Conversation with a Whale Reader: Is Romance Writing Dead?

Whale Reader
Posted by Autumn Stone
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I planned on interviewing a whale reader and then realized that I wanted to share my experiences as a whale reader. I love, love, love reading. The story is that my mom began teaching me how to read using kid books and the Wall Street Journal when I was 2 years old. She clearly had time on her hands. I started reading young and I’ve never looked back. I love personal finance books, self-help, cook books, travel, coffee table books, autobiographies and of course romance. Not to mention dystopian fiction and Young Adult fiction. If there is a story out there I’m here for it. So I thought that I would share why authors should stop overthinking writing their stories and some other thoughts that I thought would be helpful to share from a whale readers perspective.

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Listen to the Show

Is Romance Dead?

No. Romance as a genre is not dead. In fact, in the last episode I talk about how current television shows can validate your future book ideas. Bridgerton’s successful run during a pandemic should clear up any confusion about the reading public’s interest in escaping into a fun story. By the way the Bridgerton books also soared in sales after the release of the show. I looked at the series and planned on purchasing the books EVEN THOUGH I watched the first installment of the series. Why? Because we all know that television adaptations are different .

I bring up the fact that romance isn’t dead because would be authors ask this question all the time in Facebook groups. I’m convinced they’re asking this as they work through their fears about becoming a writer and getting their stories out into the world.

Romance as a consumable story has been around since the beginning of time.

Whale Reader

As a whale reader I read something daily. Blog posts, articles, books, etc. As an American reader who has just gone through the most stressful year ever, the escape that romance offers me is so welcome.

What I think can be confusing from an author’s perspective is how people are consuming content. In particular, romance. I’m a purist and enjoy romance content in the following ways and I’m emphasizing how I read it and make spending decisions:

  • I read books via my Kindle
  • Buy used books from thrift stores
  • Pick up new books every time I travel and then I leave them in the airport for other travelers
  • Social Media
  • Buy the occasional book from book stores if I get a chance.

I like both paperback and digital but with COVID I’m buying primarily digital because I’m not able to go to the library. Also, I’ve become more committed to buying in an earth friendly way. This is my personal thing, you don’t have to worry about that.

As an Author

Here is what I noticed consumers of romance content doing recently specifically regarding making purchasing decisions and how they read their books.

  • Subscribing to Kindle or similar book subscription services
  • Listening to Audio books-I personally hate audio books but I do love that they open up worlds to people who are busy or people who struggle with sight related issues.
  • Direct from author purchases-I actually have begun to do this when the author is selling directly from their platform.
  • Buying online
  • Buying from thrift stores
  • Buying from book stores
  • Social media

Basically, readers are consuming and connecting with romance stories in a ridiculous number of ways.

What About Reviews?

Before I began writing my own books, I would often read books that had 3 star reviews or higher. Basically, the story just had to be of interest to me and I often will give authors a chance.

My thought is they may be new and these initial book attempts are part of learning how to become a better writer. I also am aware that some reviews are ridiculously harsh and so I have never left reviews that I don’t consider to be helpful in some kind of way.

There’s a reason why I think this way. I started blogging in 2012 in the personal finance space. The quality of that content compared to now is so bad. But, if I hadn’t begun then I never would have improved my writing skills. Basically, the 10,000 hours of practice that it takes to build up a skill.

And, I’ve enjoyed most of those 3 star books. In fact, I’ve left a series that I tested out that has 3 stars because people are still purchasing the books.

What am I Reading Now?

As a whale reader of romance I love reading a variety of different genres. Here is a current breakdown of what I’m enjoying. I do cycle though genres and certain authors. I re-read books ALL THE TIME and I look forward to reading specific tropes based on time of year. For example: Her Irish Billionaire an Enemy to Lover Story (I made that title up)

  • Enemies to Lovers-for some reason I really like this trope.
  • Second Chance Romance-I love the story that touches on how a couple finally gets it right the second time.
  • African-American romance (Historical/Contemporary such as Talia Hibbert)
  • BWWM-I find this genre really interesting based on the times that we’re in.
  • Reverse Harem-I do plan on releasing reverse harem books but under a different pen name and with African-American female leads this Spring.
  • Paranormal Academy-I enjoy these but do tend to prefer when the characters are older.
  • Mafia-These are always fun to read.
  • MC-As a diehard Sons of Anarchy fan these are always a fun read
  • Forbidden love-these can be fun

Helpful Tips For Authors

It’s my view that most romance authors are probably whale readers of romance. I recorded this episode because I think that whale readers, in particular, are great way to gain some insight to the potential habits of your readers.

  • Run a survey online about what you would like to write-Be careful though because you want to make sure that the people responding are your ideal readers.
  • Have conversations with whale readers via Zoom/social media/in-person for part of your author research. Are the stories that you’re looking to write stories that people are excited to read? Basically, do some market research.
  • Discover what motivates a whale reader to purchase a book in the genre (or genres) that you’re looking to write in. For me, I discovered that there weren’t enough books in the genres that I’m excited about. I basically blazed my way through all of the books that I could find in my favorite genres and needed more.

What About the Covers?

Just like every book reader, the cover helps me to make my buying decision. It’s what draws my eye first to a book. However, I’ve purchased books with solid covers but incredible blurbs.

Or, I’ve purchased books with clear descriptions on Amazon in their title and ok covers.

And, I’ve purchased books with great covers and then discover the stories were meh. In the end, the story always wins.

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