PDA

View Full Version : To romance or not romance?



Hildreth J. Little
12-30-2008, 09:06 AM
Opinions, please.
To be successful/acceptable/saleable, does a story have to include a romantic/sexual relationship between (either) major or minor characters?

ELMontague
12-30-2008, 09:57 AM
No. You require neither romantic nor sexual relationships to make a story saleable. It's just more fun if it's there.

Hildreth J. Little
01-01-2009, 07:56 AM
Thanks for the reply. Let me refine the question. Would you put out your hard earned dollars to buy a novel about a strong woman who was once married, but then lives her life without a romantic involvement?

Palmfrond
01-01-2009, 08:11 AM
Of course. There's an awful lot of life that has nothing to do with sex.

veinglory
01-01-2009, 09:44 AM
No.

Um, as witness the contents of a bookstore near you?

She_wulf
01-01-2009, 10:12 AM
Thanks for the reply. Let me refine the question. Would you put out your hard earned dollars to buy a novel about a strong woman who was once married, but then lives her life without a romantic involvement?
That all depends on whether there is rising action, conflict, climax, and conclusion. Otherwise it's Chick Lit and I'd use it for toilet paper.

Seriously, if you want to make money writing fiction, get a job as a lawyer or politician. You will make more money that way.

Fiction writing is one of THE HARDEST industries.

I don't have all then numbers, but fiction sales are about 1/3 or less of overall book sales. (consider re-sales of classics, cook books, how to books, psychology books, text books, etc. and the actual number is probably less)

Fiction sales do not normally outpace sales of self help books.

A book can take as little as a month (although it probably takes longer with edits and re-writes) and up to a decade or two to write.

Romance book sale advances can be as little as $1500(?) (I cannot find the source, darn it....!) for probably three to five months of work. Rarely do book advances for first-time authors garner more than five figures. There are the few million plus advances out there, but that happens maybe once a year or so.

IF you are lucky enough to get published. The steps involved include some or all of the following: story idea, pen to paper or fingers to keyboard/typewriter, re-writes, edits, more re-writes, query agents or publishing houses still accepting new writers, agent finds publishing house or publishing house pulls your manuscript out of a slush pile and the beta readers pass it along to an editor who likes it enough to want to sign you so they tell you to get an agent, agent and publishing house (and you) haggle over contract, you sign contract, you get advance or other monetary compensation for your work, book goes through more edits and re-writes, typeset, final proof galleys, print production run, marketing, shipped and put on book shelves...

A lot of work. But you could skip the agents, the editors and...self publish.

Vanity press and self-published books do not rely on publishing house marketing campaigns and commonly sell less than books published by larger houses.
from http://www.writing-world.com/publish/selfpub.shtml
If you discover that you can produce your book for a per-book cost of, say, $3, and market it for $14.95 retail, it's easy to envision huge profits from that $11.95 profit margin. Unfortunately, self-publishing involves many costs besides the actual production cost of the book itself; if you're not investing in ongoing marketing efforts, for example, you won't be selling books (or making profits). In addition, a large number of your books may be sold at deep discounts (up to 60%), which seriously reduces the profit-per-book.
Disadvantage: money up front. You are paying to play. Then you have to market yourself in order to guarantee sales.

All that work to make...$15,000 or less (someone help me here, relying off memory of a prior thread) a year

The point is: Don't write something because you think it will sell better than something else. Write a cook book in that case. Write because you love writing. That way if you make less than you think you should be making you are at least doing something you feel proud of.

BAY
01-01-2009, 10:47 AM
Having romance in the story will often shed new light on a main character. I think women like it more than men, but I don't have statistics to back up my opinion. Please note I said romance, which is a bit more than just getting laid. A little romance is a breather from a non-stop pace of a thriller, so overall, I think it's good, but not mandatory.

Claudia Gray
01-01-2009, 10:48 AM
That all depends on whether there is rising action, conflict, climax, and conclusion. Otherwise it's Chick Lit and I'd use it for toilet paper.


To be entirely fair, plenty of chick lit does contain these qualities -- Bridget Jones' Diary, grande dame of the genre, does this fairly beautifully -- and yet almost all contains romance. So the comparison's not really on point.

For the OP: I think the biggest problem you would have is that the most obvious classification for this is "women's fiction," and while not all women's fiction contains romance, a lot of it does, and editors/readers may have higher expectations of it. If you can truly make it a book that reads as much as if it were for male readers than for female, it might be an easier sell like that.

She_wulf
01-01-2009, 07:21 PM
To be entirely fair, plenty of chick lit does contain these qualities -- Bridget Jones' Diary, grande dame of the genre, does this fairly beautifully -- and yet almost all contains romance. So the comparison's not really on point.
You're right. I've not read Bridget Jones' Diary so, yes, my snap knee-jerk judgment was based upon a "best seller" that was highly recommended by the librarian. After reading slogging through 43 pages of character-indulgent whining, I gave up the genre. Bad book! it shouldn't do that. (cough) Songs Without Words = "book without plot"(cough)


For the OP: I think the biggest problem you would have is that the most obvious classification for this is "women's fiction," and while not all women's fiction contains romance, a lot of it does, and editors/readers may have higher expectations of it. If you can truly make it a book that reads as much as if it were for male readers than for female, it might be an easier sell like that.
Romance isn't all about the sex scenes either. One of the best examples I've read recently is Karen Marie Moning's Fever series. The MC has liaisons with a death-by-sex fae which doesn't fall into the category of romance, but more into the category of "this really is not a good thing and it creeps me out" and she is tangled with her mentor/boss who seems oblivious to the undercurrents of sexual tension between them.

Of the two pairings, most of the women in my book group prefer the latter even though very little has happened to encourage a romance.

Added: One more book recommendation, The Time Traveler's Wife... I honestly can't remember sex scenes being graphic in that book, but the building of the story all the way to the conclusion was AMAZING!!!! I cried and felt more moved by that book than almost any other book I've read. So, you see, it isn't about the mechanics, or the should I/shouldn't I? It is about what is best for your idea.
Amy

GirlWithPoisonPen
01-01-2009, 07:29 PM
Thanks for the reply. Let me refine the question. Would you put out your hard earned dollars to buy a novel about a strong woman who was once married, but then lives her life without a romantic involvement?

A reader will be fine with if it makes sense to the story and they aren't expecting a romance.

smoothseas
01-01-2009, 07:50 PM
Romance book sale advances can be as little as $1500(?) (I cannot find the source, darn it....!) for probably three to five months of work. Rarely do book advances for first-time authors garner more than five figures. There are the few million plus advances out there, but that happens maybe once a year or so.

she wulf,

Is this the link you were looking for?


"SHOW ME THE MONEY!
by Brenda Hiatt

What do the various romance publishers pay? Here's the best info I've been able to glean from five years of surveying authors who were generous enough to volunteer their figures. Royalty percentages are based on cover price unless otherwise noted, and are for U.S. retail sales. (Foreign and book club sales, if any, typically have lower royalty rates.) Earnout figures (where reported) include all earnings for a book, including the advance and any subsidiary sales. In the interests of anonymity and accuracy, publishers are only included if I've had at least three responses for that publisher. Similarly, n/a means that specific information wasn't available. Medians and ranges for advances and earnouts are provided, where appropriate, to control for the skewing that one or two outliers might cause. In this update I have eliminated all advance data prior to the year 2000 as well as adding median figures (the midpoint within a range). I make no claim to statistical significance--I simply present what I've been given, operating on the assumption that some information is far better than none at all. "



http://www.brendahiatt.com/id2.html

She_wulf
01-01-2009, 10:05 PM
Those numbers are higher than what I've seen previously, however, the dollar doesn't go as far as it did last year either.

Thanks!!!!

ellisnation
01-06-2009, 06:22 AM
I think it would be fine without any romance. However, maybe a little more appealing if you explored her first marriage and why it didn't work out. Was there any juicy drama happening? Was it something horrible that ended it? Sometimes, a romance gone bad is more interesting than a romance gone good.

As a reader, I might also wonder why she has decided to avoid relationships. Does she have an " I don't need a man" attitude in the book?

I think for her to NOT have any sort of romantic future, or desire for one, she needs to have an edge - good or bad. Just something that will make it ok for the reader.

msduckland
01-26-2009, 09:52 AM
Its really not neccessary in many books

CasualObserver
01-26-2009, 05:46 PM
Would you put out your hard earned dollars to buy a novel about a strong woman who was once married, but then lives her life without a romantic involvement?
I would hope this is a facet of her character and not the plot. 'Woman doesn't look for a man' is pretty thin as a premise. Otherwise, I see no problem with a book that doesn't have romance.

Ruv Draba
01-27-2009, 04:19 AM
Thanks for the reply. Let me refine the question. Would you put out your hard earned dollars to buy a novel about a strong woman who was once married, but then lives her life without a romantic involvement?Yes, if it was also about something interesting.

'I don't have a guy and I take out my own garbage' isn't interesting. 'I'm teaching English in Istanbul and I don't have a guy' is.

aopoet04
01-27-2009, 04:30 AM
I don't know if my opinion can cover the general populace, but I always prefer books with at least a little romance in them. Not necessarily sexual relations, but some sort of romantic edge. Then again, there are many very good books that have no romance in them but have romantic characters... they sort of trick you into getting a romantic vibe from the book, if that makes any sense. That's where fanfics come from (horrible example, but still...)

I think that if your writing is good and your plot is sound, romance isn't strictly a necessity... it just makes things more interesting.

PortableHal
02-06-2009, 04:18 AM
In a perfect world, it shouldn't matter if your book has romance in it or not. At least, that's what I think.

However, lately I'm beginning to think that fiction aimed toward a female market had best include some romance. Three years ago, I pitched a paranormal YA thriller that had a strong romantic subplot -- and I had an agent at a major agency within two weeks (and seven of the ten agents I pitched asked for a partial or a full). When the book didn't sell, my agent disappeared and I fired her.

My new paranormal YA thriller also has a female lead but absolutely no romance. I think it's a much, much better book but agency interest in looking at the manuscript has been underwhelming.

Joycecwilliams
02-17-2009, 05:38 PM
Opinions, please.
To be successful/acceptable/saleable, does a story have to include a romantic/sexual relationship between (either) major or minor characters?

You described a charcter, not a plot. What is the theme of of the book. What is the message you are giving? I think that is more important than if the character is having a sexual or any other type of relationship.

brainstorm77
02-18-2009, 12:49 AM
depends if it works and adds to the story line.

She_wulf
02-18-2009, 09:27 AM
Yes, if it was also about something interesting.

'I don't have a guy and I take out my own garbage' isn't interesting. 'I'm teaching English in Istanbul and I don't have a guy' is.
It may be interesting but it isn't a complete plot idea. To have a complete plot, there must be inciting incident, rising action, climactic moment, and falling action.

So,

Jane paranormal gets kidnapped by witch slavers and hunky Warlock hero rides to the rescue is a complete plot. It's cheesy, but complete.

Jane paranormal doesn't need a man in her life. Isn't a complete plot.

Jane paranormal gets kidnapped by witch slavers, works to free herself and Joe hunky warlock who's inept at helping himself is a complete plot. AND it is a tad more interesting because you could make the good-looker be a bumbler which creates an external foil for uber-cool Jane paranormal.

Hope that helps.

Amy

Hildreth J. Little
03-10-2009, 07:46 AM
Thank you all for your comments! My protagonist is a co-dependent woman who is compelled by circumstances to begin an entirely new and different life and finds that she has the strength to do what she needs to do.
Thanks again for your time and efforts to respond to my question, HJL

djunamod
08-12-2016, 06:07 AM
I know this is an old thread but I'll respond anyway. I would definitely read a novel about a strong woman that doesn't have her entangled in a romantic relationship. In fact, I constantly am looking for fiction like this (not necessarily in the women's fiction category either). I personally like relationship-based stories BUT not romantic ones. For example, stories that focus heavily on family relationships (that is, with parents, siblings, children without a man in the picture) can be very fascinating, sometimes more so than romantic relationships because they can sidestep the more conventional development of romance that most of us are all to familiar with from personal life and from romance cliches in books, films, etc. I also like fiction with female friendships in the picture (but not the kind that chick-lit tends to favor where the main focus is on how to help a friend land a man).

My writing usually doesn't include a romantic relationship, though I've been noticing lately that it does include often times tension or attraction between male-female characters that doesn't develop into romance or sex. Part of that is a personal preference (I don't feel comfortable writing about sex - let me just put that out there) and part of it is that I'm much more interested in the psychological aspects of relationships and the kind of sensual tension (not sexual "want to jump your bones" kind of physicality) that can develop between two people attracted to one another than the actual concrete and physical relationship.

Djuna

TECarter
08-19-2016, 11:15 PM
I would actually PREFER a book without a romantic subplot. Whether it would sell is a different question.

Roxxsmom
08-19-2016, 11:28 PM
Opinions, please.
To be successful/acceptable/saleable, does a story have to include a romantic/sexual relationship between (either) major or minor characters?

It depends on the genre and on the story. Romance novels obviously require them, and romantic subplots are pretty common in many other genres. They often show up in fantasy and SF where the story takes place over enough time for characters to plausibly develop such attachments. Some writers (Joe Abercrombie and George RR Martin) put a twist on the trope by having the relationships end badly more often than not. I suspect that romantic arcs can feel forced in some kinds of stories. For instance, a romance might feel forced and out of place in a tightly paced stories that take place over a few hours during some kind of crisis, or stories that take place mostly in a single-gender environment where same-sex romances are taboo (and not desired by the target reader demographic).

Personally, I love romantic arcs and don't come up with ideas for novels that don't contain at least one such subplot very often (I tend to prefer plots that take place over longer periods of time, and my experience with humans is that they tend to develop romantic attachments when given half a chance, and romance creates interesting stakes and tension, and also provides an avenue for personal growth and happiness for characters of all genders and orientations), but I've certainly read plenty of SFF novels where other kinds of relationships are the main focus. CJ Cherryh, for instance, wrote SF novels where no one got involved with anyone "on camera." Other kinds of relationships can be interesting aspects of character development too.

So no, I don't think they're always required for a novel to be sold or successful, and they might even be forced in some kinds of stories, but their absence would be more conspicuous in some situations than others.

Ari Meermans
08-20-2016, 12:51 AM
It depends on the genre and on the story. Romance novels obviously require them, and romantic subplots are pretty common in many other genres. They often show up in fantasy and SF where the story takes place over enough time for characters to plausibly develop such attachments. Some writers (Joe Abercrombie and George RR Martin) put a twist on the trope by having the relationships end badly more often than not. I suspect that romantic arcs can feel forced in some kinds of stories. For instance, a romance might feel forced and out of place in a tightly paced stories that take place over a few hours during some kind of crisis, or stories that take place mostly in a single-gender environment where same-sex romances are taboo (and not desired by the target reader demographic).

Personally, I love romantic arcs and don't come up with ideas for novels that don't contain at least one such subplot very often (I tend to prefer plots that take place over longer periods of time, and my experience with humans is that they tend to develop romantic attachments when given half a chance, and romance creates interesting stakes and tension, and also provides an avenue for personal growth and happiness for characters of all genders and orientations), but I've certainly read plenty of SFF novels where other kinds of relationships are the main focus. CJ Cherryh, for instance, wrote SF novels where no one got involved with anyone "on camera." Other kinds of relationships can be interesting aspects of character development too.

So no, I don't think they're always required for a novel to be sold or successful, and they might even be forced in some kinds of stories, but their absence would be more conspicuous in some situations than others.[Emphasis mine]

^ And, really, that's the key: If romantic/sexual tension drives the underlying conflict that moves the story forward and provides the necessary subtext that mirrors or furthers the story arc, that's what you should go with. I recently betaed a wonderful novel wherein the sexual history of the protagonist and the antagonist provided the context for the current story and its denouement. There was also a romantic element between the protag and another character that never came to fruition. Those elements underscored the character arcs of both characters and enabled their growth through the novel. No HEA, but a most satisfying book nonetheless.