Thanks for giving me an opportunity to rant a bit.
When I was close to finishing the first draft of my paranormal romance, Omega Rising, back in late 2013/early 2014, the world (meaning a lot of agents, editors, and bloggers I respected) declared the paranormal romance dead. “Can’t sell PNRs anymore.” The articles came fast and furious. “Glut.” “Market oversaturation.” “Twilight was the beginning of the end.” On and on they went. But…but I love reading PNRs. How come suddenly no one else did?
Let me back up a second. I’m an avid reader of romances. Well, I’m an avid reader of everything but romances have been my favorite ever since I picked up one of my mom’s Harlequin Presents as a teenager. I looked forward to sneaking away with those white covers with bright pops of color when she was done reading. Those stories took me to far off places like the deserts of Arabia, the mountains in Switzerland with handsome heroes and beautiful heroines. They solved mysteries, wrestled with accidents and amnesia and their feelings, they took down the bad guy, confessed their lies (it seemed there was always a big lie being told) then eventually confessed their love for each other. The Happy Ever After. Hooked.
Then about eight years ago I picked up my first paranormal romance (by Christina Dodd, who I’d never heard of before) and read it one sitting. Amazing. Fantastic. Delicious. I bought the whole series and gobbled them up, too, and hunted for more books. The stakes were higher in paranormals, the heroes hotter and heroines sexier, the romances steamier. Yes yes yes. More, please.
Paranormal writers used words real men and women used every day, like cock and wet (no more petals opening, no more manhood or gods forbid manroot – hooray). The heroines were strong, flawed, their orgasms important, like in real life. Even with the fantasy element of vampires or shapeshifters or witches, the stories, the romances, were more authentic. I was so IN.
Okay, back to when PNRs were declared dead. On an open Twitter chat with one of the publishers where I planned to submit the manuscript once polished, their reps confirmed what I’d been reading. I was blindsided, heartbroken, sick to my stomach. I had just spent a considerable amount of time and tears on my first novel that would never sell.
Might as well flush this thing I created and loved down the toilet. I stumbled through the rest of that day, berating myself one minute then the next wondering if I could change my novel and eliminate the paranormal element.
That made me feel even worse because paranormal added a level of complexity and tension and steaminess that, in my view anyway, not just couldn’t but shouldn’t be cut out like an unwanted defect. An unsalable defect. I wrote what I loved but no one wanted to read PNRs anymore? Because I sure did.
The next morning I woke up and looked at my TBR stack and some books I just finished reading. A healthy number of those books were paranormals. I checked the pub dates – all new. Huh. Wtf. They weren’t dead after all. HOORAY and AWWW YEAH!!
After filing that bit of news under “dammit, don’t believe everything you read’ I went right back to my manuscript to revise, rewrite, edit and revise some more. Less than a year later I had two books under contract and my editor helped make my books even stronger.
My theory is that for a while there was a glut of paranormal romances and some books that slipped through were…less than good (you know what I’m talking about). The market listened to annoyed readers, including myself, who plunked down hard earned cash only to find a story that didn’t live up to the high expectations the genre demands.
Because of this, I believe, the big publishers, small presses, and authors tightened their standards and better stories resulted. Savvy readers want a good story, a hot romance, and a reason to keep turning the pages.
Good for the genre, good for the reader.
Long live the delicious paranormal romance!
(Anna here: this is an updated version of a guest post I wrote for the awesome blog Foreplay and Fangs on June 9, 2016)
You can check out my delicious paranormal romances Omega Rising and Skye Falling at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, AllRomanceebooks, etc.