Podcast, Writing Tips

12 Mistakes that Romance Authors Make That Turn Off Readers

Author Mistakes
Posted by Autumn Stone
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Last week I shared that I am a whale reader of books. So, I thought it would be interesting for would be authors to hear about the 12 mistakes romance authors make within their books that completely turn off their readers and distract from the overall reading experience.

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1. Get the lingo wrong-If you’re from overseas and you’re writing a book with American characters using the language will become a jarring experience for the reader…even if they aren’t quite sure why. The word “MATHS” comes to mind. Americans just don’t refer to the study of Mathematics as “Maths” This also includes spelling such as color vs. colour

2. Changing your characters in a half-assed way. I’ve read books were it’s clear that the character was white and now they’re Black…but, nothing about the character makes sense. Blushing is a clue unless they are very fair. Book covers that don’t match the character-I’ve been immediately turned off when this happens. In particular when the described character is totally different than the cover. On more than one occasion I’ve read a character description for a white character with a Black cover model. Or, it’s Black character with a cover that in no way looks like a Black woman.

3. Create scenarios that your readers don’t believe. This one is tricky because we’re writing creative fiction. I’m bringing my life experience and lived experience to the works that I create and some people may not have had similar lived experiences. I’ll never forget getting comment that I did a solid job with the book even though I was white. I’m not white. I’m Black. But, I grew up in Colorado which affects my lived experience. 

4. You don’t pay attention to what your readers really want in a romance in the genre that you’re writing in. 

5. You’re not clear about the consistent trends in the genre that you would like to write in.

6. Making a character so dislikable that they’re not redeemable to the reader. There are three genres in particular where you would see this happen most often: Dark romance, Bully, or Enemies to Lovers. However, in other genres it’s still possible to create a character that just is unlikeable because of their actions in the beginning of the story.

7. You don’t communicate what to expect. This is easily fixed by paying attention to the blurb and title of the book. 

8. Authors that don’t provide at least 1 place where we can follow you-it doesn’t have to be website. Please let us become your fans. 

9. NO Happily Ever After….unless it’s a cliff hanger and you COMMUNICATE that it’s a cliff hanger/book #1 of a series.

10. Not being clear about the genre/troupe of the book. Typically, you can make this clear in a couple of different ways. The title, the blurb, where you market the book.

11. Character names-I can’t tell you how often I’m turned off by really strange names for characters in contemporary romances. If you haven’t heard of someone being called “Matilda” recently who’s the age of your character it’s likely that’s not a great name for your character. 

12. Not being clear about book length-I love reading novellas to regular length books. And I will purchase them too. Just be clear about what to expect. 

Did I miss a mistake that you notice often? 

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