Paranormal Romance & Urban Fantasy discussion

Paranormal Romance > I need some feedback

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message 1: by Sonya (new)

Sonya Heaney | 87 comments You’ve drawn a lot of conclusions about paranormal romances and urban fantasies without even reading any – read some! You need to know your market. So many people (who won’t read any!) make the mistake that if a book is classified as a romance, then it’s light and fluffy and there’s no plot. You couldn’t be more wrong about that. Some of these books are so gory that make me uneasy!

The thing is, any story with romance in it that doesn’t end up with one of the two main characters dead at the end meets the guidelines for Romance Writers of America to classify it as a ‘Romance’. I know a lot of people who claim they haven’t read any romances who actually have a shelf full of them. They just had such a narrow view of what romance is, they had no idea.

Now, there’re authors like Gena Showalter who I certainly wouldn’t recommend to you (popular here, but very ‘girly’ in my opinion). But read Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series. The complexity of the world-building, the story arcs that cover more than one book, the love between the two main characters at the core of it.

If you want an idea of a ‘typical’ paranormal romance, try Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series. They’re paranormal romances that have an ongoing storyline about the underground war between good and evil. They’ve got much more romance than the Briggs’ series, but also have a lot going on in the wider world.

As for the covers? That’s actually a country by country thing. Here in Australia, and in Britain, we don’t do the Naked Chest Guy covers. You’ll find (and I’ve learnt this through so many debates about it!) that in the US there’s a much bigger expectation that anything marketed to women will have a guy with a waxed chest slapped on the cover of it. I much prefer covers without them.

message 2: by Isis (new)

Isis Persephone | 39 comments I agree with Sonya, especially the part about reading something in the genre (or get them as an audio book). That said, having read the description of your book's plot and seen the cover, I, as a reader, might read it, but as a fantasy (maybe more urban fantasy), not a paranormal romance, or romance really of any sort (as they're typically classified).

This is obviously just my personal opinion, but when reading the storyline for your book, it doesn't come across as a romance novel. That does not preclude it having romance in it, and sometimes I find myself questioning the difference. I just read the first and second novels of Julie Czerneda's Stratification Series, and I would say that romantic relationships are a big part of the story. That said, it is very much science fiction, categorically speaking, rather than romance (The Sword of Truth is another series that comes to mind in which romance plays a huge part, but it's not a romance series, per se).

As for your cover, it doesn't look like a romance cover. I don't prefer bare-chested men for the paranormal romance I like to read (I don't know what I want, just not that haha!), but if I'm categorizing a book by cover (and I am), yours looks like a fantasy/science fiction cover. Or maybe something I'd see on a Charles de Lint book (urban fantasy). I might be wrong, but I think there are plenty of readers like me who read across the giant speculative fiction umbrella, so even if it can't be marketed as a categorical romance, that doesn't mean no romance readers would enjoy it.

Finally, I'm not sure I understand your question about romance readers being able to tolerate epic stories, or long stories. As if all romance readers have the same tastes (with the implication that simplicity is preferred over complexity)? I can speak only for myself: I like GOOD stories (and obviously, what's good is subjective). Not sure that helps, but either way, good luck with whatever you decide. : )

message 3: by Rachel (last edited May 03, 2014 06:56AM) (new)

Rachel | 192 comments I also found myself a little surprised at your supposition that romance readers don't like long stories. Perhaps one of the most popular romance series out there is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. The first book is about the same length as yours and it has almost a quarter-million reviews!

I would certainly second the advice of Sonya and Isis to read some books in the genre. I think you'll be surprised at the scope and breadth of some of the stories out there (both long and short). And while I'm sure it takes a large amount of time to write long books I hope you would consider reading an important part of the writing process. All writers must spend some time doing research to perfect their craft and if romance is an important part of your story then perhaps it would be worth your time to see how others have worked it into their books.

I'll have to give some thought to some book recommendations for you to consider. But Sonya made some good ones that should help introduce you to the PNR/UF canon.

The only series I can think of off the top of my head that is fairly "epic" in terms of world-building and story development is the Fever Series by KMM (starts with Darkfever). I would certainly not consider that series to be "warm and fuzzy" and in fact, it gets pretty dark. Also, the romance is slow-building but that doesn't seem to turn-off readers (if anything, it seems to turn them on! haha).

message 4: by PepperP0t (new)

PepperP0t  | 534 comments This group reads all kinds of romance, we don't necessarily have the same taste in sub-genre that fall under the heading but we love the genre.

Having looked at the cover and read the synopsis, I very much agree that I'd classify the read as more fantasy and not paranormal or urban fantasy. (and each of those genre's has a distinct following.)

I am definitely a romance reader (of all types - paranormal, suspense, historic, fantasy) and I'm definitely a paranormal reader (shifters, vamps, things that go bump in the night - except zombies!) and definitely an urban fantasy reader (with kick-a** heroine/hero doing their bit to hold the badness back) But the cover doesn't say any of those things to me, it says YA/Pre-teen (not NA) fantasy read. The synopsis says adult fantasy.

To presume that a romance reader won't read a long book is a disservice to the reader. If the story is good and/or interesting your reader will not only stick around bur recommend it to others. A romantic fantasy that could be termed epic is the Tairen Soul series. Like Outlander, there are wars. Like Fever, there's darkness and like both there is a romance that is anything but warm, fuzzy or smooth.

Like the other ladies, I'd recommend you read a few books in PNR/UF or even Fantasy to get an idea of the audience you're trying to target.

In trying to suggest things that haven't been chosen for you yet see book one of each series below, unfortunately I can't think of another epic with paranormal right now except Outlander. With the exception of Kevin Hearne's series, they each contain some pretty hefty reads.
Bronze Horseman (Paullina Simons)as an epic romance;
the Iron Druid Chronicles (Kevin Hearne)as an "epic" urban fantasy series
Tairen Soul (C. L. Wilson) as an epic fantasy series
Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) for the epic paranormal elements
Wilderness (Sara Donati) for epic adventure

The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman, #1) by Paullina Simons Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #1) by Kevin Hearne Lord of the Fading Lands (Tairen Soul, #1) by C.L. Wilson Outlander (Outlander, #1) by Diana Gabaldon Into the Wilderness (Wilderness, #1) by Sara Donati

message 5: by Sadie (new)

Sadie Forsythe | 32 comments R.J. looking at your cover and reading the synopsis I would question whether you book qualifies as either Paranormal (romance or not) or Urban Fantasy, at least as the generific terms are generally used. Sure it may be paranormal in the sense that it involves something outside of the range of normal experience or scientific explanation, but I doubt it would match many of the book on the shelves with it. For one, readers will be expecting a paranormal species in there somewhere. Maybe there is one and it's not obvious from the blurb, but... (Again, it's not something required by the genre, but it's largely expected, I think.)

This is important as it directly relates to who would be picking the book up and you risk marketing it to a lot of readers who are going to expect something different, be disappointed and express that disappointment in reviews.

As to the cover, which I know you've stated you're thinking of changing, I'll mention (though it risks pigeonholing readers, which I try not to do, but for discussions sake) readers of PNR and UF are largely (though obviously not solely) female. That cover is VERY male and will put a lot of female readers off, IMO. I wouldn't glance twice at it if it came up in an Amazon PNR/UF search. Not because it's not a fine cover, but because it would not appear to be offering me anything I'm looking for from the genre. I don't need a naked man or anything like it, but when I do see such covers I do know exactly what I'm going to get inside. If I saw that (especially when paired with the synopsis) I'd expect a soldier's story, geared toward male readers and pass right by it.

Of course I'm only talking about the impression I get from it, I don't KNOW anything about it. But neither will any other reader.

message 6: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (laurenjberman) Hi R.J.,

First, let me say that I wish you the best of luck with your book. Second, please do not take my comments as harsh criticism or attack as I mean them to be helpful.

As a reader of fantasy, paranormal romance and urban fantasy, I have to say that your book would not appeal to me personally (not that it won't appeal to others), and it is not the cover that turns me off. In fact, although the cover does not have the traditional paranormal feel to it and is a little on the amateur side, I like the duality of it and it does imply a alternate fantasy world (although not having read the book I'm not sure if this is what you were going for).

For me, the most significant issue is the blurb. While a cover may initially attract me to a book (and yours does), the blurb is what decides whether or not I will buy and the read the book.

Here are my problems with it:

1) You have a grammatical error - "...soldier in the Iraqi war that comes face-to-face" the "that" should be a "who". While this might seem petty, numerous readers could be irritated by it. I know I was.

2) The premise sounds very promising but the tone of the blurb is condescending. I'm sure that this is not what you meant, but to tell a reader to "check their pulse" if they feel nothing for your book is disdainful and shows contempt for the reader.

3) "RJ Seney meticulously weaves" - I'm uncertain whether or not you wrote the blurb yourself. If not, then this isn't a problem but the source of the blurb should be noted. If you yourself did write the blurb then to make such a claim is problematic as it sounds like you are reviewing your own writing. Isn't the decision of whether the writing is "meticulous" up to the reader to decide. It sounds like you are telling the reader what they should think and this is a turn off.

Finally, the title ... there is no connection between the title and the blurb. No description of what or who Yeath is or what or who Zy is (are they places, people, concepts?)

So it is not the length of the book or the cover that has led me to the decision of not reading the book but the blurb. A blurb is very important as it gives the reader a glimpse at your writing style, which for me, is problematic.

message 7: by Sadie (last edited May 05, 2014 10:35AM) (new)

Sadie Forsythe | 32 comments R.J., may I make an observation here? And I mean this to be completely respectful.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that you've asked for some feedback from PNR & UF readers, who have answered mostly that as it currently stands (accurate or not) your book, blurb, etc does not appear to fit the genre we regularly read. Perhaps not surprising as you've read very little of them. (Though props for following up on suggestions.) Asking from feedback from regular PNR/UF readers isn't asking if your book fits some technicality (because, of course "he word “Paranormal” is slightly different for everyone."), but if readers would recognise it as one of their own. Does it have the feel, tropes, characters, plot arcs, etc that we all love to hate about our favourite genre?

Is this not the crux of your initial query? Surely you're the best judge of what the book has in it, I was under the impression you were asking us if we would look at it and see something that interested us as PNF/UF readers. If you have to spend so much time explaining why it does fit, then you've already answered your own question really. And you won't have that opportunity with the average reader, who is probably only passing your book on a digital bookshelf.

Your responses, while well-thought out, polite* and well written seem to be defending your books position as a PNR or UF. That's fine and all. It's your book. But do you really want to shoehorn it into a genre? There are billions of readers out there. Don't you want to find the right ones? And while some of them might also be PNF/UF readers, all PNR/UF might not overlap your best readership.

You say, "I’m not concerned about paranormal romance readers being disappointed in my book. Everything I put in my description is accurate." But if that's the case, why are you here asking our opinion? If you're going to market your book to specific readers then you need be concerned with what they expect and whether it matches what you give them. (Otherwise I might be tempted to suspect this whole thing is a sidewise self-promotion.)

As an example, take my soldier comment. My point was that I would read your blurb/see your cover and assume this book was a fantasy war story targeted for men, not a romance story targeted at women. I was referring to an assumed target audience, that isn't me, based on the signal cues provided. Your response was to explain to me that soldiers have love too. Of course they do, but that has nothing to do with the point I was making or any answer to the question you initially posed. It was an opportunity to defend your soldiers right to be in a romance genre.

Again, meant to be respectful here, but this attitudes smacks me as a little author-arrogant. As if to say, the book, blurb, cover, etc is fine. If you don't like it, you're the problem. That isn't going to gain you many readers and certainly not many who then go on to love your book, rate it highly, and rave about it to all their reader-friends.

Again, I could be wrong here, but that's how this is starting to look.

*EDIT, come across and added after R.J.'s message #12.
Unlike here: (at and around message #162) Totally uncalled for.

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