Random Thoughts on Strong Heroines, Multi-Author Stuff, Who To Write For

I notice that a lot of romance readers do not like strong heroines.

I think those of you who read my books are the exception.  Often, I hear over and over that people like my sweet heroes and the fact that my heroines aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves.  But when I look at comments I get on Wattpad, the majority of people there hate the fact that Sue Lewis (in An Inconvenient Marriage) is so strong.  There is one chapter in particular where they get especially upset with her.  I’m a lot like Sue Lewis, so when I see their comments, I often wonder, “Would these people like me if they were to meet me in real life?”

Sometimes the strong heroine can come across as a you-know-what.  She can be seen as bossy, temperamental, and rude.  They instinctively feel sorry for the hero, or they think the hero is a wimp for putting up with her.  If only they could see how my marriage is…  My husband is a beta hero.  I am an alpha heroine.  I don’t necessarily act alpha at all times, but when push comes to shove, I’m a Type A personality.  I lead because my husband tends to look to me to make the decisions.  He has a more relaxed and easy-going personality.  So I guess we do write what we know to some degree.

And before you think I became a Type A after marriage, the truth is, I was always a Type A.  My mom used to joke that I was like Lucy in the Charlie Brown TV shows and comics (except I wouldn’t pull the football away from the poor guy).  My mom and sister were both Type B’s.  My dad was a Type A.  I take after him in a lot of ways.  So I guess we can blame my dad for how I turned out. 😛

I think Type A’s and Type B’s naturally complement each other.  The people I have been closest to in life have been Type B’s.  I don’t see Type A women as being rude and overbearing.  I see them as being the type who isn’t afraid to go out and get what they want, but they aren’t usually the most popular personality type.  I think Type A’s (esp. women) tend to rub a lot of people the wrong way unless they suppress that side of their personality (which I do).  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to “tone it down” so I don’t come across so much like a “Lucy”.  My husband, however, might not agree.  But then, he gets to see the real me all the time.  (Lucky guy.  LOL)

Multi-author promotions are only good if an author is with other authors who write books similar to theirs.

I did a boxed set with authors I hadn’t read.  (Well, I had read one of the author’s work.)  I made a serious error in judgment in joining because my book was not a good fit for the set.  The authors in the set all sell very well, so they write books that a lot of romance readers want.  Judging by the reviews, these authors write alpha heroes.  Looking back, I realize the best thing I could have done was decline to join.  It probably would have been best for those authors if I had because over and over the consensus among the readers who were familiar with those authors did not like my hero because he was a “wimp”.

It was a good experience because it taught me that when doing a multi-author set of any kind, it’s best to join if the stories will complement each other.  You want authors similar to you to work with.  Otherwise, you’re going to piss off the audience and possibly hurt the other authors in group.  (I hope I didn’t hurt sales for any of the other authors I was in that set with.)  So I guess that would be my advice to any authors reading this is to make sure you are a good fit for the authors you are working with.

On the debate of “write to market” or “write for yourself”…

I love self-publishing.  It has given me the freedom to write the exact story that I want.  I don’t have to write something a publisher wants me to do.  I can create the stories and characters the way I want.  That doesn’t mean I don’t ask for opinions from people who like my books.  Their opinions are very important to me.  I started writing the stuff I did without any feedback because I had no author platform at the time I began publishing.  To be honest, I didn’t think anyone else in the entire world wanted to read the kinds of romances I was doing.  But since then, I have been fortunate to meet people who actually enjoy my work, and now I take them into consideration with every book I write.  I’m no longer just writing for me.  I’m writing for them, too.

There’s a huge debate on whether to “write for yourself” or “write to market”.  I know of authors who write specifically for a popular market, and they do very well.  This is going to have to be something you decide on.  I happened to love historical romances and the tropes already popular in the genre (marriage of convenience, arranged marriage, mail-order brides, just to name a few) when I began writing romances.  However, I’m a big fan of beta heroes, and those tend not to be as popular in the genre as alpha heroes are.  So I mix and match.  I can’t write completely to market.  To do so would make me lose interest in the story.  But I don’t completely exclude the market when I write.

As you write, I think you’ll find your comfort zone.  I don’t think it has to be one extreme or the other.  I think there’s wiggle room.  Writing somewhat for yourself will probably mean less sales.  I don’t sell as well as I probably could if I were to write completely to market.  Now, if you’re writing for a publisher, then you need to write for the publisher’s market.  Otherwise, the publisher won’t take the book.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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14 Responses to Random Thoughts on Strong Heroines, Multi-Author Stuff, Who To Write For

  1. I guess I like something a little between the alpha and beta male. I tend to be an alpha female too, mostly because I don’t have any choice. And even if I did, I would hate to turn into a ‘wimpy girl.’ I’m just too independent for that. But it sure would be nice to have someone not only share the load but to actually say, “Hey, I got this” sometimes.

    As for the write to market thing…. I kind of do but I kind of don’t. If there’s a popular genre that I enjoy writing, why not? Unfortunately, there are too many popular genres I refuse to write so my choices are limited. 🙂

    • A lot of times, I don’t have a choice but to be an alpha female. In this house, if I wasn’t, nothing would get done. I have to be alpha. Yes, it would be nice to have someone share the load sometimes.

      I’m the same. I refuse to write in some popular genres, too, and I refuse to write some subjects that are extremely popular. My faith has a lot to do with what I do and don’t write. In the end, I have to be true to that part of my life. (I know you’re the same way so you know what I’m talking about.)

  2. I’m like you…a Type A who often suppresses it. I don’t see the Type A in you come out a lot, but I have seen it. 🙂

    I’m not sure I ever want to do a set with other authors again. I might do one with only one other author, but a multiple author set…no. I had a good experience with one boxed set, but not so good with another one I did. There were things I didn’t know would happen until later. Things I had no control over.

    I was really lucky when I first started publishing. I was always a huge fan of vampire stories, and I started about the time that was really popular both in books and on TV. So I got to write both to the market AND for myself. And the money was good back then. That time has really passed. When I published Fire Wizard, it was a book I really loved, but apparently not many people cared about a fire wizard. I wrote that one for myself. I started my other pen name for a couple of reasons. One was because I never felt like I could share my writing with my church family because of the paranormal. And also, I love cozy mysteries, and there’s a market for that. No matter what else comes and goes, there always seems to be a market for historical romance, mysteries, and thrillers. Now to just learn best HOW to market. 🙂

    • You strike me as such a Type B. LOL I wouldn’t have guessed you were an A. You suppress it better than I do.

      Lack of control is a good reason not to join boxed sets. There are things I could join or do with other authors, and they sound fun, but the lack of control would bother me. I got into self-publishing to have control.

      I wish we could go back to 2010-2012. The market was so different and author friendly back then. Now it feels like you have to keep producing books at breakneck speed to even stay relevant. I enjoy writing, but there are days when I’m totally exhausted. I don’t respond to emails nearly as much as I used to because I run out of time.

      As you know, I love your work. I enjoyed The Fire Wizard. (I really love The Gnome, Hearts of Evil, and Soul of a Vampire, but those all play into my love for horror to some degree.)

      I understand what you mean about loving a story that didn’t go over well. Taming The Viscountess is already falling off the charts. It was published on Sunday, and when I checked my sales report this evening, I’m pretty much back to selling what I was last week. So that book is a failure. I really think it was the heroine. Celia was too strong, and most romance readers don’t like that. If Celia was the hero, then I think the book would be doing better. So I’m not going to be writing Lady Eloise’s romance. I’ve had a couple of requests, but there’s no way that book would have a chance of selling, so she will not be a redeemed character. I’ll have to destroy her and move on. (I was debating what to do with her, and after seeing the sales on Taming, I know the answer.) As much as I’d like to say we can write whatever we want, the truth is, we can’t because this is a business.

      I guess part of the business is sticking with the tried and true stuff that the market will always want, regardless of fads.

      I was wondering, how receptive has your church family been to your pen name?

      • Oh, I’m totally a Type A. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to control a lot of the bossiness, the uptight feelings, the freaking out over stuff, the controlling stuff, etc. It makes life SO much easier. But I won’t let anyone walk on me. That’s where I draw the line at being laid back and easy going.

        The market was so much easier to break into back in the “good old days” of publishing. A big problem is that there are a lot of books out there not worth reading, but good books get lost in all those. And I blame Amazon for a lot of it, too. A LOT of it.

        I hate that Taming the Viscountess isn’t doing well. I loved that book. I like strong women AND strong men. I also like sweet and kind men as heroes. I love it when you can combine all that together. I like both alpha and beta heroes. I like all kinds of “sheroes”. I think that’s what makes books interesting…when you have all kinds of main characters. I like things to change up a bit. But there are just some readers who like only one kind of male character and one kind of female character. And they read those same kinds of romances over and over. That’s why I read other things besides romance. I need a change now and then.

        It’s funny about that pen name. A lot of people know about it. It’s there very plain on my “real” Facebook page. The preacher even announced once that there was an author in our midst. But no one ever says anything about it or asks me anything. I talk about my editing, but not much about the writing. I’m trying to let that conversation come from someone else. I’m a little disappointed, but I don’t really care that much. My family, including my cousins and one uncle who reads EVERYTHING I write, are all on board. And my mom is my biggest fan. 🙂

        • I applaud you for not letting people walk on you. Too many will if you let them. Sometimes we have to take a stand.

          I agree. There are so many books out there that it is hard to get noticed. I wouldn’t mind it so much if all of the people writing them were serious about the craft, but there are a lot of scammers who are trying to rig the system at Amazon, and it does make things harder for the innocent parties.

          Maybe that’s why I read multiple genres, too. I love variety. I love delving into different characters types and plots. Even though I love reading horror, I am getting annoyed by too many endings that end up as a cliffhanger or uses the “evil is still there to terrorize someone else in the future” as a way to throw a twist into it. I like a clean ending. So I’ve been taking a break from those stories.

          That’s a bummer that your church family hasn’t shown more support. I have another friend who has experienced the same thing, except she did go around and mention her first book when it came out. In the end, she was told to her books weren’t welcome there. She was so hurt that she cried for months. Ironically, her book contained Christian stories in it. I kept thinking, “What a way to show the love of Christ to your fellow believers.” I can understand why people can be turned off by Christians when this kind of thing happens.

          I decided early on that I wouldn’t tell anyone in my real life circle (besides close friends and family) that I even wrote books. The reception is not always positive. And since my side of the family thinks romance is trash, I don’t share anything about the stuff I write. My husband’s side has been more encouraging. Over the years, I have developed an “online” family (which you are a part of), and I feel closer to you guys than I do most in my real life. I think it’s because when I’m online sharing my books, I am my true self.

  3. Mary McCall says:

    As I reflect on your comments, I think back on my former bosses. While male bosses were applauded for alpha personalities and approaches to leadership, female bosses were thought of negatively if they were strong, confident women. The glass ceiling was firm and nearly impenetrable. And Yet, She Persisted! Yay You, for having a millennial approach to relationships! Women were not meant to be timid and have the vapors around men. It’s possible to have equality in relationships, and depend on each other for strength, support and guidance. I think many men appreciate having the pressure removed from them, to be ALL in the relationship-m to have an equal, dependable partner.

    • I hate that male and female bosses are seen so differently. I know the bias exists, and I wish it didn’t.

      I know women in real life who do depend on their husbands for everything. They can’t function unless he takes the lead. I worry what will happen to them when their husbands die. As for me, my husband prefers it if I lead. I think it does relieve him of a lot pressure. He hates pressure. He’s always chosen jobs where he follows orders because of it. I don’t mind taking charge, but I am often seen as cold and harsh with members of the family because I do.

      • Mary McCall says:

        They Can’t know you very well. Your warmth and humor shines through on every page of your books!

        • I think it’s because I talk about wills and what to do to take care of his parents who are in their seventies. I don’t ever want them to go into a nursing home. Their care will be my top priority. But if the day comes when they can’t take care of themselves in their home which is out of the city, I think it’d be a good idea to move them to an apartment so they are close to the clinic and grocery store. Also, if I did have to hire a nurse to come in to help them, it would be easier for the nurse if they were downtown. This probably strikes them as gloom and doom talk, which pins me as cold and harsh. 🙂 I’m not trying to be cold or harsh. I’m trying to prepare for the future, just in case it comes to that.

          Thanks, Mary! I appreciate the lovely compliment. You have always been a huge source of encouragement to me over the years, and to be honest, you’re one of the few people who convinced me to keep writing when I wanted to give up. 🙂

  4. Ruth Ann, your comments on female heroines gave me a new perspective on reader interest when it comes to character personalities. We’ve got an A-type female villain, driving the action in our yet to be published story, but it’s the male hero who’s been given the most kudos from early reviews. Though we are writing a Sci-fi adventure, your comments have merit to a deeper understanding of how readers may choose or choose not.
    Sandy of DDWLEM

    • That’s interesting that your male hero has gotten so much positive feedback. Is he also a Type A?

      I love a strong female villain. I always find the story more interesting if it’s the female who’s a villain instead of a male. I think it’s because the male villain is done a lot. I’m the type of person who likes things when they’re different.

      In romance, I’m starting to realize that going against what is popular doesn’t work well for an author. Strong heroines just don’t attract the majority of readers. I just published the book on Sunday, and sales are already back to what they were before I published it. So in my opinion, it was a failure. I will not be writing another strong heroine unless it’s a book I don’t plan to make any money off of.

      I’m not sure how the Sci-fi adventure market is for strong female villains. I hope those readers are much more receptive to it than romance readers would be.

      • I just want to weigh in here on the Sci-Fi market. I do think that strong female villains would go over well in the Sci-Fi arena. I might be wrong, but I hope not. Sci-Fi readers are much different than the typical romance reader who wants their heroes and “sheroes” to be a certain way. You can do a lot of different things with Sci-Fi.

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