If you could write an open letter to the powers that be in romance publishing, what would you say?
Dear Romance Publishing People,
Hi, and thanks for all the hard work you do, getting books to us hungry readers. We appreciate your long nights, your slush piles the same height as your toddler, your hours of market research, finding the best way to marry (pun intended) art and commerce. Without you, we wouldn’t have a lot of our favorite books, and nobody wants that.
I am writing as a reader today, not a writer, though I do write historical and contemporary romance. I daresay most of us writers had our starts as readers. Writers, no matter how best-selling, are mortal creatures, a fact of which I am sure you are well aware. Aside from natural lifespans, some wander off into other genres, retire, get swallowed by life, fall out of fashion (the horror!) and succumb to other fates, so, really, it is in your best interest to see to the care and feeding of the young ones who will, in time, join their ranks and/or succeed them. Call it insurance against the next Romancelandia Ragnarok.
Of course, I can only speak for myself with any authority, but, on the whole, we romance readers are a voracious lot, as well as a varied one, so I am certain that there are some readers out there whose requests are the polar opposite of my own, and I hope you will listen to them, as well, because everybody deserves a Happily Ever After. That said, here are three things that I would like to see more of in romance fiction in the not too distant future.
Thing One: Expand the scope of historical romance. Once upon a time, readers could choose from a wide panorama of settings and eras. American historicals included, but were not limited to the western expansion of the late nineteenth century. The British Isles saw plenty of action, from the Dark Ages, to WWI, and all points in between. That’s not even touching historicals that are not set in either America or the British Isles. There’s a whole wide wonderful world of love out there, times and places with stories yet to tell, and we want to read all of them.
Thing Two: Inspirational romances, in any period, including contemporary and futuristic (are there people of faith in the future? I certainly hope so.) that are not sweet. I am not talking about heat level here, although, if anyone is so inclined, I would not mind reading a book where both body and soul get some attention, if you know what I mean, but in tone. As a person of faith myself, I would love to read more romance novels that integrate a spiritual element (besides paranormals, that is, and, while we’re at it, keep those coming, ‘kay? Thanks.) and yes, that includes faiths other than my own. I would love to see how different belief systems affect life and love and all that good stuff. I want some risk and some grit, real faith for real life, with a happily ever after at the end.
Thing Three: Standalones. I know, I know, I know, I have been blowing this horn for a while. I know series sell, and hope they always do. Not asking about “instead of” here, but “as well as,” maybe a few novellas once in a while. With series as prevalent as they are, new or established readers can get a little gun shy, wondering where to jump in when they discover a new author or series, if they need to read other books before this new one, or if they’re going to have to wait for a few more books to see a favorite couple get their HEA. Maybe this could play nicely with Thing One (and maybe Thing Two; multitasking is all the rage) but then again, you know the business end of things, and maybe it isn’t that simple (few things ever are.)
Anyway, that’s my three cents for this round. Only suggestions, and there may be more from other readers. In fact, I hope that there are, because this is the romance genre, not the me genre, and part of what I love about romance is that it is a wide umbrella, where all of us fit. In short, thanks again, keep doing your thing, and if some of my things could happen, that would be cool. Maybe putting on my writer hat is the way to get that started, and buying books that are like the ones I want to see more of is always a smart move.
Wishing you great reading always,
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. If you could ask the publishing powers that be for only three things for romance novels yet to come, what would those be? Pull up a chair in the comment section and tell us all about it. There’s room for everybody at this table.