What Do You Think?

What do you think?

A new monthly featured blog from Authors On The Air Global Radio Network.

The Evolution of Romance

Something’s afoot in the romance genre leaving many to wonder if the time is right to introduce a ratings system used by all publishers. Decades ago, a reader could identify which books they wanted to read in this genre by analyzing a book cover and reading the blurb. As times have changed, so has the genre. From new adult to erotica, there are more choices in this genre than ever before in both digital and print.

The latest trend is adding extremely graphic content into novels that, at first glance, appear to be sweet contemporary romance titles. These novels have covers that blend right in with the genre, depicting the love interests in nature settings, small town streets, etc. The blurb supports the cover image, as well, yet nothing indicates that after the plot is exposed and the reader is enjoying the story, the love interests will have sexual relations that are explicit and considered erotic. This leaves the unsuspecting reader with a feeling of discomfort and betrayal. The far-reaching implications of this very intentional delivery of content by publishers is that the reader is now not sure how to navigate the world of romance the next time they search for a book.

Make no mistake, the publishers putting out these books are aware that the content isn’t what the reader is expecting, and are counting on the fact that the reader will feel invested in the story enough to continue reading, but after speaking with other romance writers, as well as readers that are familiar with this genre, that isn’t happening.   While some publishers have attempted to add a heat index rating as a way for readers to select stories, not all have.

 Is the solution then to create a ratings system similar to movie ratings for all books in this genre? Many bloggers have long speculated that this is a much-needed way to match readers to stories, but it continues to be a very controversial topic. Authors argue that a ratings system will put their books in a certain niche that might not attract new readers if the rating is considered too high or low for the story. Others feel that readers are capable of selecting new material on their own, without any additional information, and can simply put a book down that they don’t like. While these arguments are valid, don’t we owe it to readers to be as up front as possible? Tricking readers into new content is not the way to go when trying to create a brand or following. Romance readers make up one of the largest and loyal fan bases in the world. Don’t they deserve the information to choose books in an accurate and honest manner?

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