It’s hard to please everyone, it’s even harder to please people that do what you do. However, this week, I found a new pet peeve about writers.
I’m almost finished reading a book called Pawn (and you can’t get it yet… it isn’t published, but it is great… more on that later). So, yesterday I began using Amazon’s new feature “Top 100 Authors” in a category. This might not actually be new, but it’s new to me and I decided to use it. I like blood, gore, guts, heavy plots, action, adventure, and just a hint of spine-shivering. I popped over to the Top 100 Horror Authors.
Holy Crap! I expected names like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Blake Crouch, Clive Barker, Joseph Naissee (or how ever it’s spell… I get his newsletter, you’d think I’d be able to spell his name, but there you have it), and JA Konrath/Jack Kilborn. I wasn’t disappointed almost everyone mentioned was on the list. I also picked up a couple of books that have real promise (one by a woman, gasp!).
However, between these great names were some books that definitely looked out of place. Books that had half naked men on the covers and said things like “Blah, Blah, Blah – A Shapeshifter Romance by Person A”
WTF?!?!?!?!? I’m not much of a romance reader. Actually, that’s an understatement, I do not read romance, at all, if left to my own devices. Despite the claim on the cover, it is in the horror genre. After about three hours of speculation, I bought one of these “horror novels.”
The only aspect that was horrific was the categorization. Seriously. It was a romance novel. If I was going to get specific, it would be an Urban Paranormal Romance novel. If I was going to be accurate, it was shapeshifter erotica.
And I get it… There are hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of urban paranormal romance novels. It’s hard to get noticed as a result. There are far fewer horror novels, so it is easier to get noticed. But it’s book classifications like that, that end up hurting people like me. I write a sort of rom-com series. I have an urban fantasy series that has completed. And then I have the Dreams & Reality Series. I would not have classified it as horror, until someone with a lot more knowledge on these things and a description of what qualified as “horror” pointed out to me that they met the criteria.
However, it explains why men are very hesitant to try my books. In the last month, I have had more than 50 men contact me through Facebook to ask if my book was a horror romance. Um, no, there’s no romance. Most of them have contacted me after reading either Tortured or Elysium to tell me how surprised they were to read a “horror novel written by a woman that didn’t contain romance.”
This irritates the shit out of me. There are some great female horror writers, I know, I’ve been reading them lately. Their books have little to no romance. They do have some blood, guts, and gore, a plot with some twists, some creepy imagery that will make you rethink some of your daily habits, and most importantly, no half naked men on the cover.
Just because a book contains a vampire, doesn’t automatically make it a horror novel, folks. Neither does infecting the love of your life with whatever disease or virus you are carrying so that you can be immortal forever (however, I do find the idea of this horrific, because I’m of the mindset that if you know you’re immortal, your maturity level instantly drops… there are no hard choices to make at that point, you can eat the puffer fish that might kill a person if not prepared right or go ahead and bungee jump, because even if the rope breaks, you just pick up the pieces and put yourself back together again and children of immortals are even worse… There’s a reason Zeus acted like a horny teenager in all the myths). Now, if you have antibiotic resistant bubonic plague and you are injecting it into everyone you meet with said disease, then it’s probably a horror novel.
What I took from this flurry of contact was that these “horror novels” were actually hurting my sales and the sales of every other female horror writer who actually writes horror. Male readers in categories such as horror, thrillers, and crime, are a decent chunk of the population. Yet, they automatically look past my books because it has a girl’s name on the cover and as these miscategorized books appear to show, women can’t write horror without a whole lot of romance in them. Which isn’t true and it’s hard to break the stereotype when I’m staring at covers with half naked men on them. When was the last time Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Blake Crouch, or any number of male horror writers put a half naked man on their cover? If you’re like me, you came up with zero. I don’t remember any with scantily clad women on the covers either.
So, writers, please be kind to other writers and realize that if your book is miscategorized, you are reflecting on other writers in that genre. And readers, please don’t lump us all together, some of us really do write the genre we say we right.