Thursday, July 25, 2013

Can't we all just get along?

All of my life--since I was a nine year old scribbling in notebooks--I dreamt of being an author. I had grand visions of book signings across the country, advances that would enable me to splurge on a new car, and respect from my peers.

As an aspiring author attending writers' conferences, I got giggly and out of breath after meeting published authors, agents, and editors. When an editor or agent at a pitch session would ask me to send my completed manuscript, I'd barely conceal my glee until I could get somewhere alone and let it loose.    IT was happening...that feeling that all my dreams were about to come true.

The dream came true and you know what? I'll never forget that first YES that had me shaking uncontrollably and crying with happiness. After all that time, finally a YES, an offer of publication.  The feeling is indescribable. Bliss comes to mind. A rush of adrenaline so strong it's like spiking the ball after scoring a touchdown for the win.  

Yes, I feel a great sense of accomplishment after years of hard work spent reaching this place, but let's just say my rose colored glasses are not only off, they've been crushed. No, I'm not jaded. I still love writing more than anything else on the planet. I'm thrilled when I connect with readers or receive a great review. The sight of my published book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or iTunes makes me feel like, "yes, I did IT!"  But I was unprepared for the snobbery of the publishing world that comes not only from publishers, but reviewers, and, yes, fellow authors.  

A well respected review site that shall remain nameless contacted me saying they would "allow" me to submit a "request" for a review this week only because they were expanding to the romance genre. Along with the request, came a set of stipulations about the romance genre saying some of their members may not pick up my book for a long list of reasons--most of which are complete rubbish.  Of course their generous offer involved me sending in a free copy of my latest release, too, for the chance--the honor--of maybe being reviewed on their site if the description of my novel wasn't too shocking or cliche for them.  Hey, you guys, you contacted me

Romance is the highest selling genre of all fiction.  It is not cookie cutter or cliche.  Most of my fellow romance authors are extremely talented writers with brilliant, out of the box plots that will have you on the edge of your seat. Most genres--including sci fi, mystery, thrillers--have some romance in them. Whether people like to admit it or not, love is what it's all about at the end of the day. 

But that's not all...the snobbery also comes from within the genre, too, where erotic authors are snubbed by sweet romance authors and romantic suspense is snubbed by get the idea. It's like high school amplified to the world stage.  I say ENOUGH! I reject the idea and won't play.  

I worked hard to get here, which means I don't plan on giving it up very easily. It also means I will not tolerate being snubbed by a review site, fellow authors, or friends simply because I write romantic suspense.  I've spent hours honing my craft, going to workshops, reading, adapting, revising, plotting, tweaking...just like any author does.  

Also as an aspiring author, I had no idea the amount of time and energy I'd need to put into marketing myself. I had grand illusions that my publisher would pour money into launching my career., that's not the case. For anyone of any genre, that's not reality. Not in today's world anyway.  It's a full time job...a real job...and it's not for sissies.  Once you're published, you're tossed into the fray---you'd be right imagining the Hunger Games because that's what it feels like on some days.  

I'm not complaining--it is what it is. Hard work got me here and hard work will sustain me.  It's the snobbery that I was unprepared for--especially from fellow authors.  I once worked at a brokerage house where I spent my days looking over my shoulder, locking my desk when I went for a break, and not trusting anyone around me. I expected more from fellow authors, no matter what their genre.  

So far the readers have been not only receptive to my work, they've gone out of their way to write glowing reviews all over the place and nominate my books on Best of lists on Goodreads. That's who I'm writing for...the readers of romance. I'm writing for my audience who loves LOVE. Lucky for me, there are a lot of them out there. Like I mentioned before, romance is the highest selling genre.  So why the snobbery? Why the infighting? 

With writing, perhaps like nothing else, the work speaks for itself. I prefer helping other authors, regardless of genre, promote themselves because I respect the craft. If a reviewer doesn't like romance or has a bias toward it to begin, why would I want them reading my book just so they can go out of their way to find a fault that bolsters their prejudice? I'm not stupid. I'm an author. An educated, worldly, well-traveled, hard working, professional author. I'd much rather have a reviewer who loves my genre give me a fair review in comparison to like works. That's common sense.  

As for the people in general who scoff at romance, I ask...what are you afraid of? That you might like it? The snobbery is ridiculous. Someone writing science fiction is not a better human being than me--and vice versa. It's all an equal amount of dedication, passion, and old fashioned hard work.  


Yvonne Nicolas said...

I loved this post, and although your words about the book industry were sad, it was the total truth. Yes, it’s like high school. Best thing to do is keep writing and continue to avoid the trouble that lurks in this industry. :)

Amber Lea Easton said...

Thanks, Yvonee. It IS sad, but too true. You're exactly right. The best thing to do is write and avoid being dragged into the fray. Thanks for stopping by!

Selena Robins said...

Great post! These issues have always been there and unfortunately, they will even get worse as the Internet is a breeding ground for negativity.

I agree, keep on writing and loving a beautiful genre that celebrates what everyone in the world has in common, to love and be loved, family, friendship and fun sub-genres and themes.

Selena Robins said...

Great blog post! Unfortunately I think with the internet now being a breeding ground for a lot of negativity and snobbery, it isn't going to change.

I agree, we just keep on writing and embracing a beautiful genre that celebrates something the whole world has in common---to love and be loved.

I always laugh when people say the romance genre isn't reality. What is more real than love and romance?

All the sub-genres, whether historical, fantasy or contemporary, etc, have one thing in common, bringing people together with the theme of family, friendship and love and giving our readers respite from the "real" world.

There are many bloggers and reviewers who embrace any and all romance books and their creators, and to those I say thank you. :)