Why you shouldn’t EVER try to convince me your women’s fiction novel is romance
I’ve seen lots of misclassified books on Amazon lately. LOTS. OF. THEM. I don’t know if Amazon is shifting these books around erroneously, or if the authors/publishers are making mistakes, but whatever the case may be, I’m sick of it. I want to read romance novels. If I wanted to read women’s fiction, I’d go find some women’s fiction to read. There’s nothing wrong with women’s fiction, but it’s NOT romance.
Sometimes I think maybe authors/publishers see how well romance sells and try to sneak some women’s fiction past us, marketing it as romance, so that they can get a piece of the ginormous money-maker that is romance publishing. But I can tell you readers and authors this with all sincerity: Intentionally misclassifying your book is the quickest way to get added to my “never read” list. And trust me when I say there’s no way off that list. Once banned, always banned.
So, with that in mind, here’s the difference between romance novels, and women’s fiction.
In a romance novel, the central theme is the romance/romantic relationship between the main characters. It doesn’t matter how many other characters you have in the book, or whatever kind of life events they’re struggling through, if the central theme is the romance between the hero and heroine (or hero and hero/heroine and heroine...whatever. Romance doesn’t discriminate), AND there’s a happily ever after (HEA) of happy for now (HFN) ending, the book is a romance. That definition applies to all categories: paranormal, romantic suspense, contemporary, new adult, historical, etc.
Women’s fiction novels
Women’s fiction is about more than a central romance. The purpose of women’s fiction is to show the female life journey. It’s all about a woman—or group of women—dealing with and overcoming whatever life throws at them. Women’s fiction might contain romantic elements—meaning, the heroine might have a love interest or two. The books might even have a HEA or HFN. But it’s not a requirement.
And by the way, sex scenes don’t determine ANYTHING
If you think a book is romance because it includes on-the-page sex scenes, you’re wrong. Women’s fiction can contain sex scenes, and romance novels might not contain any sex at all. The inclusion or exclusion of sex should not be taken into account when you’re trying to determine if a book is women’s fiction or romance.
Also, it doesn't have to be fluffy to be romance
If you’re thinking that a women’s fiction novel is more “serious” and “emotional” than a romance...well, hate to tell you, but you’re wrong again. You can have a romance novel with dark, gritty, emotional themes, where the heroine grows tremendously as a character, just as easily as you can have a women’s fiction novel that’s light, hysterically funny, and not all that emotionally deep.
So, to recap, I would ask all authors out there to do us a readers a solid and think about what you’ve actually written before you determine how to market it. Please and thanks.
And just for funsies, here are some awesome women’s fiction novels. They are NOT romance novels, even if some of them contain a few romantic themes.
Anything you’d like to say on the matter? Let’s discuss!!