Why Don’t They Love Me?

Writers often have people who serve as front line readers whenever they are workshopping a new piece of work. Whether you want to call this “alpha-readers,” “test audience,” or something else, these readers help a writer refine and improve their first draft. They’re invaluable and often a great resource for writers.

Alpha-readers are generally people who love books, love to read, are great at critiquing, and want to help an author create the very best second draft for beta-readers. They’re enthusiastic and fully on board with the process, ready to assist an author in any way that is appropriate. Alpha-readers can be paid, unpaid, volunteer, recruits, or anything in between. Often, these readers are friends or family of an author, or peers in the writing world. More often than not, they are peers.

Many authors try to recruit lifelong friends and family members to read their first draft. Many are met with disappointment.

Something that I see discussed frequently in the writing community is whether or not writers let their family and/or friends read their work. Some writers insist that they want friends and/or family to read their work, others (usually erotica writers working under a nom de plume) do not ever want their work read by people they are close to, and others are indifferent.

Like most things writing related, the preference varies from writer to writer. What a writer would like from their friends and/or family in regards to support is something you can only find out by asking each writer individually. For example, I’m fine with my nearest and dearest asking for advanced copies of my books–or even requesting/buying copies after release–to check out my work. It’s fine. I rarely ask anyone I know to read a specific work of mine, but I’m pleased when they decide they want to do it.

Many writers get very upset, even offended, if their friends and family do not read their work. Or worst yet–DON’T WANT TO READ IT.

I’ve seen many posts from well-meaning individuals claiming that a husband’s refusal to read his spouse’s work (or vice versa), is problematic. They’re not being supportive of your dream! They don’t love you as much as they should!

Look, my partner reads my work. I don’t ask him to do it, and he’s not required to do it. Yet, he does, and it makes me happy. But I’d be fine if he didn’t want to read anything I wrote.

Support comes in many forms–not just in the consumption of something a person has created. Support can be encouraging words, kisses and hugs on hard days, proclamations that the writer should never give up on their dream, doing extra housework and kid(s) duties so the writer has more time to write, extra financial support in the household, and just being there to listen on bad days or celebrate on good days.

Some people are just not readers. Some people don’t like reading certain genres or only enjoy one genre. Some people are just nervous to read the work of someone they are close to–because it comes with the unspoken assumption that feedback will be given at the end. That is nerve-wracking. Giving less than enthusiastic feedback to a stranger can be anxiety-inducing. If it’s someone you love and know well? You may as well just induce a heart attack.

Reading and giving critique is not in everyone’s wheelhouse.

As writers, we know how difficult it is to put ourselves out there creatively. We should respect how difficult it is for our loved ones to critique us. They don’t want to hurt our feelings or keep us from chasing our dreams. So, sometimes they would rather just offer other forms of support.

We have to be okay with this.

It doesn’t mean they don’t love you and support you–they’re either just simply not interested in reading (which is fine), or they’re protecting their mental health as well. Learn boundaries and be respectful of them.

Sure, if someone you love is actively undermining your hustle, you should not tolerate it. However, simply not reading your work is not abusive, rude, or even unkind.

Let people support you in the way that is most comfortable for them. Save your books for the readers you don’t know.

But, if a friend or family member (who isn’t problematic) asks to read your work, let them. Even if it makes you nervous. Having someone you love give you harsh critique will help build self-esteem and a backbone for when the real critiques come after publishing.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

La Vie Est Une Aventure

Writing books for a living is the dream for me. One which I’m living. And I’m eternally grateful. Each day I wake up with a song in my heart…and a craving for donuts and coffee. Anything sweet to go with my coffee, really, but that’s neither here nor there.

When a full-time writer (*cough* me *cough*) also tries to think of a topic or theme to blog about each week, it’s a bit of a drag. Not that I don’t enjoy writing my blog on Chase Connor Books–I freaking love it!–but sometimes I just don’t know what I can write two-thousand-ish about sometimes.

So…this week…I’m falling back on taking the easy way out. I thought I’d fill you all in on how life is going, what I’m up to with my writing, and perform a general Chase Connor Status Check.

It’s easier than thinking of something real to blog about. Don’t judge me!

Life is good. It’s great even. Things at home are going well. SAM and I are both healthy, happy, and still in love. Wish he’d pick up after his goddamn self more, but it’s a small thing to put up with, right?

Our fur-baby is healthy, happy, and loved tremendously as well. We had a “poop in the hall” incident recently, but it’s a small thing to put up with, right?

Narrator: It wasn’t a *small thing*. *BARF*

Regardless, we’re all doing well, we’re vaccinated against COVID yet still acting responsibly, and we can’t really ask for much out of life that we don’t already have. It’s a good place to find oneself.

As far as writing goes, MURDER AT THE RED ROOSTER TAVERN (A POINT WORTH LGBTQ PARANORMAL ROMANCE BOOK SEVEN) is coming out in a few weeks (May 7th, to be exact). I’m really excited to share this new adventure of Jacob Michaels’, er, Rob Wagner’s with you all, and I think you’ll all really enjoy it. More creatures, magic, sass, and sexy times abound!

Recently, The Lion Fish Press sent out blue envelopes to select readers that contained Chase Connor Books bookmarks, a sticker from The Red Rooster Tavern (the fictional tavern in Point Worth/JACOB MICHAELS IS… series), and a sticker from The Juice from Jude (the website/blog that Jude ran in WHEN WORDS GROWN FANGS). I hope everyone has received their envelopes and enjoyed the little treats.

Lately, I’ve been working on something extra spicy. I can’t talk about it much since it’s a surprise, but it’s something that might shock you all. <insert naughty laugh here> More to come on that in the coming months.

Aside from the extra spicy recipe I’m working on, there is a super secret project I’ve just gotten some artwork for…and, well…you’ll all just have to wait. But I will say–pay attention to my Twitter posts, blog posts, and maybe you’ll get a little hint from time to time?

Additionally, I’m working with another author on a big project that many of you will be able to get involved with if you so choose. In the coming months, we’ll be dropping information on Twitter and other social media, on websites, and in newsletters, so that you can all “sign up” if you like. Make sure you’re signed up for the Chase Connor Newsletter and follow me on Twitter!

And all of this is in addition to the two million (give or take) books I’ve already announced will be coming in the future. There’s something wrong with me. I know.

Regardless of how busy I find myself, life is an adventure. With SAM, our fur-baby, writing, the world (such as it is), and day-to-day happenings, I’m rarely bored. I’m loving every minute of it. I hope you are, too!

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Amour, Amor, Amore!

Did you know the average romance book reader discovered the genre between the ages of 11 and 18, ages 30 to 54 make up the biggest market for the genre, 84% of the readers are female, and it’s an industry that brings in between 1.08 BILLION to 1.6 BILLION dollars a year in the U.S. alone? About 39% of the sales now are in digital format (Kindle, Nook, etc.).

When you talk smack about the romance genre, you’re making a lot of enemies.

Now, these statistics are comprised of the romance genre and all of its sub-genres (M/M, historical, Christian, horror, erotica, contemporary, new adult, young adult, and paranormal, to name the prime suspects). However, it is an industry that continues to grow year after year. Romance readers are voracious in their appetites for more books, new stories, and lots of love and emotion.

In fact, the romance book industry is a third larger than the inspirational genre market. It’s also the size of the mystery and sci-fi/fantasy genre markets combined.

It’s big business. It’s valid business.

All of the statistics seem to show that the romance market is growing and no matter how many eyes get rolled at the thought of a romance novel, readers just can’t get enough. While trends show that ebooks make up the lion’s share of sales, mass market paperbacks come in close with 32% of the sales, 18% in trade paperbacks, and 9% in hardbacks. Only 1% of romance books are sold in audiobook format, but statistics show that audiobook sales might be on the rise as well.

So…why do so many authors like to roll their eyes at the genre?

Well, let’s look at what is expected when a reader picks up a romance novel:

A love story is basically what the entire plot revolves around.

Characters are expected to be better-than-average looking (usually).

The “tone” leans towards the flirtatious, if not sexual, and can be anything from swoon-worthy to outright raunchy.

Romance stories can take place anywhere, they are unlimited in their potential settings.

An optimistic and emotionally satisfying ending is expected.

Writers–and I speak from experience–like to consider themselves intellectuals who ponder the human existence. What makes us tick. What is the very essence of the human condition…then write about it. We like to think that we can tell the story how it is meant to be told as it unfurls on the screen before us. We are uncompromising. We are true to our art. We are wordsmiths and raconteurs. There are no limitations or “Do’s and do nots” when we write.

WE WILL NOT LET READERS DICTATE THE STORY–WE WILL DAZZLE THE READERS WITH OUR BRILLIANCE AND BRING THEM TO OUR SIDE WITH OUR AMAZING SKILLS! EVEN IF THE DOG DIES, THEY WILL THANK US IN THE END!

That’s all really a load of garbage.

Readers know what they want when they pick up a story–even more so when they pick up a romance novel. Sure, sometimes we can wow a reader with a story and make them fall in love, even if they got something they didn’t expect when they picked up our book. However, many readers are more satisfied when they pick up a book from a genre and have a general idea of what they are getting themselves into from the get go.

Readers–especially voracious readers–are often up for an adventure and to try new books–but they don’t like being surprised (in an unpleasant way) when they pick up a book in their favorite genre.

When a reader finds a romance novel they love, they tend to be very loyal to the author. One good romance novel can create a life-long customer. A reader will stick with a romance novelist until one or the other perishes. Creepy, but true. When a romance reader knows that a romance writer is dependable, they put them on their “automatic read” list. It’s a good place to hold for a writer–especially if they reach a lot of readers. Having an army of readers ready to hit “Buy Now” when your next offering drops is a career maker.

That’s nothing to sniff at, my friends.

Yet…writers still often turn their noses up when someone says: Romance Novel.

I get it. I really do. I write romance plots into a lot of my books, though I wouldn’t really say I’m a romance novelist. I think there is often too much conflict (and maybe death) in my books to qualify. I’d probably bristle if someone referred to me as such because romance is generally not the central focus of my stories.

Having said that, I’d LOVE to be someone’s favorite romance novelist. Sign your name in blood and join the cult, my minions!

However, I still see the writers’ side of things. The way they feel that romance is an overdone, trite, eyeroll worthy genre. It feels limiting to creativity if you look at it straight on. I mean…readers expect certain things from you and will burn you at the stake if you don’t deliver.

When you really look at the romance genre, though, you can see how freeing it is. Let me explain:

  1. The expectations are determined. There’s no guess work.
  2. You know how to resolve and end your book–happy endings for the leads!
  3. A writer knows what the central plot is before they type a single word.
  4. It’s easier to create a built in audience.
  5. A romance novel can be set in any place (even outer space or a fictional world) or any period of time.

Romance readers just want the feels and the squishy good vibes!

Following those guidelines, a writer can get as creative as they like. Two trans-men fall in love in outer space on a mission to colonize Mars? YAS, QUEEN! A preacher and a teacher time travel back to the Jurassic period and fall in love while trying to survive and find a way home? HELL, YEAH! Two men go do a paranormal investigation of a haunted mansion and fall in love when a spirit they summon tells them they are meant for each other? WHY. THE. FUCK. NOT?

In fact, statistics show that romance readers are leaning more towards paranormal, M/M, sci-fi, and horror stories lately. They’re always looking for something fresh, new, and exciting–yet has the comfort of familiarity.

Romance. They want the love and the happy ending for the main characters you’ve obviously made them fall in love with throughout the story.

A writer can find freedom and creativity in writing romance. They can stretch their muscles and try all kinds of crazy things. They can allow themselves to try writing gentler emotions and be vulnerable with their audience. Most importantly, they can just write.

Isn’t that what we all want to do in the first place?

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase