Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Judging By the Cover

"some of us aren't the typical romance reader who has time to read one book after another while the husband is away at work, while we're waiting on the kids at soccer practice or while we're homeschooling our kids."

I read this comment on a blog the other day. It made me laugh a little but also caused me to think about how easy it is to generalize people.

I tend to think romance writers have certain qualities in common, but what about romance readers?

Do you think their commonalities are more internal than external? When you think of someone who reads romance, what do you see? Have you ever made an assumption about someone and then been proven completely wrong?

41 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

I read that comment and loved your comment back. I think in a way, it's good to have a picture or a generalization of who our readers are. But we shouldn't assume, when we're talking to the world, that they're all like that visual image we have in our head. If that makes any sense at all. :)

Jessica Nelson said...

Awww, thanks! I was so nervous because I hate conflict but I felt like someone had to point out its obvious stereotyping.
Yes, you make total sense!

Julie Jarnagin said...

I read this comment too. Honestly, it made me cringe. The statement doesn't give romance readers (or mothers) the respect they deserve.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

The longer I'm alive the more I realize there is no such thing as a typical person.

~ Wendy

Jessica Nelson said...

Julie,
I'm so glad I wasn't the only one who cringed.

Wendy,
Exactly how I feel!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Hmmm...interesting. That comment is a little surprising. :)
It's so easy for people to generalize.
I've even heard that some people think romance readers are people who are unhappy with their husbands or boyfriends and need that fantasy escape.
I find that most romance readers just enjoy a good story with a guaranteed happy ending.

Jessica Nelson said...

Jennifer,
It surprised me too, so much that I laughed out loud in disbelief.
I totally agree with your assessment. ;-)

Linda Kage said...

Oh, I'm sure I've generalized at one point or another. That's just human nature, right. A lot of people have no idea what it's like to be me and I have no idea what it's like to be, well, everyone else. So, it's usually just easier to lump a bunch of them together and write them off with a generlized statement.

The trick it learning how to keep those thoughts to yourself until you learn how wrong you are OR before saying something judgemental and making a fool of yourself!!

Sarah Forgrave said...

I read that comment too and had a few words for that person in my head. Glad someone had the guts to type them out. :)

I think there are certain stereotypes about romance readers that are probably true, like the fact that most of them are women. Notice I said *most*, not *all*. But beyond that, I think they come from all walks of life, generations, careers, and interests.

Patti said...

I agree with Sarah, I think the only thing about romance readers is that they are mainly women. Some I know do spend all day reading, but only once in a while, like when they've found a really good book.

Georgiana said...

LOL, I read that comment and your reply the other day too! The main commonality between romance readers that is fairly safe to assume is that they are mostly women. Oh, and also that they read more regularly than a lot of other readers. Even in a down economy, romance sales were pretty strong, if I'm remembering the correct statistic.

anita said...

Haahaa. I found where this was posted and you did an excellent job kindly, yet firmly, pointing out stereotypical tropes to that fella. Well done, my diplomatic BQE.

Oh, and you get a lunch break? Only on the days you work outside of home, I'm guessing. HEH.

As for me, yep. I've made snap judgements about people and later come to realize I was wrong. Does the name Gee-gee ring any bells? SNORT!

Have a great day, girl!

Jessica Nelson said...

Linda, very good point. I'm sure I've made generalizations in the past too. Hopefully in the future I'll be more careful before I stick my foot in my mouth! LOL

Sarah, I think the same thing. :-)

Jessica Nelson said...

Patti, I love when I find a book so good I devour it in a day!!!

Georgiana, yep, they do read more. Thus driving the market. If other genre readers bought more, then they'd have more books...It does stink for them but there's not much we can do.

Anita!!! Dang girl, how'd you do that? Smartie pants. Heh. You're so hilarious about Gee-gee.
LOL

Jaime said...

Hey - I've been known to get "caught" at work (Career Mom here!) with my feet propped on my desk and Jody Hedlund's book in my hands. LOL Stereotype-Breaker here! :)

T. Anne said...

I really enjoyed your comeback on Rachelle's blog! Thank you for taking care of it for the rest of us! ;) I think covers are a great synopsis of what you might find inside. We need that in this quick moving world. I don't judge anyone by what they read. =)

Terri Tiffany said...

My daughter is a huge romance reader but knowing her and her character, I don't think someone would think she read that kind. She is highly organized to the point of OC I think and loves to be in charge (hmm..where did she get that from) but give her a romance and she can't put it down!

Deb Shucka said...

I think any generalizing is dangerous. So are assumptions - no one is ever all that we see or think we see. And any time we judge a person, it says more about us than them.

Diane said...

I think I did have a certain stereotype in my mind when I was younger, but that has definitely changed. :O)

Jessica Nelson said...

Diane...I can't believe that of you! LOL Just kidding. Most of us have stereotypes of different things. Sometimes we realize it and sometimes we don't. It's nice when we do see it and can change, right?

Very well said, Deb!

Jessica Nelson said...

Terri, good point! It's nice to be surprised by people who don't fit the mold of what we think they should be. I'll bet your daughter is your biggest fan. :-)

Thanks T. Anne! I hope now I wasn't too harsh or anything. I was just so AGHAST at the comment. LOL

Jaime!! LOL Somehow I'm not surprised that you're a stereotype breaker. *grin*

Erica Vetsch said...

Yeah, that comment torqued me a little, until I realized it was made out of ignorance. Obviously that commentor doesn't know enough about what it's like to be a stay-at-home mother, homeschooler, writer, etc.

I also thought your final comment on the thread most gracious.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

Great comeback!

We need to know our audience, but if we approach them with stereotypical characters, we're in trouble. Imagine writing a romance based on that assumption. I doubt it would get past an editor's desk.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Tamika: said...

Every time I make an assumption, I am so far off base its mortifying. Ack! I get flushed just thinking about all the times I needed to cram my foot in my mouth!

Happily Cheesy said...

When I think of romance readers I always envision my 11th grade honors English teacher sneaking back into her book while hoping none of us noticed. Surprisingly, she bears a huge resemblance to my best friend who used to hand me romance novels she'd edited to my taste. Both teachers. Hm... I sense a correlation here.

Jessica Nelson said...

Happily, what a cool memory! I love that an Honors English teacher was reading romance. LOL! Thanks so much for commenting. :-)

Oh Tamika, I'm with you on the foot in mouth! Tastes gross and is hard to pull out. *grin*

Jessica Nelson said...

Erica, thanks for the sweet comment. I think maybe I offended the commenter, which wasn't my intention...

Good point, Susan!

Irritable Mother said...

Well, I am not a romance writer, so I really have never given much thought to the mind of a romance reader...But I have made wrong assumptions about people before. And then I wonder - Why do I do that???
When it comes to people, I'm really trying NOT to judge the book by the cover. ;o)

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Hi Jessica!
I so agree with your comments. I don't write romance, and don't read too much of it either, but I sure wouldn't picture any modern woman in such a way.

I've seen your comments on some friends' blogs and have wanted to pay a visit here for a while. So glad I did. Your sweetness is apparent. I'll be following :)

Please stop by my Eternity Cafe! I invite you to do the same.
Blessings,
Susan

Caryn Caldwell said...

Whoa. They really think that about romance readers? And, for that matter, they think that any truly active moms have time to read book after book after book? Or maybe it's just a case of thinking that everyone has it easier than you...

Nancy said...

I don't know who the typical romance reader is. I just read them because I like them. I tend to go in spurts. I'll swear off reading for awhile, then I'll read several books a week for a long session. Romances are one of my favorite genres.

Karen Lange said...

You know, I've not thought of that specifically, as far as the things in common. I suspect no matter walk of life or circumstance they all have a romantic place in their heart that wants to escape for a bit.
Have a good weekend,
Karen

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

When I was little, my mom would read her Harlequins almost every night before bed. She's the most incredible person I know so I associate romance readers with greatness. :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

I bet right now, in some scientific lab full of scientific doodle-dee-dah, there is a scientist with his feet propped up reading a romance book while his colleagues are out to dinner- :-D

Patti Lacy said...

Do you think maybe they're dreamy types?
Great thought:)

Jessica Nelson said...

Patti....I don't know. There's such a broad spectrum of romances too. The person who loves romantic suspense is probably alot different than the one who loves romantic comedy.

Ah Kathryn, I completely love that image! LOL

Jessica Nelson said...

Me too, Karen! Me too.

Hi Susan,
I've seen your name out and about too. Thanks so much for stopping by. :-)

Caryn,
Good point. LOL

Jessica Nelson said...

Me too Nancy! Gotta love romance. :-)

Karen L. I think you're right about that little place in their hearts. Because despite all the different types of romances out there, there's a few things they ALL have in common. Faithfulness and a HEA.

Jessica Nelson said...

Karen H, when I first read your comment it made me smile so big. :-) What a wonderful memory!

Cheryl Linn Martin said...

Assumptions??? Duh!! Guilty.

Rita Gerlach said...

Although nothing will ever replace holding a book in your hands to read, I hope publishers will look into putting out more audio books. I know for me, I'd love to listen to my favorite author's latest work on audio while making dinner or doing laundry, or soaking in the tub after a long day.