Finding the right readers has been a big challenge for my first book. It’s a coming-of-age story with equal parts political violence, historical intrigue, and romance. But I’m beginning to realize that maybe readers don’t want all of that other junk complicating a character’s relationships. Maybe they don’t want a raw, real, not-so-happy ending when it comes to love. And infusing your book with social issues and other uncomfortable subject matter? Why bother? No one cares.
Or do they?
This is what I’m trying to figure out. Lately it seems like all of the books skyrocketing up Amazon’s bestsellers list are strictly romances, most of them under the umbrella of New Adult. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I’m wondering where a book like mine will ever fit in. Where the other books I’ve been working on will fit in. One of the bloggers lined up to review my book abandoned it after the first few chapters because it was “too dark.” I totally understood. I expected that reaction from some people. But I’m starting to wonder how the rise in popularity of New Adult romances is going to effect the tastes of readers long term.
Without the influence of gatekeepers, you’d think we’d see an increase in diversity among books being read by the general public. But it feels like there’s been a huge influx of one particular genre and in fiction that closely resembles all of the other guilty obsessions most Americans indulge in on a regular basis—reality television and top 40 pop radio and summer teenage blockbusters.
And while, like I said, there’s nothing wrong with preferring pastimes that are on the lighter side, I’m wondering if people still find value in things that aren’t. In things that are real and multi-dimensional and have some depth. Do people even care about depth anymore? Is that what they really want these days? I’m not sure and that’s a little scary.
I’m curious, has anyone else struggled with finding an audience for work that might be more on the literary side? Is there anyone out there self-publishing something other than genre fiction? And readers, what do you think about New Adult romances? And do you find yourself gravitating more toward lighter reads these days?