AAR
Click here for full forums index
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 
 
Hilarious titles (or are they?)
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    AAR Forum Index -> Romance Potpourri Forum
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
bbmedos



Joined: 26 Sep 2007
Posts: 274
Location: Western Kentucky, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The genre is so diverse, aimed at so many different kinds of readers, that most of us are going to find certain aspects of some segments of it off-putting. Or insulting. Or just plain horrifying. But what's off-putting to one reader often has exactly the opposite effect on another.


I think is what most people, even those who actually read and enjoy the genre, do miss. This is one huge genre. The numbers compared to others are simply mind-boggling.

And yet . . .

Who actually buys those books?

No, I'm serious. It's like they are thiefs in the night. I know the books go somewhere because everyone says they sell but I've been reading romance for a long, long time and I know only one other person who actively reads, collects and keeps category romances for any length of time. And she's been doing it since before I was born. I don't even want to think about how many books she's gone through. How many she may still have stored somewhere. Shocked

Now, I doubt there are as many longterm readers who stuck with the subscriptions as long as she has, which is where I'm sure she still gets them, but think about it. The majority can't be selling from the stores and that's probably where we, the online crowd, is making the mistake of thinking those titles make or break the sales at point of purchase. Because the major market for them probably isn't having to make that decision anyway.

They're being hand delivered to them like magazines.
_________________
Bev(BB)
http://bevsbooks.com/notes/
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Karen Templeton



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 298

PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually...the majority ARE being sold in stores -- Walmart, K-Mart, grocery stores, drug stores. Don't know about Presents (which, BTW, sells much better here than in England, simply because the market is larger) and how large their subscription base is. But I do know from SSE...and I can tell you my North American retail sales are at least five times more than my subscription sales (which vary from month to month, depending on whether my book goes into the "everybody gets it" pile or the "only half the subscribers get it" pile. Rolling Eyes

And while a lot of brick and mortar chains don't sell romance much at all -- and certainly not category, pee-yew -- Waldenbooks has always done very well by series romance.

So, yeah, people are buying series romance. In stores and online, not only by subscription. And God bless 'em for it!

Karen T.
http://www.karentempleton.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
MarianneM



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 374
Location: Houston, Texas

PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 9:16 pm    Post subject: Category Romances Reply with quote

Friends ... Let's not fall victim to the very thing we object to in the holier-than-thou set of reviewers we have talked about here... condemning a whole sub-genre because of some horrendous examples.

Some category romances are pedestrian, some are pretty awful -- and some are little gems in their own right. I'm one of those terrible persons mentioned above who do save good books, whether they're category romances, mystery stories, thrillers or various other genres. My only rule is that they be well written, well plotted and a pleasure to read and reread.

Jenny Crusie once pointed out in an essay on this subject, that category romances, because of their numerous and stringent restrictions, are difficult to write well -- rather like writing a good sonnet. But when either the sonnet or the category romance is really creative, really moving, really well-done, they are works of art.

Those are the category romances I keep on my Keeper shelves.

I hope you do too.

MarianneM
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1375

PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I buy mostly by author, completely ignoring titles except to check whether I already have books. I have quite a few category romances in my shelves, including some with silly titles along the lines being discussed here.
I’ve been submitting titles for the 1,001 romances list at RT mentioned on the RTR board, and a couple have been category books. There are definitely some very good ones out there.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbmedos wrote:
Who actually buys those books?

No, I'm serious. It's like they are thiefs in the night. I know the books go somewhere because everyone says they sell but I've been reading romance for a long, long time and I know only one other person who actively reads, collects and keeps category romances for any length of time. And she's been doing it since before I was born. I don't even want to think about how many books she's gone through. How many she may still have stored somewhere.


My experience is similar to yours, Bbmedos. I see lots of Harlequin-Mills&Boon books at the bookstore, but I know only one person who reads and collects them--and she has also been doing it since long before I was born! Laughing She also reads non-Category Romances (do we have a collective term for them?) but Category Romances are her first and most enduring love.

Karen Templeton wrote:
The gals in their motorized carts who dump every Presents into their basket (according to the Andersen rep who keeps me apprised of who buys what) are more likely to fit into the "typical" romance reader stereotype than not. I get plenty of fan letters from women whose language skills are far below the average participant in this forum, whose book buying habits aren't in the least influenced by reviews or reader discussions online. However, neither are these readers likely to feel insulted, either by the dumbed-down packaging or the disparaging remarks about their reading choices, because their world and "that" world rarely, if ever, coincide.


That's true. I do see women browsing Harlequins at the bookstore, but we move in different circles and I guess make up hugely different demographics. In fact, the only reason I'm reasonably acquainted with the lady I mentioned above is that she is the aunt of one of my friends--a friend who completely ignores the hundreds of Category Romances in their home because she reads non-Category books. They're like ships that dock at the same port but never next to each other. Laughing

MarianneM wrote:
Friends ... Let's not fall victim to the very thing we object to in the holier-than-thou set of reviewers we have talked about here... condemning a whole sub-genre because of some horrendous examples.

Some category romances are pedestrian, some are pretty awful -- and some are little gems in their own right. I'm one of those terrible persons mentioned above who do save good books, whether they're category romances, mystery stories, thrillers or various other genres. My only rule is that they be well written, well plotted and a pleasure to read and reread.

Jenny Crusie once pointed out in an essay on this subject, that category romances, because of their numerous and stringent restrictions, are difficult to write well -- rather like writing a good sonnet. But when either the sonnet or the category romance is really creative, really moving, really well-done, they are works of art.


I think that is a brilliant point! In fact, I think sonnets make a perfect parallel. Back when everyone was writing sonnets (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?) perhaps 95% of what was out there was dross. Yet occasionally a great poet would come along and produce a masterpiece.

What frustrates me about critics who disparage the Romance genre is that what they don't like about it is what I love about it. They say that it's the same story over and over again--and in a way, it is--but when a talented author can use the same strict conventions to create something original and amazing, that is as much a skill as the kinds of writing that do earn critical acclaim. It's a different kind of writing skill, but it deserves just as much recognition.
_________________
"To be in a romance is to be in uncongenial surroundings. To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings, hence to be born into a romance." (G.K. Chesterton)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
veasleyd1



Joined: 02 Dec 2007
Posts: 2064

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 6:01 am    Post subject: Re: Category Romances Reply with quote

MarianneM wrote:
Friends ... Let's not fall victim to the very thing we object to in the holier-than-thou set of reviewers we have talked about here... condemning a whole sub-genre because of some horrendous examples.

Some category romances are pedestrian, some are pretty awful -- and some are little gems in their own right. I'm one of those terrible persons mentioned above who do save good books, whether they're category romances, mystery stories, thrillers or various other genres. My only rule is that they be well written, well plotted and a pleasure to read and reread.

Jenny Crusie once pointed out in an essay on this subject, that category romances, because of their numerous and stringent restrictions, are difficult to write well -- rather like writing a good sonnet. But when either the sonnet or the category romance is really creative, really moving, really well-done, they are works of art.

Those are the category romances I keep on my Keeper shelves.

I hope you do too.

MarianneM



I have a lot (as in about four boxes full) of category/series romances on my keeper shelves. Janice Kay Johnson, who mainly writes for SuperRomance, is an auto-buy for me. I think that Justine Davis' Trinity Street West series are among the best contemporaries that have been written.

A Rose for Maggie is a superb study of a somewhat older couple with complications (the heroine's daughter has Down's Syndrome). Of recent books, I think Linda Barrett's The Soldier and the Rose (in Harlequin's Everlasting Love series) was superb.

IMHO, many of the books put out in these series, some with weird titles and some without, are better than many of the "single title" books a person finds on the romance section in bookstores.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Elizabeth Rolls



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1079
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Not sure if I'm remembering correctly from that discussion but the market for those books was not the USA and never has been, if that makes a difference.


I don't think you can be remembering correctly because "Harlequin Presents" is the marketing label for the USA. In the UK it is labelled under Mills & Boon Modern Romance and here in Australia (and over the ditch in Kiwi Land), Sexy. And it sells a LOT of books in the USA. As well as here and in the UK.

Karen T has it spot on with her take on marketing. The line is a huge seller and always has been and the readers are wildly diverse. In fact, I seem to remember that LLB did an ATBF column a couple of years back specifically on the guilty pleasures of Presents - she's a fan as I recall.

The books have always been over the top, focusing on glamorous and wealthy settings - because that is what the readers want and expect. For some it's the ultimate fantasy. Or one of their ultimate fantasies - some of us have several!

Everyone's tastes are different. Let me put it this way - I am not prepared to look down my nose at someone who enjoys Presents. It ticks me off too much when someone looks down his/her nose at me for enjoying let alone writing romance. Like one relative who considers what I do to be intellectual prostitution and wonders why I don't write a "real" book Rolling Eyes. This strikes me as the same sort of thing. If you don't enjoy the books, well, fine. You aren't the market.

Anyway I enjoy quite a few Presents authors. Sure they're over the top, but that's the fun bit. The titles are schlocky, but they sell the books. Heck, if I had the right voice I'd write them myself. I'd make at least twice what I do per book writing Regencies. My husband would be delighted . . . However I'm one of those sad creatures whose idea of great technology is an antique nutmeg grater that leaves your fingers intact. I'm probably staying with historicals Very Happy

Elizabeth
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
bbmedos



Joined: 26 Sep 2007
Posts: 274
Location: Western Kentucky, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elizabeth Rolls wrote:
I don't think you can be remembering correctly because "Harlequin Presents" is the marketing label for the USA. In the UK it is labelled under Mills & Boon Modern Romance and here in Australia (and over the ditch in Kiwi Land), Sexy. And it sells a LOT of books in the USA. As well as here and in the UK.


It's entirely possible that the discussion I'm remembering was about the Mills & Boon lines and not the American ones anyway and the relative differences between the markets. At some point the I (Heart) Presents blog came into it though because that's when and where I became aware of that blog. I do know that much.

And just in case anyone has any mistaken impressions, I have a lot of category romances still on my keeper shelves. I don't look down on them. In some ways I still prefer their size to single titles. For their size, I've always thought they were better written overall. They have to be because it's not what you put in but what you take out that counts.

All I'm really questioning about the numbers, and always have, is how they sell that big when a) a lot of people don't even see the books in the stores and b) we never see the people with them either - in stores or out of stores. And, yet, everytime I ask I'm emphatically told subscriptions aren't the answer either. They have to be moving from point a to point b somehow.

Like I said, theifs in the night.

It's not that I don't believe but I'm kind of like Mulder. The truth is out there. Somewhere. I just ain't quite found it yet. Wink

Maybe it's a combination of all of the above more than anyone realizes.

What I really don't think the average reader understands about subscriptions with category lines is how they work to begin with. I'm sitting here trying to refresh my memory and drawing a blank. Especially considering this completely confuses me:

Quote:
my North American retail sales are at least five times more than my subscription sales (which vary from month to month, depending on whether my book goes into the "everybody gets it" pile or the "only half the subscribers get it" pile.


I thought there was pretty much a completely different set of authors every month in the batches sent out in subscriptions. Isn't that the entire point of having so many authors available for variety? Or have things truly changed that much?

The other thing I'm wondering about is how this is all tracked in terms of statistics for the author when they are part of a subscription service. If their books aren't going out every single month, do they get to count those sales when their books aren't in the group?

Edited to add: I reread what I asked and realized it sounded like I completely misinterpreted what she said about how the books go out in different batches. I didn't. But I also don't understand if/how that's different from the way they used to send out every single book in a line to subscribers. Has that stopped?
_________________
Bev(BB)
http://bevsbooks.com/notes/
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
bathsheba



Joined: 12 Apr 2007
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a fascinating discussion. I think that the beauty of the romance genre is that it appeals to every woman: rich, poor, educated or not, we all want to read an enjoyable romance with heroes we can fall in love with and heroines we can relate to.

I've been a Mills and Boon reader for so long, I can't remember a time when I didn't read them. I buy mostly by author rather than series, and to be honest, a book could be called The Greek Tycoon's Alien Baby and the Exotic Space Ship, I'd still buy it if it was written by one of my favourite writers. Sure, the titles are shlocky, but they sell books and thus keep an addict like me happily reading.

Oh, and Elizabeth, I love your historicals, so I hope you keep on writing them for a very, very, very long time!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Maggie AAR
Site Admin


Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2489

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that many are purchased at the value store level. I know most bookstores in my area don't carry the Harlequin books but Walmart, Target and Shopko all carry them. And at discount prices too! Anyway, by the end of the month most of those books are gone so I think a lot of the books may be sold that way.

As for why, I think this ties into the fantasy element Dick talks about in romance. To me, many of these books seem to fit a particular type of day dream -- a single mom who just happens to meet the well off man of her dreams who manages to bond with her kids ("Four Little Problems") or the Sheik books which often have an alpha male to the rescue feel.

And some are just darn good -- Janice Kay Johnson and Kathryn Shay are two that I have really enjoyed. I would agree that the volume often makes it hard to find the gold in the haystack but I would imagine that my hay is someone elses gold and vice versa.

maggie b.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Karen Templeton



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 298

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bev -- a subscriber doesn't have to get all the books in the line. She can opt for four, six or (in the case of Presents) all eight. Authors are lined up every month, from the top slot to the last. For instance, you'd always see Diana Palmer or Sherryl Woods or Linda Lael Miller in the top slot, and a brand new author at the bottom. That means absolutely nothing to readers, BTW, since the books are rarely shelved with any regard to numerical sequence. What it does mean, however, is that the more toward the top your slot, the more bookclubs you get into.

In a six-book lineup, for instance, the top two books per month go to ALL the subscribers. The remaining books go to all the six-book subscribers, obviously, but the four-book subscribers only get two out of the four remaining titles. So they divide them up. Hence the fluctuating numbers, at least in part -- I was always in the top two slots in SIM the last couple of years I wrote for them, and all I could do was shake my head at how widely the subscription numbers varied. Some months were pretty sweet, others...not so much. :roll:

But subscription sales have fallen way off, anyway, over the past ten or so years. Used to be you'd hear phenomenal figures for subscription -- like in the 100K range, for some lines -- but no more. Since there's so much discounting at retail these days, it's often cheaper for readers to buy their books at, say, Wal-mart than to subscribe. And they can also pick and choose, rather than getting some books they might not want to read.

So retail sales in stores are still very, very strong -- perhaps not as strong as they used to be, either, but still respectable enough that an author writing for one of the more popular lines can expect to see retail numbers higher than many mid-list single title authors. And that's without large print, or e-book, or bookclub sales figured in.

Our readers may be invisible, but they buy a heckuva lot of books.
Laughing

Karen T.
http://www.karentempleton.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
SweetOne



Joined: 08 Apr 2008
Posts: 52
Location: My Desk

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read several of the Harlequin type books. If I happen to be shopping, I almost always peruse the book section. For the Harlequin, Desire, etc, I read the synopsis on the back before I decide to buy the book or not. One of my best friends will read nothing but Harlequin, Desire, and similar books. After reading a few b/c of her recommendation, I realized some were very well written, wonderful stories, even though the title was bizarre.

Variety is the spice of life. :)

~S
_________________
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 3:14 am    Post subject: Re: Hilarious titles (or are they?) Reply with quote

sandilib wrote:
At first I really believed it was a joke, but apparently no, these are truly REAL titles. I simply cannot get over these, and I had to share:

- Forbidden: The Billionaire's Virgin Princess (Harlequin Presents) by Lucy Monroe
- Hired: The Sheikh's Secretary Mistress Harlequin Presents) by Lucy Monroe
- The Billionaire Boss's Secretary Bride (Harlequin Presents) by Helen Brooks
- The Italian Billionaire's Pregnant Bride (Harlequin Presents) by Lynne Graham
- The Sheikh's Blackmailed Mistress (Harlequin Presents) by Penny Jordan

AND SO MANY MORE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ????????????????????????????? THAT GOT PUBLISHED RECENTLY !!!!!!!

Sorry, but I just can't believe it ! It boggles the mind, and I would cry if I did not find these titles so funny (probably not the result intended by the publisher...).


On a related note . . .

I may not grimace, but I do cringe at some titles on non-Category Romances. Maybe it's just two years of teaching Dante's Inferno taking their toll, but when words like Devil, Demon or Sin are in the title, I have to push myself to give even the synopsis a chance. Confused

For me, those words belong more in the title of a Morality Play than in the title of a Romance. So instead of feeling reassured by a "key" word, I get turned off. (Then, when I do read the book and the hero doesn't turn out to be devilish enough, I get disappointed! Laughing )

bathsheba wrote:
I've been a Mills and Boon reader for so long, I can't remember a time when I didn't read them. I buy mostly by author rather than series, and to be honest, a book could be called The Greek Tycoon's Alien Baby and the Exotic Space Ship, I'd still buy it if it was written by one of my favourite writers. Sure, the titles are shlocky, but they sell books and thus keep an addict like me happily reading.


I have to wonder just how much weight the title carries. Bathsheba, you say that you can overlook the title if it's by one of your favourite authors. Maybe other readers are the same; or maybe they overlook the titles because of the Harlequin or Mills & Boon or Sexy brand on the cover.

After the tip from Bbmedos, I went over to the I Heart Presents blog to check out what they had to say about their titles. The discussion was about how words like "Billionaire" and "Virgin" are part of a Presents "code." The title is meant to be something reassuring--like putting "homemade" before cookies, even if the buyer is already well aware that the cookies were baked at home. (There is a Marketing term for this, but I can't remember it.)

Does that mean that a Presents title by a well-loved author, with all the code words in the synopsis, featuring a cover worth a thousand words (i.e. we can see the Parthenon in the background), but a more neutral title like "Mediterranean Magic" (I came up with that one on my own! Rolling Eyes Laughing ) would suffer in terms of sales?

I don't mean to be disparaging. I'm honestly curious, since I, too, don't decide to read something based on its title, but do find titles with familiar words reassuring. (All the "Magic" and "Dream" words in Lisa Kleypas, for instance.)
_________________
"To be in a romance is to be in uncongenial surroundings. To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings, hence to be born into a romance." (G.K. Chesterton)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Elizabeth Rolls



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1079
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Maybe other readers are the same; or maybe they overlook the titles because of the Harlequin or Mills & Boon or Sexy brand on the cover.


That's the idea, Schola. The HM&B strategy with the category lines is very much that they are selling a brand name. Then the author may also be a brand name, Robyn Donald, Kate Walker, Helen Bianchin, Carole Mortimer to name some well known, long-term writers for Presents. I guess the title is also a brand guiding readers to virgin secretaries, secret babies and Greek tycoons etc.

Quote:
Does that mean that a Presents title by a well-loved author, with all the code words in the synopsis, featuring a cover worth a thousand words (i.e. we can see the Parthenon in the background), but a more neutral title like "Mediterranean Magic" (I came up with that one on my own! ) would suffer in terms of sales?


Quite likely. If you look back at titles from the eighties and seventies, they used to use more romantic, poetic titles like that. I guess though that even those titles blur into one another after a while. The point with the Greek Billionaire type of title is that they (usually) tell the reader exactly what she's getting. Combined with the author and brand name that's enough to sell the book. Speaking for myself I'd buy anything with Robyn Donald's name on it even if I didn't think it was my week for a Prince and his virgin secretary. Very Happy And that's not just because she once persuaded me to buy a very expensive pair of shoes that are still my absolute favourites. Smile She also persuades me to kick off my shoes and escape into fantasy land for a couple of hours at the end of which I can sigh happily and wonder where MY Prince is hiding, and if I should hop on a plane to New Zealand on the off-chance that Robyn is right and they're all hanging out there.

Elizabeth
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
veasleyd1



Joined: 02 Dec 2007
Posts: 2064

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 5:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

maggie b. wrote:
I think that many are purchased at the value store level. I know most bookstores in my area don't carry the Harlequin books but Walmart, Target and Shopko all carry them. And at discount prices too! Anyway, by the end of the month most of those books are gone so I think a lot of the books may be sold that way.
maggie b.


Locally, both Borders and B&N have Harlequins in end-display racks. Borders has them between two parts of the Romance section. B&N has them in between romance and other genre sections (one between romance and f/sf; one between romance and mystery).

The local Safeway doesn't carry them.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    AAR Forum Index -> Romance Potpourri Forum All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
Page 2 of 3

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group