No, it isn’t a cheesy pick-up line. I’m talking about romance novel cover models. I’m starting to see the same faces on the romance novels I’m reading over and over again. Now, I’m not unsympathetic to the plight of indie romance authors. I realize that there are only so many stock photos and cover models in the world, and that sharing models is often necessary. A truly “exclusive” image of a hot dude that hasn’t been on a million other covers is tough to come by. But...is it getting out of hand? For example, there’s THIS guy…
I used to be an incredibly open-minded reader. I’d read just about anything and not much bothered me. But as I’ve gotten older, I’m finding that I have way more “line in the sand” moments while reading now than I ever had in the past. And by “line in the sand”, I mean stuff that I just will not tolerate. There are a few things that’ll make me DNF a book so fast your head will spin. (And if I do somehow manage to finish the book, you can bet it won’t be getting a 5-star rating from yours truly) Listed in no particular order, those things are:
I’m a voracious reader. I read probably 5 or 6 books a week, and most of them are romance. So, when I say I never want to read a certain phrase again, I REALLY mean it, because I’ve probably seen it approximately a gazillion times before. If all you fabulous romance authors out there could help me out with this, I’d really appreciate it. Please and thank you.
So, we all know about those unsavory pirate sites that take an author’s hard work and give it away for free (along with all manner of computer STDs) to naive readers who don’t realize they’re stealing, right? Then, of course, there are those of you who might realize you’re stealing, but think that the use of pirate sites is justified because you’re poor. But these days, there are really no excuses that justify stealing a Kindle romance when there are TONS of places to get totally legit copies at no charge (and without all the nasty computer syphilis you pick up from the pirate sites). Don’t believe me? Well, you’re in for a real treat:
If you want to get a group of authors to argue about something, ask them what they think about trigger warnings. Trust us: the debate will get feisty, and at least a few authors will storm off in disgust.
If you’re at all like us, you take a quick peek at book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads before buying a book. Now, of course, reviews aren’t the only factor to consider when choosing a read. There are also covers, blurbs, and sample chapters to consider. But we’d be lying (and you probably would be, too) if you said you weren’t ever influenced by online book reviews. The sad thing is, fake book reviews have become a real thing these days. And we’re not even really talking about the fact that authors can pay for fake reviews and often get their friends and family members to write reviews for them. (Amazon is working on that issue, so we’re not really going to address it here) We’re talking about reviews that were written by trolls who probably haven’t even read the book and are only reviewing it out of some kind of malicious intent. Who are these people who have nothing better to do than savage authors online in the hopes of making themselves feel more important? Well, we’re glad you asked.
I did a little experiment the other day. Nothing too scientific, because, you know, science is very...science-y and mysterious. But I took a somewhat non-scientific stroll through the best selling romance novels on Amazon and found that romance novel covers can be divided into a few very distinct categories:
Look, we’ve made it clear that we’re not big fans of Kindle Unlimited. It’s great in theory, but the system is broken—so broken that it’s unclear at this point if it can even be fixed. And one symptom of the broken system that keeps popping up over and over again is the “stuffed” book.
What’s a stuffed book? Glad you asked.
I’m a proud romance reader. Have been since the olden days when Fabio was all over the place and consent wasn’t always as...consent-y as we’d like it to be. (OK, I wasn’t as proud of reading those novels as I am of the novels that are out today, but you get my point.) And romance novels have come sooooooo far since then. There are so many great examples of empowering romance reads that I could talk all day on the subject and never run out of material. So imagine my surprise when I read a study showing that in 2017, the romance genre actually got LESS diverse than it was in prior years.
OK, y’all, I am on an epically bad book streak. I’ve failed to finish so many books lately that I’m starting to get a complex about it. (Is it me? Are these books really good and I’m the only one in the world who doesn’t love them? What’s wrong with me that I hate these books that everyone else seems to love? What if I never read another great book again? GAH!!!) So, here I am, humbly asking all you romance readers out there to help me out. What are YOU reading and loving right now? Here’s what I’m hoping you’ll have for me:
In looking through the search terms that have brought folks to the Romance Rehab site over the past few months, I have to say that I was kind of surprised. I figured the biggest draws would be our Friday “best of” list posts, or the 5-star reviews page, or even our author interviews. And while those pages have garnered a good bit of attention, (a great big thank you to all of you who visit those pages regularly! *big wave and smile*) there’s a slew of searches from people looking for free copies of books. Not books that are on sale or offering giveaways, mind you. These folks are looking for pirate book sites that offer free copies of an author’s work without that author’s permission.
A romance novel’s blurb is one of the main things I look at before I decide whether or not to 1-click. Sure, I look at the cover and I glance at reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but nothing scares me off a book faster than a bad blurb. If I don’t like the blurb, I won’t even read sample chapters. Why bother? In my experience (which is vast--scarily vast, like the frozen Russian tundra, people), if the blurb sucks, the book will, too. So, what constitutes a good blurb versus a bad blurb? Well, here are a few red flags I’ve found in romance novel blurbs that almost always indicate the book will suck ass (authors, please take note):
Even though Hillary Clinton might not agree, romance novels have come a long way since 1972’s The Flame and the Flower. You don’t often seen heroes raping heroines these days. (Thank God) There are strong female role models all over the genre in just about every romance category. But there’s one thing that was common in the romance novels of the seventies that you still find a lot of today, and that’s virgins.
There aren’t really any prejudices that are socially acceptable anymore. It’s not OK to discriminate against anyone because of their gender, race, religious and cultural beliefs, or sexual orientation, and that’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. Yet so many people see nothing wrong with openly criticising an entire genre of fiction, or with side-eyeing that genre’s fans and asking why they don’t read something more worthy of their time. That’s right, I’m (still) talking about the romance novel stigma.
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