Would a Romance Novel by a male have a chance?

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MontyBurr

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I hope I’m not too forward to post this thread. I’m a new author and new to AW. I’ve enjoyed reading several of the threads in this topic and didn’t see this issue raised. Here goes:

As a “pantser” It seems I’ve written a 150k word novel. I can best describe it as a macabre love story with cooking as the common bond between my major characters. As I put it together, I found that the most interesting character was the woman. My revisions brought her forward as the main character. She has most of the emotional conflict.

I could split this to two books easily and think I should. Books three and four are in my head but…

If presented as an up-market women’s fiction piece, would it sell with a male author’s name? Should I change my pen name to Monti A. Burr instead of Monty? :Shrug:
 

Marian Perera

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As a “pantser” It seems I’ve written a 150k word novel. I can best describe it as a macabre love story with cooking as the common bond between my major characters.

I'm a bit confused. The title of your post said "romance novel", but later in the post you mention "up-market women’s fiction". The two aren't the same.

If you're planning to pitch your novel as a romance, the two vital questions are : Is the focus of the story a developing romantic relationship between the main characters? And does this end with the two of them happy together?

If you're planning to pitch your novel as women's fiction, then the focus of the story should be on the woman's journey.
 

frimble3

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As to the name thing, it might be easier to market either a romance or a woman's fiction story with a female name, or at least a gender neutral name.
Montea Burr ? M.A. Burr.
But, agreeing that you should first decide whether it's a 'Romance' HEA and all, or something else. 'Macabre' doesn't sound like a 'Romance', really.
 

yesandno

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I'm getting more of a Tom Robbins feel about this, as described, without any knowledge of the style. Obviously, he had no problems selling under a man's name. I think there are a lot of male writers who include romance prominently in their novels. I wouldn't think you'd need to promote/pitch it as women's fiction or romance specifically, as it might actually limit the potential market.
 

ap123

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Robert James Waller (Bridges of Madison County)
Nicholas Sparks

Then there are male romance novelists who use initials/unisex names, and I'm pretty sure there are at least a few successful husband/wife romance writing teams.

In other words, whether it's women's fiction or romance, yes.
 

cool pop

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Nicholas Sparks does not write romance. He writes love stories. There is a big difference. Love stories do not require HEA. Sparks has said repeatedly he doesn't write romance and it's true. A book has to have an HEA or HFN ending to be a romance.

As for people reading male romance novelists, some will and some won't touch a male author with a ten-foot pole. In fact, many romance readers prefer female authors. This is why male romance authors often use pen names. It's up to the author how they want to handle it but realize that there is a segment of romance readers who will bypass the book if they think the author is male.
 
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lizmonster

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Nicholas Sparks does not write romance. He writes love stories. There is a big difference. Love stories do not require HEA. Sparks has said repeatedly he doesn't write romance and it's true. A book has to have an HEA or HFN ending to be a romance.

For the same reason I wouldn't call Madison County a romance, either.
 

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Robert James Waller (Bridges of Madison County)
Nicholas Sparks

Neither of those write romances; love story ≠ romance.
 

CEtchison

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If presented as an up-market women’s fiction piece, would it sell with a male author’s name? Should I change my pen name to Monti A. Burr instead of Monty? :Shrug:

Why would you want a female pen name? Sell it as mainstream fiction and be done with it because that's what it is.

Only women authors who dare to write mainstream fiction are pigeon-holed into "women's fiction" because of cooties. lol
 

ElaineA

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Try Googling "male romance novel writers". There are many, some have won awards.

But first, as others have said, make 100% certain you're writing a romance. Because nothing will unleash the wrath of romance readers upon you faster than calling your book a romance if it's not. No matter the gender ID of your author-name.
 

MontyBurr

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Point Taken

Why would you want a female pen name? Sell it as mainstream fiction and be done with it because that's what it is.

Only women authors who dare to write mainstream fiction are pigeon-holed into "women's fiction" because of cooties. lol

Thanks to all for your input. As a first novelist, I wrote myself into vague genre.

I liked this response most of all. I’m very comfortable calling my beast a piece of mainstream fiction.

That’s seriously a load off the mind. Thanks, CEtchison!

I'll play down the romance and HFN and go with the prime plot and see where that goes.

I've got some other questions but I'll shift those to a more general topic.

Thanks again,

M.A. Burr
 

MontyBurr

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For the same reason I wouldn't call Madison County a romance, either.

I must take issue with you in part. If you refer to “The Bridges of Madison County”, I have no quarrel. :poke:

Madison County, Iowa is a romance. The county has a 300ft elevation difference. It rolls. No place on the planet as far inland as Madison County, Iowa receives as much rain. The soil of Madison County is black as night and smells good enough to eat without running it through a vegetable. After a few hot July days, the corn will chant after a rainstorm. All four seasons are troubling and rewarding to everyone.

The hot and humid summers drove me to Seattle. As I write this, December 12, 2018 was the gloomiest day in the past several years. (According to the U of W folks). Our day is 8 1/2 hours long. It’s great writing weather.
 

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Fascinating topic! As a man who writes both romances and love stories (as defined above), a lot of this resonates with me.

Most of my projects so far are told from the male point of view, usually in first person. I have no expectations of ever being published, but if the impossible should happen, I'd hope my stories appeal to both men and women. As such, I think I'd choose a gender-ambiguous pen name.

The hot and humid summers drove me to Seattle.
Greetings, fellow Seattleite! Well, technically, I'm in suburbia (Lynnwood/Edmonds); my wife is from the area, so that's how I ended up here 19 years ago. I love the weather - having grown up in New England and lived in Ohio for six years, I also had my share of hot and humid summers!
 

Spicyqueso

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I don't see a problem with you being a male in the genre personally but just like the others said, many readers may avoid a male writer writing romance because they think it may not fit what they are looking for. I know there are some very popular male authors who have written successful female characters and love stories. I think the key is the description. Initials are easy enough for your name if you're worried about it. If it is a romance novel, I would suggest breaking it into a few novels since 150,000 is quite large but it's up to you. Also, if it is romance, it will also have some kind of sex in it. If it does not, it is probably in another genre.
 

Marissa D

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Also, if it is romance, it will also have some kind of sex in it. If it does not, it is probably in another genre.

No. There's plenty of romance that does not contain sex, but is still very, very definitely romance--there's inspirational/Christian romance as well as what's called "sweet" or "clean" romance (terrible names, but they're what's used), and traditional Regency, to name a few sub-genres.
 

Laer Carroll

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I'm a male who loves romance novels, the HEA/HFN kind as defined by the RWA. I began reading them long ago when looking for ways to seduce women: find out what they like and fool them into thinking I'm it.

Unfortunately for that approach I discovered that women are people and have feelings which I respect and some of whom I admire. I'd no more seduce them under false pretenses than I'd cut off any part of me. So much for that seduction approach. Darn.

So now I read romances to make the acquaintance of women like the friends I have or have no longer because they've been lost to time and distance. To me one cannot have too many friends. I'm always ready to meet another one.

I avoid books written by writers with male names for one reason. Experience has shown me that too often the women don't feel real to me. I would not be surprised if some male writers write convincing women. I am not inalterably opposed to reading their books. But I long ago lost the patience to give them a chance.

So if I ever write a romance I'll submit under the pen name Elle Carroll, not Laer Carroll.
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There are male romance writers, but most still publish under feminine or gender neutral names. I think this is a marketing decision, as the target audience for genre romances are women. The types of romantic fantasies and the types of relationship dynamics portrayed in genre romance novels are catered to women (though about 16% of romance readers are men, according to the RWA website). I imagine there might be a similar bias against male-sounding names for women's fiction. Maybe the bias in favor of female writers is because in other genres, even with more and more women writing them, the default perspective is still assumed to be male and often are written with a strong male gaze (even when there are female pov characters).

As others have already said, romance and women's fiction aren't the same thing. Also, there are many, many, many novels in other genres (including ones aimed more at a male audience) that have romantic subplots, and plenty where the love story is front and center. Not all love stories are genre romances. Consider whether or not your novel really is a genre romance (reading a large number of successful novels in that genre will be helpful here), but if it is, then give it a shot.
 

morngnstar

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As to the name thing, it might be easier to market either a romance or a woman's fiction story with a female name, or at least a gender neutral name.
Montea Burr ? M.A. Burr.

I don't want to do this. I am also a male attempting to write a romance novel. I could call it a "love story", but it pretty much fits the category of romsnce, and I don't see why I should be ashamed to classify it as such.

But my name doesn't abbreviate well. And I think full first and last would fit very nicely on a book cover (both five letters or less). I'd feel wrong about using a female name. It's not a macho thing. It feels deceptive to women who want to read books by women. If that's their preference they don't have to read my book. It doesn't seem fair to take sales away from women writers. And it also sells my gender short, perpetuating the stereotype that men can't write romance and discouraging future hopeful male romance writers.
 

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