I received a question recently in the blog email account that was really insulting. Now I know the author didn’t intend to insult me, or at least I assume she didn’t intend to insult me, but I couldn’t help but take it that way.
A member of a romance writers group, the reader asked if we could recommend “serious quality writing in this genre.” She continued to say, “Now maybe I am asking for the impossible. Does anyone write really quality stuff in this genre, or simply stuff that will sell. Surely there are writers out there producing quality work that still gets a smile, gives great vicarious sex and a happy ending?”
I’m going to give this author the benefit of the doubt and assume that she didn’t mean it the way it was said, because of course she can’t possibly be saying that there’s no good writing in all of romance, can she?
I’m asked regularly why I think romance doesn’t get the respect it deserves and if that will ever happen. And I’ve been sitting for months trying to answer that question. I guess I hadn’t been insulted lately because now I have some things to say.
First of all, don’t ever imply that all of the amazing authors I represent are simply writing to sell. I have an incredible list of very talented writers and I think all of their work is quality. Of course they are all different and not all might be to your tastes, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t writing quality material. I also have to wonder what your question says about me. Do you honestly think I got into this business to represent crap? C’mon! Give me some credit. I got into this business so that I could represent books I love to read. Sure I need to make sure those books are also something I can sell, but books don’t sell unless the editor and agent buying and selling actually think they are quality.
Romance is not going to get the respect it so aptly deserves until the writers of romance all stand tall and proudly proclaim that they write romance. I know RWA is amazing and I know there are many, many authors proud of what they write. But there seems to be just as many who whisper it under their breaths, who are afraid to admit that they write romance. Why is that? It’s the single most profitable genre in this business; over and over romance dominates the bestseller lists. Thousands and thousands of women and, yes, men read romance novels. Why is it we then feel shame over these amazing books?
I guess some if it must be history, but aren’t we belittling women by saying that books geared toward them are crap? Because I do often think that’s what we’re saying. Listen, there’s bad writing in every genre. There’s bad SF, bad mystery, and yes, folks, literary fiction doesn’t always mean you’re getting quality writing.
I can come up with lots of reasons why I think romance gets a bad rap, but most of it, I suspect, is just plain snobbery. And if you haven’t noticed, it just plain p’es me off.