Defending the romance genre

Under the Covers Cover

I went to an event the other day where romance was once again singled out as the example of what not to write. I shouldn't be surprised, because the panel was from a literary publisher with literary authors on it, but I will admit I was annoyed. And when someone is so wrong about something (in my opinion!) I feel the need to speak up.

One person on the panel was explaining what type of stories their publisher would accept. I don't remember the exact words but it was along the lines of, "We wouldn't accept romance, unless the romance explored something like loving the wrong person and the intricacies of that." Now I understand that a literary publisher is not going to publish genre romance but I felt I had to correct her definition of romance. Her example of the type of romance they would publish, wouldn't be a romance - a love story yes, but not a romance. The conventions of the genre require a happily-ever-after and the book she described wouldn't have that. 

There was a brief discussions on the definition and then one of the other panelists sought to clarify, "Not one of those Mills and Boons formulaic romances." Well, two cliches in one talk - I would have thought literary authors would be better than that! 🙂 I think the organiser recognised I was gunning for a fight and she bought the panel to an end.

Afterwards ​one of the panelists came over to chat to me. She asked me what I wished to write and I told her I wrote contemporary romance. She looked a little surprised and asked if I had anything published. When I told her I had three books out and would have another four out next year, she excused herself to get a drink.

The other author on the panel wanted to know what kind of marketing I did and if I had any success with giveaways. I was quite happy to share with him what I'd tried and what I'd learn.

Now I'm not telling this story to denigrate literary authors or literary publishers - they target a different market from what I do and I'm totally fine with that. They like to craft each word, each image, each sentence until it is perfect and I like to tell a good, entertaining story. There's room for both of us. What irritates me is that romance gets singled out time and time again as the example of something not worthy of attention, something of little value, yet there are millions of people reading the genre, which proves these people wrong. 

I think people have been allowed to make fun of romance for far too long and it's time the romance community spoke up and corrected them which was my aim the other day. Until people are confronted by someone questioning their ignorance, they can't learn. So if you come to an event I'm attending, and make sly remarks about romance, expect to be corrected. 🙂

What do you think it would take for romance to actually be shown the same kind of respect as other genres?​