The romance genre is empowering to women
This is the key to what makes the genre the most popular form of fiction being published today. [bctt tweet=”Romance novels aren’t The Hero’s Journey. They’re The Heroine’s Journey. http://www.blissblog.org” username=”@MaggieShayne”]
These stories always pit a woman who could be any one of us, against insurmountable obstacles, powerful villains, and in the end, she always wins. She wins using the gifts and skills inherent to the female gender. Her wit, her empathy, her strength, her intuition, her brains, and most of all, her heart.
And by the end of the book, the skills inherent to the male are also hers to wield, for the hero has surrendered his heart and laid his sword at her feet.
This is the appeal of the romance novel.
For more on the appeal of the genre, read, DANGEROUS MEN and ADVENTUROUS WOMEN, edited by Jayne Anne Krantz.
It hit me today how poetically ironic the power-shift that’s happening in our industry truly is.
For decades, major publishing houses have been staying afloat largely because of their romance novel divisions. It’s been the wild popularity of the genre that supported their publishing of literary fiction and their multi-million dollar celebrity tomes that almost never earn back their advances.
So famous people got millions from publishers for books that lost money, while women authors working for 8¢ on the dollar, and women readers paying 7 bucks for a paperback, kept the companies from going broke. This has been the status quo for decades.
What I don’t get is why anyone is surprised that system wasn’t sustainable. Really, how long were women supposed to put up with it?
Turns out, only until we were given another option.
We got one when Amazon created the Kindle, and ebooks became a publishing phenomenon. And then Amazon opened its bookstore to independent authors, welcomed us, offered us terms 5.6 times more favorable than publishers offered us, created a beautiful, easy to use interface. And we tried it and everything changed.
Suddenly, the women who wrote the books that empowered other women, were ourselves empowered.
We no longer had to accept 3% to 12.5% of the cover price for stories we bled onto the page, while a monster corporation gobbled up the other 87.5% to 97% of the profits from our creations. We could keep 70% instead.
Suddenly, we were sharing our stories with our readers directly from our muses, without some marketing department telling us what kinds of stories were hot this year.
“Maybe your heroine should be a virgin so we can get the word virgin into the title. There’s been a surge in the popularity of virgin titles this year.”
No more. We can write our stories the way we want to now. We can create the covers to match the vision in our own minds. We can price them far lower than publishers can.
The Romance Genre Has Always Empowered Women
But now there’s the most beautiful reciprocation going on. Now, the readers, when they purchase those books, are empowering the authors right back. They are giving us the power to take charge of our own lives, to get a fair share of the profits made from our own work, instead of just serving as cash cows to the company.
The romance genre isn’t an industry anymore. It’s a co-op. It’s women helping women. It’s a mutual empowerment network.
The romance genre is written by women for women and about women. It is truly The Heroine’s Journey. And isn’t it kind of beautiful how life is imitating art? The women who write stories about women taking the reins of their lives and winning, are taking the reins of our careers. And there is no way we can fail to triumph in the end. We’ve been writing this into existence for a century. It’s our turn. And it’s about freaking time we cut out the middle men.
It strikes me how fitting it is that during this historic time in our nation, when we have our first female major party nominee for the presidency of the United States, women writers and women readers are quietly taking control of the genre of women’s fiction.
Gosh, that’s sweet to me. And for that, I thank you, every one of you women writers and women readers.