You know something? I am not ashamed to call myself a Romance Writer. I am out and proud.
I like being around other romance writers. It is my tribe. It is a place where people write happy stories and they tend to be happy people.
When I wrote my first book I didn't even know I had written "a romance". I had simply written a story -- the sort of story I liked to read with plenty of action, a dashing hero, a strong heroine and, most importantly a happy ever after ending. I didn't know that books had "labels" and if you didn't fit neatly under that label you were condemned to a marginal land where you could never be published.
What was worse I didn't realise that by adopting one of the labels ("Romance") I would be condemned to a world of the perpetual lip curl.
A friend read my manuscript (written on our primitive computer using good old Word Perfect 5.1), declared it readable and suggested I joined the Romance Writers of Australia because they had contests for stories such as mine. I entered it and that year came second, went to my first conference, learned who Norah Roberts was and a romance writer was born...Only there was a problem, saying I was a romance writer out loud was almost as hard as I imagine it would be saying I was a born again Christian. People looked at me in a strange way (and I learned the lip curl) and I found myself making mumbled excuses and trying to explain my work as "really more historical than romance".
The facts are there on the Romance Writers of America website for anyone who wishes to read them. If you like statistics...here they are. In short Romance Fiction accounts for $1.36 billion in sales each year - the largest share of the consumer-book market. More than a quarter of all books sold are romance and are read by approximately 75 million people each year. The nearest genre fiction (Mystery) doesn't even come close. If you want an indication of the popularity of romance fiction, here is a photo from the Literacy Signing put on by Romance Writers of America just a few weeks ago... Have I missed the point, but why is writing romance a bad thing...?
Many, many writers make a good living from writing romance. How many other writers can claim that?
And you know something -- scratch any book genre, literary or other and I bet you find a relationship at its heart. It may not have a HEA but I'm betting there are two characters in that story who are attracted to each other. Romance is about the fundamental of human needs, relationships. It is about love. It is about overcoming obstacles. Even Mr. X's books have love at their heart (I know because I looked him up). So why did he feel he had to dismiss a group of women writers just because he considered them "romance writers" and therefore somehow unworthy?
|Not your preconception of a romance writer?|
Dear old Babs...she didn't really do us romance writers a lot of favours, but by jingo she sold a lot of books!
So what did I do about Mr. X? No point entering into a debate with people with those sort of preconceptions. All you can do is politely point out their mistakes of fact and walk away. They will continue to believe what they want to believe or they may think "Perhaps I was wrong?"