Thursday, April 9, 2009

Little Miss Crabby Pants Gets Snotty

Dear Los Angeles Times,

I know this has been a tough time for you. What with newspapers sinking faster than the Titanic and you laying off a bunch of people. So I can understand why you'd be feeling particularly surly and snotty right now. However, is it really necessary to take it out on romance readers?

First, there's the simple fact that once again the L.A. Times Book Festival doesn't have one single romance author anywhere on the program. Not one. There's really no excuse for this. Frankly, the only state with more romance writers per capita than California is Texas. Plus, RWA has some supremely awesome local chapters out here, chock full of writers who I know would fall all over themselves to be a part of your event. So once again, I will not be attending. As tempting as it is to have the chance to bow down before the totally kick ass Mary Higgins Clark - I don't think I could live with myself to support an event that has such an obvious bias towards the largest selling genre of fiction. C'est la vie. We all have a choice. You've been choosing to ignore the romance genre and it's readers, and I'm choosing not to attend. Everybody wins! / end sarcasm

However your recent op-ed-like piece on the recession heating up the romance market really sticks in my craw. One of the sad facts of life is that I always expect the worst when the mainstream media gets it in their heads to do a story about romance novels. I brace myself for the worst, and am pleasantly surprised when I read an article that actually doesn't mention Fabio, sex or bodice-ripping. I tend to get less pissed off if I go in expecting to be belittled and ridiculed. I know, call me wacky.

So I don't know why I was so shocked to read your article. Maybe it was the level of condescension? I mean, I always expect it to be there in any sort of media coverage - but not quite so vehement. Also, I think the surprisingly even-handed New York Times piece lulled me into a state of shocked complacency.

Whenever I give one of my reader's advisory talks on the romance genre to librarians I always tell them one thing.
"If you do not take anything else away from this presentation, at the very least remember this. Do not sneer. Do not condescend. Do not talk down to romance readers. The sad truth is that they expect it. They expect people to treat them like morons. So when someone doesn't? When someone listens to them, and values their reading opinions? They remember. And you'll have an enthusiastic library patron for life. If you do condescend? Expect them to never darken your doorstep again, and they'll tell everyone they know how much you suck. You will be losing a huge potential market for your library. Remember this, and remember it well."
The same applies for newspapers, who have just been so shocked that nobody is reading their book coverage anymore. Gee, I wonder why? You've thumbed your nose at genre fiction for so long, and specifically popular romance fiction, that people have taken their book-ish interests to other venues....namely the Evil Internet, where genre fiction at large (not just romance) has exploded across the Blogosphere. We've been accepted here, and we're lovin' it baby!

But like I said earlier, it's all about choice. You're choosing to be asshats, and I'm choosing to get back to my status quo of girding my loins whenever the mainstream media gets it in their heads to talk about romance novels. The New York Times caught me with my pants down. Rest assured, it will not happen again.

Sincerely,
Little Miss Crabby Pants

15 comments:

Rowena said...

Amen sister, A-frickin'-men! Great post!

Kati said...

Wendy, I'd like to marry this post.

You rock,my friend!

jmc said...

Gah! More bodice rippers, which goes well with yesterday's review in the Washington Post of a historical fiction novel (not genre romance!) was also a bodice ripper.

LoriK said...

Yes, it would be nice if they stopped treating us like we're mentally deficient. I used to be a member of a book group that read literary fiction. I've had conversations about romance novels that were far more intelligent and insightful than the ones those supposedly better books inspired.

Shari Anton said...

You truly are SuperWendy! You go, girl!

mageela said...

Bravo!

Liza said...

WTG Wendy!

Kwana said...

Bravo! Cheers! Smooches! Love this post.

Lass said...

I'm an avid romance reader.

I rolled my eyes reading the LATimes piece; but I remember it's an opinion piece. When are OpEds ever unbias and even handed?

It would seem more obnoxious for the NYTimes piece to have been a lot of snark and snobbery. It isn't an OpEd piece.

Wendy said...

Lass: I think it was the sneering tone that annoyed me more than anything. I don't think everyone has to love romance novels - but don't trash them just because "you" don't like them. I don't like to read science fiction. Just don't. Not my thing. But that doesn't mean that I think all science fiction novels are garbage and that anyone who reads them is a pathetic pimply loser who lives in their mom's basement.

I'm actually more ticked off at the Book Festival - which I'm almost positive has never had a romance writer darken their doorstep. At least not in the past 3 years anyway.....

C2 said...

*applause*

You tell 'em!

Kristie (J) said...

In a world wide economy that has tanked, there are only a few bright spots and the higher sales of romance are one of them. Yet STILL there is this aura of condescension going on. Frustrates the HELL out of me.
And what a nasty and thoughtless decision in not including any romance authors at the LA Book Festival.
Great post Wendy.

Big Sis said...

Send a copy to the LA Times editor.

Wendy said...

Big Sis: You're the sister who writes letters to the editor. Me? I just use it as blog fodder ;)

Alie said...

Since it, sister!