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uncle1282

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Registered: 12/20/10
My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 12:07 PM
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I'm currently writing my first romance novel, after a 20 novel hardboiled mystery series. First person from an upright guy set in a shipyard just after Pearl Harbor. All I know about romances come from either personal experience or what I've read on various writing boards over the years. I know, for example, a romance MUST be (emphasis from a thousand old biddie voices) happily ever after, or at least, happily for now. So I can't kill off even one of the lovers at the end. If I do that, it's not a romance, they tell me.

Okay, okay. I get it. My question has to do with the main currents of the book. I'm at 55k words now with perhaps another 15k left, though I'm a "pantser" and don't plan ahead more than a chapter or so. My book is a mystery, involving a love triangle, a mobster, a German saboteur and all. The main man wades through the mess of a triangle, has a lot of conflicted misgivings and finally chooses one woman, though by then she's left town and handed back his ring. He's tracked by a ring intent on putting a monkey wrench in various shipyard projects, so the FBI and the law come into play.

My question: it's mystery but romance, too. Maybe 50/50. Not sure. How would I market the book? Romance has the huge readership but this ain't no Jane Austen watching paint dry story.
beachgardener

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Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 12:26 PM   in response to: uncle1282 in response to: uncle1282
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This is an old biddie voice speaking, I write murder/adventure mysteries in which there is a romantic thread. They are mysteries, not romances. I'm not a romance expert but I would think you need more he ing and she ing in relation to the spies, FBI, or even the war. Channel Barbara Cartland and pull the romance to the front and put the man's other problems and conflicts in the background. Other wise you may have managed a less hardboiled mystery, but a mystery for all your effort. Have you tried reading a few Romance books to get the hang of the genre? B
Mrs Julia Evans

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Registered: 05/22/16
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 12:44 PM   in response to: uncle1282 in response to: uncle1282
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Having stopped writing for more than two decades (while life got in the way), I became a prolific reader of mostly, but not always, romantic fiction.

Which was why, when I started writing again, I knew exactly the sort of stories I wanted to write.

My books now contain everything I liked about the best romantic stories, but I've thrown in murders, terrorists, cartels, sex-trafficking, you name it. There's nothing light and fluffy about my stories, even though I throw in quite a bit of humour as well.

And my readers like them that way, apparently!

If you're marketing your book to people who like romantic fiction, make sure you tease them with all the extra bits you've thrown in. It might surprise you to discover how many women want a bit more than your average 1980's Mills and Boon novella. And I don't just mean sex! There's much more to the modern female romance reader than the stay at home mom devouring 'mommy porn' (if that woman even exists!).

That's the only thing you don't mention - whether your books go into the bedroom or not. If they do, be very careful how you write your sex scenes. Most women I know dislike sex scenes written by male authors, as they find them too mechanical and far too 'sex by numbers'. They can be as hot as anything, but there has to be an emotional connection.

Anyway, today's readers certainly seem to like the action adventure part of my books, so I'd certainly play up that side of things.

And don't forget your male readers. There are a lot of male romantic fiction readers too, and they'll definitely buy into that side of your story.

Good luck, and let us know how you get on. J
C. Gold

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Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 1:46 PM   in response to: uncle1282 in response to: uncle1282
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Your book is probably not a proper romance hybrid. It is most likely a mystery with romantic elements.

Putting your book in the mystery romance category means your story devotes 50% to the romance developing between your characters. Each character needs their own story arc plus their romantic story arc. The romantic story arc needs the initial response, a wooing over time/advancing the relationship, and the 75% conflict that tries to break them apart, followed by the HEA or HFN (happy for now) resolution. All that while at the same time they are investigating murders or what have you that has it's own beginning, middle, conflict, resolution story arc. A well done romance book weaves all these elements together to create something quite enjoyable.

A quick and dirty check - create a document with only the 'romance' stuff from your story in it. Does it tell a complete story? Does it hit the romance points I mentioned? Is it about equal to the amount of content you devote to the mystery aspect?

My book started off as fantasy romance, but because the guy is spelled to forget everything each morning, that sabotaged the romance aspect and made it less than 50% of the content. Thus, I didn't try advertising it as fantasy romance even though it has all the plot points of a romance.

Romance has a huge readership and also stiff competition. I would recommend reading several popular mystery romance books to see whether yours is a match. Trying to market something as romance when it doesn't come across as that for readers will get you really bad reviews.

Just from the sound of your love triangle where the guy 'finally choses one woman', it sounds like there's going to be a lack of relationship development which is what romance readers want to see throughout the story. Also, love triangles will turn off a certain percentage of people.

And finally, you say 'thousand old biddie voices' and '... this ain't no Jane Austen watching paint dry story.' tells me you don't respect romance or understand what it is about romance that people like. If you don't understand why people like something, how can you provide that to them? So no, you shouldn't try marketing your book as romance.
writerbn

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Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 2:27 PM   in response to: uncle1282 in response to: uncle1282
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uncle1282 wrote:
My question: it's mystery but romance, too. Maybe 50/50. Not sure. How would I market the book? Romance has the huge readership but this ain't no Jane Austen watching paint dry story.

Well, there is a "Mystery & Suspense" subcat under "Romance", but it doesn't sound like your book hits the typical romance beats. Putting it into a romance category could be a recipe for disaster.

Basically, what C. Gold said.
P.M. Laidlow

Posts: 89
Registered: 05/21/17
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 2:36 PM   in response to: C. Gold in response to: C. Gold
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C. Gold wrote:
And finally, you say 'thousand old biddie voices' and '... this ain't no Jane Austen watching paint dry story.' tells me you don't respect romance or understand what it is about romance that people like. If you don't understand why people like something, how can you provide that to them? So no, you shouldn't try marketing your book as romance.

Ding ding ding!

This whole thread is jaw-dropping. Old biddies, watching paint dry, Barbara Cartland, and 1980s Mills & Boon? Way to know your market. Got a finger right on the pulse of 2017's readers.

Romance readers are by far the biggest buyers and do have wide-ranging literary interests. What they don't have is tolerance for condescension toward their favorite genre.
camellifolia

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Registered: 10/30/10
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 4:05 PM   in response to: uncle1282 in response to: uncle1282
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You should read the Harlequin web page and see if you should market as Romance with mystery or Mystery with a bit of romance. Try: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/pages/series-romance.html to see descriptions of the different type of romances.
resteasy

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Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 4:12 PM   in response to: Mrs Julia Evans in response to: Mrs Julia Evans
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I've thought about writing a romance novel, but my wife says I don't have a romantic vein in my body. After 46 years of marriage, two children and grandchildren, something must have gone right. Do you think a story about an unromantic man who occasionally buys flowers for birthdays, anniversaries and laughs at his woman's obsession with buying handbags, jewellery and shoes, would make material for a romance novel? :) Oh and groaning every time she can't find her keys or phone several times a day.
Mrs Julia Evans

Posts: 640
Registered: 05/22/16
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 4:24 PM   in response to: P.M. Laidlow in response to: P.M. Laidlow
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P.M. Laidlow wrote:
C. Gold wrote:
And finally, you say 'thousand old biddie voices' and '... this ain't no Jane Austen watching paint dry story.' tells me you don't respect romance or understand what it is about romance that people like. If you don't understand why people like something, how can you provide that to them? So no, you shouldn't try marketing your book as romance.

Ding ding ding!
This whole thread is jaw-dropping. Old biddies, watching paint dry, Barbara Cartland, and 1980s Mills & Boon? Way to know your market. Got a finger right on the pulse of 2017's readers.
Romance readers are by far the biggest buyers and do have wide-ranging literary interests. What they don't have is tolerance for condescension toward their favorite genre.


Sorry, did I miss something? Where did you find this thread condescending to romance readers, because, frankly, I can't see it myself.

Perhaps you should have taken the time to read the posts a bit more carefully, before climbing up on that very high horse, and shooting your mouth off.

I was trying to point out that readers have a wide variety of tastes and that they've moved on since the days of 80's Mills and Boon books. Beachgardner suggested the OP actually read some romance books to try and understand the genre better, and c.gold was trying to stress that without an understanding of the genre, the OP should stay well clear.

In defence of the OP, at least he bothered to ask the question. Many people dump romance books on the market without even caring about whether they fit the genre they've been slotted into.

Where you found condescension in any of that is beyond me.

I can't speak for the others, but romantic fiction is, and has always been my favourite genre. You want proof? Come and check out my kindle, which I've owned since around 2010. Approximately 2500 books, all categorised into around 20 folders after I finished reading them. I probably deleted half as many again as I knew I'd never read them twice. Maybe 5% of those were freebies - book 1 in a series, but the rest of them I paid for. I've probably got about 50 unread books, but since writing took over again, I haven't had time to get to them. I like to think I'm an author's dream, because when I liked a book, I didn't care if the author had thirty books out, I'd buy and read every one.

So, before taking a proprietorial stance, laying claim to romance readers as though they were your own personal property, just remember that as well as being my readers too, I'm actually one of them. And I'm as entitled to voice my opinion as all the rest.

And as for knowing what sells in 2017? I'm fairly sure I know who my readers are, and what they're looking for. From what I can tell you have three sixty plus page books in the erotica category, which barely scrape under the 1million mark in the rankings. Please don't presume to lecture us and throw a hissy fit, unless and until you can back it up.

J
Mrs Julia Evans

Posts: 640
Registered: 05/22/16
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 4:28 PM   in response to: resteasy in response to: resteasy
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Hi resteasy,

I'm not sure that all of those qualities would make for a good romance novel, but they sure sound familiar to me. (Says she, smiling at hubby over the over the top of her laptop screen!)

J ;)
writerbn

Posts: 5,235
Registered: 05/12/12
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 8, 2017 5:24 AM   in response to: resteasy in response to: resteasy
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resteasy wrote:
:) Oh and groaning every time she can't find her keys or phone several times a day.
I finally bought my wife one of those Tile gizmos. However, her phone is too old to run the app, so I have to run it on mine. So far, after doing that, she has lost her keys only once (and she used to lose them every day, sometimes several times a day). She still loses her phone, though.
resteasy

Posts: 783
Registered: 07/02/12
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 8, 2017 3:48 PM   in response to: Mrs Julia Evans in response to: Mrs Julia Evans
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That's because we're real men who fix things and don't parade around like some six-pack nancy boys!
resteasy

Posts: 783
Registered: 07/02/12
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 8, 2017 3:51 PM   in response to: writerbn in response to: writerbn
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Vive la difference.
Mrs Julia Evans

Posts: 640
Registered: 05/22/16
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 8, 2017 4:23 PM   in response to: resteasy in response to: resteasy
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resteasy wrote:
That's because we're real men who fix things and don't parade around like some six-pack nancy boys!
Are you sure you and my better half don't drink in the same pub? You could be quoting him, word for word! ;)
resteasy

Posts: 783
Registered: 07/02/12
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 8, 2017 4:49 PM   in response to: Mrs Julia Evans in response to: Mrs Julia Evans
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I'll drink my next pint to him. You've chosen a winner. And you've made me realise I wouldn't be able to write a romance novel without cringing and ever looking a real man in the eye again. 😷
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