Historical Readers – Go Forth and Multiply!

He-he-he.  Nice title for a blog, no?

Romance Writers of America offers a contest every year for published authors  called the RITA (not to be confused with that glass of frozen yuminess called “the Maragrita” 🙂 ).  While in the past, the contest rules lRITA_wservmarktextimited the number of finalists to eight or ten – forget which, in 2014 the contest rules said any manuscript that reached a very, very high number of points would be a finalist.  This year in San Antonio there were seventeen finalists – seventeen really excellent historical romances!

And yet…

The news from the marketplace says historical romances are selling far below that of contemporaries (which, BTW, had eighteen finalists in the RITA).  I’ve heard that this is just a pendulum swing – one year historicals are hot, the next they are not.  I’ve heard this market slump is because younger readers aren’t interested in historicals.  I’ve heard that readers were turned off by the historical romances of old and don’t realize that historicals have changed.

But then – I don’t care.

I should modify that to say – I don’t care about the reasons for the market slump, I’d just like to see it reversed.  I suspect that many readers would really enjoy a historical romance if they thought of it and were open to historicals (some people are not).

So here’s what I propose to do.  I’ll send an historical romance – either mine or someone else’s as I have an overflowing pile here – to anyone you tag as someone who might enjoy anbook_stack historical.  It can’t be the name of someone who regularly comments on the blog – I’d prefer it to be someone brand spanking new.  Someone who will be pleasantly surprised to get a book in the mail – or over the internet.  Now, I’m going to need a snail address and email address (to let them know it’s coming and who is responsible so they’ll know who to thank 😛 ) but I don’t want you to post that information in this public venue – so please go to www.DonnaMacMeans.com to send me that information.  For the blog, give me a name and tell me the sort of book she normally reads. That way I’ll have a little insight as to which book to send.   If you have a theory as to why historical romances aren’t selling as they once were – share that as well.  Just send one name, though, as I’m paying for this out of my pocket and – Untitled-3did I mention historicals are in a slump?

If all goes well, we’ll do this again.  Let’s share the awe-inspiring pleasure of a good historical romance.


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  • Amy Conley says:

    And he is staying.

  • Deanna says:

    How awesome and what a great way to get someone started on reading historicals. I personally love historicals and they are the first romances that I ever read. The first historical author for me was Johanna Lindsay and some Mills and Boons Historicals that I can’t even remember the title and author of. I am going to nominate my friend Tessa as she mostly reads contemporaries and paranormals. It will be fun for her to receive something different from what she normally reads, I think. Thank you for doing this.

    • Hi Deanna –

      Let me send her my historical paranormal, Bound by Moonlight. It’s definitely historical with an invisible heroine to appeal to her paranormal side. I’m a Johanna Lindsay fan myself. I think I’ve read every one of books. Thanks for submitting Tessa’s name. You’ll a good friend, Deanna!

      • Deanna says:

        Thank you so much, Donna. I’m sure she will love it. Will you please be so kind as to address it to her and sign it? She’s never had a signed book before and I know she would appreciate it. xxx

  • Amy Conley says:

    I have two names. My sil, Allison Barsalow- Williams is a voracious reader, and she will read almost anything, but I think, from going through her bookshelves, historicals are her least favorite, for some strange reason.

    The second would be my sister, Catherine Anderson Hanged. Partlh because I read fhem, she won’t ( yep, in iur 50’s and still have this rivalry thing going on). She used to read historicals, but I think my mother brainwashex her into believing there wasn’t anything but sex in them. She reads mostly mysteries and she would LOVE a series like Deanna Rayborne’s LADY JUKIA series. I know there are other series out like that, but that one came to mind first.

    • Amy –

      I don’t think I have any Deanna Rayborne’s here. I’ve given out a lot of historical mysteries and I’m afraid that one was pretty popular. Maybe we should go with your SIL and a straight historical. Send me her info and I’ll pick out a good one.

      • Amy Conley says:

        Donna we have had some wild storms come through here tonight and I am assuming that is why the website would not send the info for either my sister or sil. I will try again later in the morning. And thank you so much.

        • Amy – We got those storms the other night. The lightning strikes felt so close – the house shook as if someone had fired a cannon there. Woke my husband up and scared the cat to run up under my bed (her safe spot).

          Send the info in an email through the contact form on my website. http://www.DonnaMacMeans.com. That way it goes in a special cache and I’ll be sure to find it.

  • Helen says:

    Hi Donna

    What a great idea I love histoircals and always have and I too have read Johanna Lindsey along with so many fantastic historical authors but you know the majority of my reading friends read historicals LOL I am always going on about them I really can’t think of any of my family or friends that read that don’t read historicals but I do hope the sales build back up for them as I am sure they will 🙂

    Have Fun

    • Helen –

      I think they will as well but it can never hurt to solicit new readers to the genre. 🙂

      Thank you for being such a loyal fan. You know we love you in the lair!

  • Mary Preston says:

    What a fabulous idea thank you. I’d actually love to get my daughter enthused about historical romance. She does read. but poopooh’s this beloved genre . I have a diabolical plan. Her birthday is coming up & she ALWAYS reads books given to her for her birthday & if it is signed – well that would tip the scales even more.

    Once she is hooked, she will no doubt spread the word amongst her book-reading friends.

    I’ll send through her information.

    • Mary –

      If it’s signed, it has to be one of my books (not sure I have any other signed other-author books in my pile). I’ll send her a copy of Redeeming the Rogue and maybe we’ll “redeem” your daughter’s reading choices 🙂 unless you think she’d like one of the other books more. Let me know.

      Any idea why she poopoohs historicals? Just curious.

    • Got the info. Thanks Mary.

  • Shannon says:

    Oh, what a wonderful idea. There are my friends who would never, ever read a romance. I have one friend Julia who reads straight historical fiction and has been asking me because I do an internet search when Hilary Mantel next book on the Earl of Essex would come out. I have an acquaintance, Gail, who once told me she liked one author’s Scottish/English romances. I know her snail mail, but not her email.

    If you’re looking for a new to you author, I’d also recommend Read a Romance website. http://www.readaromancemonth.com/ But August is almost over, so the contests are ending, too. But lovely essays on the value of romance.

    • pjpuppymom says:

      Shannon, Bobbi is planing to extend RARM through September with one essay per day. Not sure if the contests will continue but worth checking out. 🙂

    • Shannon –

      I’d send her my Scottish/English historical but it’s only available digitally 🙁 . But I think I have another Scottish historical in my TBR pile. Not sure if it’s Scottish/English though :-). How about Redeeming the Rogue? That’s Irish/English?
      Let me know –

  • catslady says:

    I have been a historical reader since forever and luckily have never found a lack of books to read. I think publishing houses try to sway readers for different genres but although I read a bit of everything, historicals are my favorite. I am going to be sending you my grown daughter’s name – I have not been able to convince her and maybe you can if I win lol.

    • Got your info, catslady –

      Hmmm…she likes Oprah books. Those are always lyrically written with a sad, sad ending. Let’s go the opposite direction and send her something fun. Let’s go with The Casanova Code as I tend to think of that as a more fun historical…but I’m open to sending her another author. Can anyone give me the name of an historical writer with a funny touch?

      • catslady says:

        Personally, I think Casanova Code is a wonderful choice but of course I would want to borrow it since I’ve not had the chance yet lol.

  • sandyg265 says:

    My Mom likes mysteries and paranormal books – especially Lynsay Sands’ vampire books and Heather Graham’s Crewe of Hunters. But she won’t try a historical romance even though she likes history. She doesn’t have email but I’ll send you her address.

  • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    I honestly don’t know that many readers of any genre anymore in my offline life. I have been a historical fan from the get go.

    • Isn’t that the way anymore Dianna? We have our normal “real people” community and then we have our on-line community that, in many ways, we’re closer to than the face-to-face folks. I remember hearing about fifteen – twenty years ago that the upcoming trend was “cocooning” and I thought that would never happen – but it has. Guess I should listen to those that actually do these studies.

  • Heathercm2001 says:

    Great idea Donna! That’s so awesome of you! I think my sister would love historicals if she tried them. She’s been reading a lot of Young Adult lately, but has read some other stuff. It took me a while to give historicals a try. I guess I thought I wouldn’t enjoy them, but I was foolproof wrong. They suck me in more than I thought they would, and I can relate to the characters more than I expected. I guess I have an old soul. 🙂

    • Heather –

      Got your info.

      You know, my daughter reads young adult but she doesn’t read historicals. I thought it was because she didn’t want to read that her mother knew about sex 🙂 . Do you think she’d like Outlander? I have an extra copy. It’s not exactly a romance but it’s the book that got me reading romance.

      • Heathercm2001 says:

        I think she will. I’m still working on it…sigh. I have been watching the show, however, but I’m still not through the first 50 pages. I had a few reading responsibilities pop up. I’m still determined to finish it though. It will happen.

        • I understand. Those first 55 pages are slow, slow, slow. But when you get to the part where she slips back in time you won’t be able to put the book down. Heck – skip those first 55 pages. They don’t tell you anything you absolutely need to know anyway. Start with her back in time. If it doesn’t make sense, then maybe you have to go back to read the pages – but I bet you’ll be able to figure it out.

  • Caren Crane says:

    I think Dianna has a real point about people just not reading much. Except for my writer friends (and my family members), most people I know don’t read much. There are a number of women at work who do read – some very quickly and at a high rate of book consumption – who I’ve tried to steer toward some of my favorite romance authors. Some won’t go there at all. They have no real reason, other than they just don’t like “those kinds of books,”

    One coworker who reads a lot won’t read romance, but has at least tried some romantic suspense and erotica. Not the greatest picks of either subgenre, IMO, but at least she has tried some. But historicals? Those are a hard sell unless you start them off with something like Daphne DuMaurier and ease them in. I have no idea why!

    I have a friend who is a huge fan of the Outlander series and also the Twilight series. But trying to get her to venture away from those to other great series has been a non-starter. And, btw, I can’t get any of these women to try any of MY books, either. It’s a little odd!

    • Caren –
      That is odd.
      Now I admit there was a time when I would have laughed at the idea of reading a romance. Of course, at the time, I thought all romances were Harlequins and the historicals were all written by Barbara Cortland. I was a reading snob! But romances have changed, the covers have changed. I sought out romances after reading Outlander. I hope others will read something they connect with. You never know…

  • flchen1 says:

    What a fun thing to do, Donna! I have to admit that when I first started reading romance again, I was a strictly contemporaries kind of reader. I stumbled across Susan Kay Law’s Marry Me, and that began my tumble down the slippery slope into historicals and all kinds of other genres. And well, now my TBR is truly a mountain 😉 I agree that a lot of readers have mental block about romance–still weird notions of bodice rippers maybe? And all that talk of “mommy porn” did romance no favors, alas… A well written historical though is gold!

    • Yeah, my doctor (a woman) referred to it in those terms. I don’t think she meant it in an insulting fashion – but anything-porn isn’t something one shouts from the rooftops. 🙂

      I haven’t read Marry Me, but now I want to. I’ll have to find it and move it to my teetering TBR pile 🙂