Monday, April 10

Once again, a day late and a dollar short...

*edited* Tuesday morning

I haven't lurked on any message boards since last week, but I finally came across the historical discussion over on AAR.

Most of the things being discussed we've heard over and over again...more sex, paranormals, better covers, trade paperbacks over mass market, blah, blah, blah.

But, one left me scratching my head:

Most historical romance readers don't really want a setting that's very different from modern north America. So a regency manor house is all right but a castle isn't. English terms and systems are all right, but those of other countries have too many differences.

What the heck??

Most historical romance readers don't really want a setting that's very different from modern north America.

Why would you want to read something historical if you're really looking for "modern North America"?

I'm not buying this one. Maybe this is what writers and publishers are getting from "sales" info, but I can't believe "readers" prefer this. I'm starting to think it's more "beggars can't be choosers", and we're stuck reading what's being published but that doesn't mean it's what we prefer. Maybe this is why historicals are loosing market share, maybe the problem is we're not getting what we want and we're looking for something else because the genre we love is sitting in mediocrity hell.

***added Tuesday (4/11) morning***

I just discovered an interesting discussion on Access Romance, and decided to add it to this post as it's from last Thursday, so once again 'I'm a day late, blah, blah, blah'.

I'm wondering what other's think of writers reviewing other authors works. I know Megan stopped reviewing for AAR, when she sold her first book, and she needed to do what she felt comfortable with. I don't have a problem with authors choosing not to review, I'm sure it could get difficult.

And yet, I love Paperback Reader, I read every single one of their reviews, even if it's a book I'm not interested in. Why? They come to the reviewing process from a different percpective. I find their comments about "craft" and writing interesting, and I love how they use their knowledge to explain why books work or don't work.

I have problems with reviewers who only review the good, but I would take huge issue with an author who says they only comments about "good" books, but has no problem taking apart a bad book as long as the title and author isn't included. Kind of tacky isn't it?

20 comments:

Bev (BB) said...

I'm with you. That just didn't make sense to begin with.

And if anyone thinks a Regency manor is evern remotely similar to most things in North America, it boggles the mind. (wish I knew how to do a emoticon symbol for crossed eyes here :D)

And, hey, I still love and read medievals. I just want the plots that interest me, too.

Tara Marie said...

Bev--I'm relieved to know, I'm not completely off base.

Megan Frampton said...

That is the oddest comment I've ever read--I read historicals for ESCAPE FANTASY, not to read about where I live, only draughtier.

And as for writers reviewing other authors, I wish I had the guts that Paperback Reader does. I miss reviewing, but I would never just say nice things, that would be worse than saying nothing at all, so I chose to say nothing at all.

Maili said...

Hm, didn't you swear not to talk about reviews ever again? :P

Yeah, about Jo B's post - I wasn't that surprised because I have met a few readers who say they like reading historicals as long as it's not too foreign [which is what 'modern North American' probably means], not too heavy on historical details, and they don't give a f. about historical accuracy [not even in wallpaper historicals, which is pretty bizarre].

Maili said...

Megan - that's a thing I don't quite understand. A lot of authors say similar things as yours, but what stops them from using their first names only when discussing books in reader mode? Ordinary readers don't always use their surnames, so why should authors if they want to take part in reader discussions or do reviews? Why the need to tell us that they are authors at all? That's one thing that I don't quite get.

Tara Marie said...

Megan,

I read historicals for ESCAPE FANTASY, not to read about where I live, only draughtier. LOL--exactly.

I find it amazing that they can reveiw books so tactfully, they're so diplomatic--I can't seem to master that.

...I would never just say nice things, that would be worse than saying nothing at all, so I chose to say nothing at all. I would too.

Tara Marie said...

Maili--Did I swear off reviews? Ack-the memory still sucks. What can I say? They're my achilles heel. I love the topic. Now, covers, I've sworn off I can probably keep to that one.

Bizarre, it's a rather appropriate description.

Tara Marie said...

One more thing...

Why bother reading a historical if this is true:

I have met a few readers who say they like reading historicals as long as it's not too foreign [which is what 'modern North American' probably means], not too heavy on historical details, and they don't give a f. about historical accuracy [not even in wallpaper historicals...

Why waste your time with a contemporary in historical clothing? If these people are looking for historicals why not American ones then? Why English manor ones?

Some one needs to explain this to me like I'm an idiot, because apparently that's what I am.

Bev (BB) said...

Hm, didn't you swear not to talk about reviews ever again? :P

Er, that was probably me. :D At least, I don't remember anyone else making that vow. Although, come to think of it, I don't remember making that one . . . :p

Ahem, anyway, I agree with Tara on this one, Maili, and I'm certainly not one to harp on historical accuracy. :) I read across all settings (times, locations, dimensions and realities) when I can find plots I like so the reasoning that it's about familiarity is simply strange to me.

That doesn't mean that I'm not sure there are readers out there who look for the familiar. I'm just not sure of that definition as fitting what familiar means. Does that make sense?

I think I'll start a thread on this on Reader Network board about this topic because it intrigues me.

Sam said...

Well, I'm having a heck of a time marketing my book set in ancient Greece (time traveling journalist interviews Alexander the great - gets kidnapped by him because he thinks she's Persephone, so now she's stuck back in 300 BC - he thinks he's done her a huge favore 'daving' her from Hades' minions...Anyhow. We'll see. Most people say it's too different - time not 'in', etc. (Plus there's a threesome.) :-) But it's not erotica - it's more campy fun.

Sam said...

saving not daving.
sigh
It's getting dark here. Storm coming.

Keishon said...

Hey Sam,

That books sounds really good!

I'd buy it.

Keishon

Tara Marie said...

Bev, I'm pretty sure Maili's right, I probably did make that comment.

Keishon & Sam, I think it sounds great too.

Megan Frampton said...

Maili:

I'm not sure why an author wouldn't just use their first name, wearing their 'reader' hat. Although I guess if it got out that it was Ms. Author So-And-So it might (probably would) reflect poorly on said author.

I have almost as vehement views on this subject as you, Tara, so I'm glad you brought it up. The historical but not too historical thing is just goofy, though.

sybil said...

I like it too sam, but not the time travel part ;). Are TT selling now? LOL other than karen marie moning...

I can be one of those horrid people that if the writer can get my attention and I get lost in their world, I don't have to have perfect history.

As long as I don't know it is wrong. Once someone coughmailicough kills it with a history lesson, all I see are the errors. But ignorance can be bliss if I don't know.

But if the plot doesn't take me over and I have sit there thinking... hey is that right, can that happen? (which happens often in RS and police stuff) I get lost and end up researching shit.

But I don't pick up a book expecting it to be bad history, I expect the author to know what they are talking about until they prove otherwise.

Sam said...

Well, I only used the time travel to get the heorine there - once there, nuff said. I like the device of a modern person in the past - only because it's so much more logical to see the past through modern eyes. I don't much like stories set in the past because I have a niggling feeling that the people would not have felt the same way we do about certain important things and discrepancies pull me out of the story. Anyhoooo - thanks for the votes of confidence guys!

Anne E. said...

I'm not so sure that the comment doesn't make sense on some level --we are up to our collective ass in Regency romances & I think that is due in part to the pull of the familiar. We THINK we know this period of history because of all the other Regency romances we have read, plus the recent increased popularity of movies based upon the work of Jane Austen. Romances set in the Middle Ages are probably second in popularity of time period.

Discussions a while back on both Romancing the Blog and the RT website indicated women don't like books set in the Civil War era (GWTW being the exception) because it is depressing ("people die") -- well people died in the Napoleonic Wars as well, but that doesn't seem to keep people from reading Regencies. With the CW, you also have the issue of slavery and how to deal with it -- writing a book strictly from the POV if a Northerner apparently is unacceptable, as we all "know" that the south had the corner on dash and flash. Equally unpopular were romances set in Victoria England because "workers and the poor were exploited" -- which also happened with great frequency in the sacred Regency period as well.

I think it is a desire for the predictable that drives the market, whether it is a contemporary or an historical. How many times have you read something along the lines of "women's fiction is depressing because there isn't always a HEA ending." Maybe I'M wrong, but I think the original message was on to something.

Tara Marie said...

Anne, thank you for explaining it to me like I'm an idiot--LOL.

Your may be right, but it doesn't say much for the "average" romance reader, does it?

Anne E. said...

Did I come off sounding like a know-it-all a/h again? It's just my opinion and it could be totally off track! But how many times have you seen posts that indicate that women's fiction is depressing, etc? I am a reader of several women's fiction authors, including Anne Rivers Siddons and Nancy Thayer, and find their books (especially their earlier works) to be real treasures. It is just that their books deal with uncertain endings -- is that where the problems arise? I love a good romance as much as the next woman, but I also like surprises!

Tara Marie said...

Anne, "know it all"? Not at all. I understand the logic behind it, but still find it odd.