Monday, November 13, 2006

I Wish I May

Karen Templeton has a well-done post over at Romancing The Blog today that talks about missing-in-action authors and why they "quit." It's nothing that I didn't already know, but how about the rest of the mainstream romance reading public? Let's face it, there are only a handful of us that are seriously plugged-in through the Internet. I'd wager there are countless romance readers out there who have never entertained the notion of posting on a message board, joining an e-mail loop, reading or starting a blog. And to a certain extent, I think that makes them a tiny bit less savvy. Mind you, I didn't say "stupid" or "naive" - just not as aware of some of the inner workings and behind the scenes brouhahas that occur in the business.

And I think we all know by now that publishing is a business. Heck, I might not like the direction certain publishers have taken over the last few years (cough, Avon, cough) - but obviously it's working for them. I mean, they must be making money or else you think they would have gotten a clue by now.

So who do we blame it on? Honestly, I think it's mainly us - the reader. Ultimately we decide. We decide what sells and what doesn't. Now I know what you're thinking, "I can only buy what publishers offer" and that's certainly true. But you can also not buy. Tired of watered down historicals? Well stop buying them. Get them from the library, start reading mainstream historical fiction or book trade online or with friends. This might require you as the reader to make some hard choices - but let's be honest here, if you stopped buying books tomorrow would you run out of stuff to read? If you're a typical genre fiction reader the answer is no. Hell, I'm personally drowning in unread books. I could stop buying tomorrow and I'd be set for years.

There is always talk online of what readers are tired of, what they want more of, how Publisher X could offer more variety (cough, Avon, cough). To aid in the discussion, here is Wendy's Handy List Of What She Wants. Find me in a bookstore and chances are I'm working with this unofficial list of rules.
  • Regency is a hard sell for me anymore. Unless it's dark. I'll do dark.
  • England as a whole is hard sell for me anymore. Unless it's dark. I'll do dark.
  • Western = YeeHaw! I tend to buy these new, no questions asked.
  • Westerns that take place pre-Civil War = YeeHaw and Hell Yeah!
  • American-set historicals late 19th century, early 20th = gimme, gimme, gimme
  • Dark romantic suspense = good thing (or as I like to call it, Where Have You Gone Katherine Sutcliffe. Answer = she retired)
  • I'm tired of paranormals now unless the back cover blurb really shouts out at me.
  • Emma Holly needs to write more erotica and faster.
  • I'm really, really tired of erotica mixed with paranormal.
  • Gimme more gothics that don't feature any woo-woo.
  • Maggie Osborne needs to come out of retirement. Seriously, I need her more than her family does.
  • Harlequin Historical really should publish more than one western a month. I love that line and they have several good western authors writing for them.
  • Don't you think the French Revolution is a great setting? Why isn't it done more? Too depressing? Is the guillotine not sexy enough? Or is it because the book would feature French people?
  • Campy reads. Thea Devine at her best writes wonderful camp (at her worst that's a different story). A girl just needs over-the-top camp every now and then.
  • Heroines who don't give birth to triplets in the epilouge. Seriously publishers - women can decide to never have children and that doesn't make them freaks.
  • Historicals that "feel" different. Everything has been reading the same to me in this sub genre for the last year (at least). I can't believe it's run its course. I think it just needs fresh voices, and authors/publishers willing to take some risks.
That's all I got for now. Hey, it's a Monday - give me some time to cook up some more. In the meantime, what is on your wishlist?


Kelly said...

Emma Holly needs to write more erotica and faster.

Amen to that! :-)

Rosie said...

Look I know we all like the included, but almost always, I can live without the prologue. The only exception is when the author writes a prologue that actually concludes the story and should have been the last chapter.

I loved Katherine Sutcliffe's books! I think she trains horses now.

Dark? Did you say dark? I love dark too.

I've been trying not to buy the same old, same old and try stuff that I ordinarily wouldn't but I swear there is a template authors have been given for writing in each genre. That's why the unique or new voice gets such a rush and gush from readers.

So I didn't add to your list Wendy, just picture me bobble heading in agreement.

Amie Stuart said...

Thank god someone wants straight contemporary erotica (straight being figurative of course LOL).

I loved the French Revo. when I read historicals!

Sutcliffe just fell off the earth! Have you tried Lisa Jackson? I remember some of her early suspense being dark but I haven't read her in a while.

Regency--Have you checked out Rabbit Heart? It's historical fiction. The premise is fascinating, and dark, but I'm not sure how it executes

Marina Sokolova said...

I agree, we as consumers have power and responsibility.

Kate R said...

I want another flipping contract.

hey, you did ask.

Whiney Author

Kate R said...

whoops. . .that should be "whiny"

I also want another Layton and Farr and I don't care if they write Regency or stone age. And I want to know where AM Riley went.

I love Kelly's avatar.

Maili said...

Maggie Osborne needs to come out of retirement. Seriously, I need her more than her family does.


Don't you think the French Revolution is a great setting?

No. I blame Alexander Dumas, Felix Gras and Baroness Orczy for popularising it so much that it was part of our secondary education. Oh, let us not forget Charles Sweet Dickens. I'm thoroughly sick of that period. There's nothing romantic about that period, either. Pardon me for being sour-faced, but honestly, it's a period of utter misery. It's no different from the Scottish Clearances, but the difference is it's the rich who get to die. But hey, that's just me. :D

You might like Marge Piercy's 'City of Darkness, City of Light' and Hilary Mantel's 'A Place of Great Safety', though.

Wendy said...

Layton has a new one coming out next month - For The Love Of A Pirate (although I'm not sure how you feel about her Avon work). Also, she released a historical novel under the name Edith Felber - Queen Of Shadows.

While the French Rev. isn't pretty - I find it hard to believe that nobody feel in love while it was happening. I think the love in the face of adversity aspect is what appeals to me. That and rich people dying LOL

And amen on Charles Dickens. Blah.

Kristie (J) said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! You said everything I've been thinking. I so agree with you Wendy.

Anonymous said...

Rabbit Heart was not so great. I expected it to be a dark and gritty historical and it was all sweetness and light and read like a tepid historical romance--not to mention the reason for the deaths of the men in the narrator's bed was DUMB. And the historical aspects were quite wallpapery.


Anonymous said...

BTW, Rabbit Heart was set in the 1890s, not the Regency era. But you couldn't tell. *snark*