#romcom4all: Let’s liberate romance!

Why should romantic comedy be for women only?  Why? I mean, really, why?

I bet now you’re thinking about it, there doesn’t seem to be a good reason.  That’s why fellow author Janice Horton and I are introducing:  #romcom4all

Closet romance lovers, reveal thyselves! Come on now, don’t be  shy!

I had the tremendous pleasure of welcoming Janice on my CentreStage feature on my blog this week, and her great post sparked a fabulous debate on the subject of reading-related gender stereotype.  As a result of which, we decided, through the winding course of the discussion threads, to start a campaign called #romcom4all.

What the heck is that about, you wonder?  It’s quite simple; it does exactly what it says in the #hashtag: it encourages everyone to admit that they read romcom.  And we mean, everyone!  In particular, however, this is meant to encourage the male of the species to come out of the closet and speak out.

Men do read romance.  Yes, they do.  I know that for a fact!   They just don’t talk about it, they don’t like to admit it, and they certainly wouldn’t want to be seen holding a romantic novel in their hands while travelling on the Tube.  So how do I know men read romance?  Easy.  I’ve had quite a few members of the male species read Sophie’s Turn.  Some were beta readers, but some were actual customers who bought Sophie’s Turn on Amazon, and one was a reviewer who wasn’t too shy to write and publish his review in his very own local magazine; you can read his review here.

If you think about it, it’s kind of obvious.  Everyone loves a happy ending.  Everyone wants to be loved.  Why should men not enjoy a romantic novel?  Several male readers have commented that a romantic novel is a fantastic way of getting insights into the female brain, understanding ‘the other side.’

In fact, the clever man will read romance as a ‘how to’ manual.  Even if our seeming erratic behaviour or overly emotional responses continue to perplex the male reader, at the very least he gets to take away the comforting knowledge that his beloved is quite normal.  Now I wouldn’t say that my male readers are serial romance readers, nor are they likely to come out of the closet any time soon.  But it does make me smile to think that they are out there, enjoying a cracking romantic read.

Here’s what the amazing Janice Horton has to say regarding #romcom4all:

This week I’ve been completely bowled over by a fabulous independent review of my contemporary romance novel Reaching for the Stars on Amazon UK. Why bowled over, you might ask? Well, as I explained on Nicky’s ‘CentreStage’ blog this week – it was because it was by a man!

Okay – he confessed to downloading my book by accident and then reading it anyway – but the fact remains that he enjoyed it, took the time to write a fabulous review, and then to download my previous book Bagpipes & Bullshot.

All of this made me wonder why bookshops, both on the high street and online, continue to label Relationship Novels as ‘Women’s Fiction’ as if men should have nothing to do with them?

It’s stereotyping in the extreme. Yet the market for relationship novels continues to expand and men and women are breaking the stereotypical role image every day in real life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So: do men have a lot to learn from a romantic relationship novel?And are men more likely to read romance on an ereader?

What do YOU think?

Ladies, how do YOU feel about the segregation of ‘Women’s Fiction’?Gentlemen, are YOU man enough to read a romance novel?

Fellow author Janice Horton and I are calling for a tag campaign to bring ‘Romcom for All’.  We will be tweeting using the hashtag #romcom4all. Please join us and share your views!

Click here to go to Janice’s Blog

Please feel free to leave a comment before you go, share this post on Facebook or your other social networks, tag this blog with your own blog post so that we can follow YOU – and don’t forget to and tweet YOUR thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #romcom4all. We look forward to hearing from you!

About fellow author Janice Horton:

Janice writes romantic and descriptive novels with humour. Look out for her Amazon bestselling Bagpipes & Bullshot and latest novel Reaching for the Stars. Janice is a regular blogger and you can find her on Twitter and Facebook. When not writing novels, Janice writes lifestyle articles and has had work published in national and international magazines and regional newspapers. She has also been involved in BBC Scotland’s ‘Write Here Write Now’ project. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association and an Associate Author and Editor at Loveahappyending.com. Janice will be speaking at the Loveahappyending.com Summer Audience Event in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, on the 16th June 2012.  You can find Janice’s books on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

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20 responses to “#romcom4all: Let’s liberate romance!

  1. I *loved* that post the other day. I asterixed it for a follow up to leave a comment on it as I was so pleased to see it there! I think rom coms and barriers to being seen holding such a book is mostly a cover art issue. Think back to Harry Potter and you’ll remember that the books were relaunched with ‘adult’ covers for self-conscious readers, I think that rom coms would benefit from the same, I really do. Also it’s the tag possibly?

    Love stories are universal – think of Shakespeare’s plays and Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago – I’m sure both genders loved those. I think men maybe worry about an effeminate tag being seen with a pinky blue cover with a title written in a jaunty font on it?! Just a guess. I’ve not done a street survey yet lol. x

    • Morning, Yasmin! I’m so excited about this post today and honoured that you are my very first commenter. (Commentator? Comment leaver?) Do you know, I think there may be a case for less girlie covers for romantic novels but at the end of the day, they are quite fun, aren’t they?

      I read somewhere that the proportion of men ‘secretly’ reading romantic fiction on their eReaders has increased significantly, although I cannot recall the percentage cited. Perhaps that’s another blessing of the e-volution in the publishing world? Cutting through the gender divide by affording privacy. Then again… I’d rather the male of the species owned up. There’d be nothing more enticing about a bloke than seeing him with a copy of Bridget Jones or Shopaholic on the Tube! I believe in my single days, I might have even summoned up the courage to start a conversation with such a man. Male ‘emancipation’ on the romance reading front might up whole new gender conversations!!

      Thanks for visiting and feel free to link to or tag the campaign on your lovely blog. Let’s make a wave! XX

  2. Hi Nicky & Yasmin! Great blog post Nicky and super comment Yasmin – I agree absolutely about the cover issue – look at the cover of ‘One Day’ for example. I’m sure it was bought by both men & women with such an interesting cover image. I will pop back and catch up with you again later when I’m not messaging from my iPhone. Have a great day ! Xx

  3. Fab blog post! My hubby doesn’t read at all but I would love it if he read a romance or two – it might give him some tips :D

    I think men probably would be more likely to read romance on an ereader though because they wouldn’t have to worry about people seeing the cover!

    • Aah, the closet reader! Well, there is that! Give him a Kindle and load it up with romance, see how he gets on… and keep us posted! Thanks for visiting, Kate, spread the word! :-) x

  4. Hi Nicky & Janice,

    Great posts both… Of course men like romance, some do read it, but I know of many who have rom-com DVD collections: the visual aspect! My hubby can be included in the DVD set. He’s a die-hard Jane Austen fan….For him it’s a case of feet up and watch rather than read. Give him a book he falls asleep!!

    • Hi Francine… thanks for your comment! There’s a whole new dimension to the debate here. Maybe it’s not the subject manner that stumps the men but the reading itself. So, let’s all turn our books into films and problem solved. **one can dream** Love your thoughts, thanks for stopping by and taking part!

  5. Speaking as a generally non-romance reading woman, the cover art is a big no-no, and I am very likely to make judgments about a book based on the cover. I’ve read a couple of the paranormal genre, for example, and there are often cover images which feature (to my mind, inappropriately) semi-naked men and women, which for me is an immediate turn-off!

    Why I don’t tend to read romance? Well, because I have an idea (possibly incorrect) that romance novels make the romance the central plot, relegating other plot strands to the periphery. I actually like romantic interruptions in a novel, but I’m not keen on it taking centre stage.

    I do wonder at men saying they read romance to get an idea of what women are thinking, and that makes me laugh, because I don’t recognise myself in any of the women I’ve read about in romance novels. Still, anything that breaks down genre barriers is to be welcomed!

    • Hey, Emma! Thanks so much for visiting, that’s a real treat! I recall that romance isn’t your favourite thing and I love the perspective you offer. I think you are probably correct that romance novels focus on… well romance for the main plot, but there’s a whole emerging catalogue of cross genres, perhaps they might capture your interest. E.g. paranormal romance, historical romance, etc. I’m thinking of a crime romance in the dime and distant future but not sure how to pull it off yet… Perhaps those types of romance might appeal more to the male reader, too? (especially crime, I really must pursue this further) :-) It was nice to ‘see’ you here, thanks again!

      • Ah that’s interesting, I’d say that my novel Gunshot Glitter straddles crime and romance. I’ve found it nigh on impossible to tag. But those are two words that resonate and I’ve never seen them listed side by side Nicky.

        It’s a really gritty read but ultimately it is love that makes and breaks everything. It’s not out yet, it’s still baking but I want it to appeal to both genders.

        I’m not sure I’ve ever read a contemporary unadulerated romance myself to be honest. I like it to be an element. I like it when sex can be an element too but I like my stories to straddle a core of themes where possible and that’s why I loved One Day and ThirtyNothing because the essence was more than just romance, it was life itself.

      • That sounds amazing, Yasmin! Can’t wait until it comes out of the oven…. D’you know, I think I agree. I can’t think of a love story that is just a love story, there are always other things going on, other themes, subplots… But that’s life, isn’t it? It’s never just about one thing, there’s always multitasking involved. So maybe that’s what we need to tell the blokes. “My book has a fantastic DIY man in it.” (I hasten to add that Dan, my hero, isn’t a DIYer, anything but, but he has other ‘male’ virtues going for him). I’ve seen romance and cookery… why not romance and DIY??? Or beer? Or golf? Or… or… cars? Football? Cricket? Ice Hockey??? (calling Lady Baggot here!!) Ladies, the world is our lobster, let’s rethink!

  6. The Romaniacs

    We hear you Nicky and Janice, loud and clear. Men should definitely read romance, there is so much choice of style and story, they really don’t know what they are missing out on.

  7. I agree that if romance wasn’t the central theme of the book, more men would be likely to read books with romance in them. You can have adventure or suspense and a love story interwoven. That would appeal more to men and probably to most women too. Romance got a bad name when books of poor quality and low-vocab were cranked out all with similar themes (boy pursues girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back). Most women nowadays want more modern and real situations in their “romance” novels – more the kind of book that men would read too (if it isn’t spoiled by the sappy cover).

    • Thanks for your really insightful comment! Looks like there’s a tidal wave of change about in the field of romance, and not just for the benefit of men. Love your thoughts on adventure and suspense, Anneli, thanks for visiting!

  8. Hmmm. I think men would read so much more widely if they thought other people wouldn’t razz them for it. Maybe the Kindle revolution will be good in that respect –You don’t have to buy it at the bookstore counter and no one knows what you’re reading!

    • … except for the lovely people at Amazon, obviously, who’ll probably forward you more and more romantic recommendations! ;-) I think you raise a very valid point though and one that has made it right into the rank of publishers’ awareness, or so I believe. eReaders open up a whole world of possiblities, for everyone.

      I also think the peer pressure concept you raise is a big one. It probably doesn’t go down too well with man’s mate at the pub/football club/boxing ring to say, “hey, you know, I’ve just read that new Nicky Wells, and it absolutely rocks, cor that sex scene in the bathroom had me positively drooling.”

      Would be nice, though, if it did! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and joining the chat! x

  9. I love this idea and hope many men will admit to finding pleasure in reading romantic comedies, (or at least enjoy them in secret! ;-) Thanks for bringing this idea to the fold!

    • Aaah, Bonnie, I love your enthusiasm! Starting to think from what I’m hearing here that we’re not going to reform mankind… at least not officially, but maybe, just maybe, we’ll get them more receptive to guilty pleasures. I quite fancy being someone’s guilty pleasure, actually! :-)

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