sex. The author obviously skipped the crucial step of editing or hiring a professional editor. The list of possibilities is endless.

But, does that deserve a one star review? Perhaps.

I get it. You’re pissed that the story fell short of your expectations. You wasted your time and your money. I can relate completely. But remember, be kind. Don’t say anything in your review that you wouldn’t say in person to the author’s face. What comes into play here is tact and constructive criticism. Offer valid points on what you liked and didn’t like about the story, or why you couldn’t finish the book. But for every criticism you have, you should balance it with something you liked.

A good author will appreciate your review if you provide both the good and the bad for consideration. If the book wasn’t to your personal tastes, please make that clear in the review. Some people like steamy romance. Some people don’t. I get it. But be kind with your words. Remember, if you wouldn’t say it to their face, you shouldn’t write it.

0IKcS

I found this helpful chart from www.jpmfilmsworldwide.com that can help distinguish constructive criticism from destructive criticism. I’ve linked the photo to his blog post on this topic in order to give credit to the author and provide some helpful reading material for everyone. Because honestly, we all need a bit of help learning to give constructive criticism. But this adequately describes what we so desperately lack in reviews. JPM Films Worldwide Constructive Crit

I’m sure you’re wondering, “Well, what about good reviews? What if I want to give a three, four, or five star review?”

Let’s be honest with each other. There are always parts of even the best book that we find ourselves dissatisfied with. Most of these are personal preferences, I get that. But it’s still important that we provide constructive criticism in a positive review as well.

Constructive-Criticism-cartoon

The truth is authors are always growing and improving their craft. Constructive criticism is what helps us grow and learn. It teaches us humility and aids us in polishing our craft.

I once took a piece of my work to a writer’s group. Everyone praised it. Oh how wonderful it was, how descriptive…blah, blah, blah. One gentleman in the group gave me a sigh when it was his turn for feedback. He said, “Kirsten, your powers of description are amazing. I can almost visualize every detail. But honestly, the story has no conflict, your characters are two-dimensional, and it’s boring and predictable.”

OUCH! I won’t lie. That assessment hit me HARD. But it was that feedback that challenged me to grow as an author. I didn’t need placated or a “good job” pat on the back. I wanted honest, constructive criticism. It helped me get to where I am now. And I will always be thankful for those who challenge me to improve and hone my craft.

Whether the book was good or bad, the author deserves a review. Be honest, be kind, and balance the positives with the negatives. Writing a review shouldn’t be intimidating. It’s not rocket science.

A review is your way of telling the author how much you appreciate them and providing them with the tools they need to grow. So, go out and share the love.

Always remember:

Slide2

Your recommendation is the most sincere form of flattery.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions. As always, be kind.

May your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

 

 

Every Author Needs a Reader

The first week of January. It seems like the BEST time to renovate. Right? New year means new me. I hope I’m not digging my own grave here by posting my intentions for the year. You’ll hold me to it, right? Not exactly new year’s resolution material, but I’m definitely gearing up for a new direction. So…my game plan this year:

Slide3

But wait, don’t you already market, Kirsten? I tried, and I failed. Let me be honest with you. I suck at marketing. I’m horrible at it. I absolutely hate trying to sell myself as an author. Feels like I’m tooting my own horn a little too loud. The worst part is, I have to toot my own horn louder than everyone else who’s blowing theirs. So, it’s just a gigantic cacophony of authors making noise. And honestly, it’s exhausting.

I need something new, something fresh, which also brings me to my brand. I know who I am. I know what I like to read. I certainly know what I like to write. And I will be perfectly frank, I write what I would want to read. Sounds simple right? Wrong. Once again, I need to build my relationship with readers. Which is why I’m firing up the old blog again.

Facebook has done a bang-up job of hiding posts from my followers and potential followers. They want me to pay for every post to be seen. Well, I’m sorry, I don’t have that kind of money laying around. I have to be wise when I invest my money and my time as an author. Just like you do when you’re thinking of trying a new-to-me author with a shiny book cover and a promising blurb. I’m a reader too, I know. *wink*

bad books

I picked up two part-time jobs to pay for my self-publishing. The problem was, it stole all my time from writing and marketing. My writing fizzled out. I had no direction. So, I made the decision to leave those jobs behind and focus on my writing again.

YOU are going to be the biggest help in having me succeed in my goal this year. When I say Focus on the Relationship, I mean the relationship with you as a reader. ❤

Readers are KEY. Why am I spending the money and the time writing and editing a book if no one will read it? I will gladly write it for me. But I want to see the joy and delight when someone dives into one of my stories and loses themselves if only for a short period of time.

Slide2

I love creating worlds and characters and romance. I truly believe it’s my calling in life. But I can’t write if I don’t have readers.

I promise to do my part. I have a list of stories that long to be shared with the world. Your love, encouragement, and support are more important than you know.

If you love an author’s work, let them know.  It could be the encouragement they need on a day when they just want to give up writing altogether.

Slide1

Here’s to a new year. I hope you will join me on my journey of writing self-discovery. I have faith it will be a productive adventure for both of us. Be sure to follow for updates. There are some fun blog posts planned for this year.

May your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten