Today, I’m cheating. Wench readers have sent several excellent questions lately, but none of them provide quite enough basis for me to write a whole blog and some of them touch on topics we’ve discussed in the past. But combined, they present an interesting pattern of where reader thoughts are traveling, and I want to acknowledge that we read your questions, even if we can’t always answer them. Or I can’t, but perhaps another wench can in the future.
Jeanine Pellerin asks about relatively unknown authors.
Nina Paules would like to present readers with the world of e-publishing.
Jane Irish Nelson asks why illegitimate children have become a plot point for Regency romances lately.
And Joey Binard thinks today’s historical romances have been “dumbed down.”
The topics don’t sound related, do they? But in fact, they are to some degree, and it’s all because of the publishing market and the economy and realllllly boring factors you probably don’t want to know about.
KISS answer: Today’s mass market fiction must appeal to a very broad range of readers, which means eliminating any topic that doesn’t appeal to roughly 50% of the readership of that genre. Conversely, anything that DOES appeal to them, must be included. Because of current market conditions, any book that doesn’t appeal to that middle-of-the-road readership ends up unknown or with an e-publisher.
IE: If more illegitimate children are showing up as plot points, then apparently the majority of readers have voted with their dollars for illegitimate children. (That’s why Harlequin sold “secret baby” books for years—people bought them by the armload.) If historical romance has been reduced to dialogue and sex, then that’s what the romance readership has demanded by shelling out their money for those kind of books. It’s not as if there aren’t dozens of other books every month from which to choose, but the market follows the money.
The other readers, the ones who want all those different, quirky books, who want historical detail, who want to let their imaginations roam, have to scrounge around the outskirts of bookstores, hunting for books that aren’t on the drugstore or Walmart racks. Now the question becomes, how do readers find the kind of niche book they want to read?
That’s the question I’m opening to our readers—How do you find the books you enjoy? How can authors who write quirky or detailed, who write e-books, or who aren’t well known, reach the audience who wants their kind of books? Hundreds of romance books are published each month. How do you find new authors? Maybe we need to start a special order bookstore for the discriminating!
And how can authors reach readers like Joey who thinks new books are dumbed down and has resorted to pulling out old favorites instead of buying new? We’ll never show publishers that readers love intelligent books if no one buys them. Only bestsellers get attention. So, how do you find a good book if it’s not a bestseller?
And by all means, if you know an author or book that our readers might enjoy, include the name and title in your comment (just click one of the sign in links under “comment” below). Our readers love to learn about authors new to them.
I'm adding a link to my "blind heroine" book, a very old Signet Regency that has just recently been reissued at www.RegencyReads.com. The original editor decided she was tired of ill and maimed protagonists and refused to accept a blind heroine, so I had to make her lame instead. I've edited and edited to get rid of all the sensory description that made sense for a blind heroine but it's still hilarious. But as the discussion in our comments indicates, this is another "middle of the road" decision!