Gee, maybe I’m on to something, with my giving 40% of the point of view to the male main character, in Irish Firebrands.
J. B. Garner (“everyone’s favorite struggling author”), in his recent review of a paranormal romance, remarks, “The main PoV character for large sections of the book is the male lead…. Refreshing.”
Perhaps there’s hope for my kind of writing – among the Y-DNA Demographic.
I’m not exactly sure why I wrote Irish Firebrands like that. I’m a pantser, and it just came out with one male and one female POV. Maybe I got it from Zane Grey, because he often wrote his novels that way. I grew up reading a 60-volume matched hardbound set of his western and adventure tales, and I still own and enjoy them. Most of his stories include a strong romance, although none of Grey’s good guys actually wear white hats.
I did do some male character development research while I was writing the story: I needed to know about the kind of home fitness equipment a man might invest in. Having birthed and brought up three testosterone-based life forms, and being the mother-in-law of a fourth, I took my questions to my local focus group.
The consensus was that while a “normal” guy (their description, not mine) would buy only one piece of large exercise equipment, a bodybuilder would own several. Result: one male character owns a treadmill, while another has outfitted his house with a complete home gym, including an attached shower room and a rack stacked with fluffy white towels. (He also has a huge flat-screen TV hanging on the wall over a glassed-in fireplace.)
Garner also commends the paranormal-romance writer for not being afraid “to blaze off of the over-used pathways other writers in this genre have tread.”
Irish Firebrands is Fusion Fiction: it mixes the Contempo-Ro, Boomer-Lit, social controversy, supernatural, visionary-inspirational, and psychological-melodrama genres. As such, it doesn’t always adhere to the traits, tropes, tableaux, and themes that are supposed to be traditional in romance-focused writing. So far, so good.
It’s also a minor-epic-length stand-alone, not a boxed-set novelette. Thus, promotion has focused on how this big story is flexible enough to meet a variety of literary-indulgence needs.
But this approach has also been “gender-generic,” which may not have helped the cause. For example, Irish Firebrands also does not have a bosom-and-biceps cover, which probably inhibits sales to readers of both sexes who look for that sort of thing, when skimming actual and virtual bookshelves for a romance-based read.
Changing curb appeal seems to be an obvious fix. But conversely, the Sixty Shades of Chartreuse phenomenon has a very understated, almost plain-brown-wrapper set of covers, compared to the hordes of headless, half-naked torsos that hunker down on the covers of most love stories. And if there are women who report the embarrassment of having to carry around such covers, there also must be men who prefer not to have some other dude’s pecs and abs pushed under their noses, every time they pick up their current choice of fiction.
Writing is an Art, and there are no Hydra’s Teeth that Authors can sow, which will sprout patrons who come screaming to buy our books. In addition, my sales have undoubtedly suffered because of constraints that are beyond my control. But I did study marketing and professional selling at university, under Dr. Bob Kimball, who also recruited my middle son to act in a marketing video he directed, back in the late ’90s.
I just have to figure out how to bring the content of Irish Firebrands to the attention of the Y-DNA Demographic. Unfortunately, I haven’t met many men who have this kind of eclectic taste in reading (only one of the Plouvier fellas has read his mom’s magnum opus, although the son-in-law is awaiting the audiobook).
Or is Irish Firebrands a sleeper that’s just waiting for its prelude to come out?
Here’s what my market research has found on the Web, so far:
The Romance Genre
Romance stories for men
Smart Men Read Romance Novels
Men Reading Romance: Meet the Romance Man
The Real Men Who Read Romance Novels
Are Men Writing Romance?