Same-Old, Same-Old

Publishers have long believed that if a particular story sells well, then their best move is to inundate the market with that type of story. To some extent, they’re right. (Though I’m a firm believer that the lack of variety is largely responsible for driving a great many readers from the romance genre completely.) You want a vampire book? We’ll give you a hundred. Secret babies your thing? Here’s a whole passel of them. Or do you prefer millionaire heroes? We’ve got billions of ’em on our list.

This can be both good and bad. If you’re intrigued by the idea of someone waking up in a whole new world, not knowing even his/her own name, then the simple mention of “amnesia” in a blurb will draw you in. If you’ve sworn you won’t read one more word about adorable precocious kids — his, hers or anyone else’s — then “secret baby” or “family” will make you put that book back so quickly its pages won’t stop fluttering until you’re long gone.

I’m not much on hooks. I never read a Navy SEAL book that I found remotely accurate in its depiction of either the Navy or the SEALs. (Too many years as a Navy wife.) Granted, I haven’t read that many, because as soon as I see the magic word, I run the other way. Ditto with vampire books. Demons. Futuristic/alternate-reality warriors. Super-secret covert agencies full of prime hero material agents. Ooh, serial killers . . . kill me now, please, before I have to see another! 

On the other hand, I like fantasy. Medieval romance. Funny witches. And yeah, I do find the idea of waking up not knowing who you are pretty intriguing. “Amnesia” will always make me flip through the book, read the front matter and the first few pages. I may not buy it, but it stands a way better chance of going home with me than one about a cowboy or a virgin or a mistress.

So how you feel about the same-old, same-old? Do you love a particular type of story? Are there any hooks you avoid even knowing you might be missing out on a great book? Is your hunger so great that you’ll read one blood-sucker after another . . . or one knitting book after another . . . or one cowboy millionaire book after another? Or do you get hook overload and wish for a little more variety to choose from?


11 thoughts on “Same-Old, Same-Old

  1. Marilyn,

    I heard a panel one day where a Silhouette editor told a group that she couldn’t get enough secret baby or cowboy millionaire stories. I sat there in the audience thinking, “this is why I don’t buy Silhouette books!”

    I get in a mood for something and then read it voraciously. I got in the mood for vampires several years ago, but that has run its course. I no longer read many of them.

    I will always buy medievals because I get in the mood for knights in shining armor. I will always buy Regencies because so much gets done in dialog and through fancy manners…

    I like some things and avoid others. I won’t touch another demon hero except maybe Gena Showalter’s books…

    I love books written with humor. I like action or plot based stories. I will put up with crummy characterization if the plot is engaging. I’m different that way. spw

    • You and me both on the Silhouettes. I do buy some, but hardly a fraction of what I used to. When Intimate Moments changed to Romantic Suspense, my first thought was “there go more of our readers out the door.” My second was “do I need to find a new home???” Back as IM, there was usually a good variety of stories: straight romances, paranormals, suspenses, comedies. Now it’s all suspense, and those readers who liked the variety kissed us goodbye.

      I glom authors, but I’ve never glommed a specific type of book. You are different!

      Funny thing — I’ll put up with bad characterization in favor of a good plot . . . AS LONG AS IT’S NOT A ROMANCE. I hold romance authors to a higher standard. Characterization and emotion are the building blocks of our stories, so I ALWAYS expect those two things to be done well in a romance. The rest is just icing.

      • Marilyn,

        I have to agree with you on that one. There is more of an expectation of good characterization in a Romance. I get in the mood for specific types of stories…. But I’m never in the mood for some. I like historicals but not Civil War era. When I’m in the mood for mysteries, it’s all I’ll read for weeks. Then all of a sudden, I’m in the mood for something else. spw

  2. I like a variety. Although, I have to admit, I’m not much for the millionaire or medical books. And it didn’t take me long to get tired of the vampire books, either. Do like suspense. No surprise there since that’s what I write. 🙂

    Whatever it is, it has to be a good read. The characters have to suck me in and hold me to the end.

    • So you wouldn’t be interested in a book called MARRYING THE MILLIONAIRE MEDICAL MAN’S MISTRESS? 😉

      Ugh. Stupid titles — that’s a whole other blog post.

      Ditto on the characters. But these days, so many hooks send me screaming the other way that I don’t get a chance to meet the characters. Sigh.

  3. I read the same-ole, same ole, but I LOVE it when someone introduces me to one of their favorites.

    A person’s favorite book, to me, tells a lot about them and I read to understand other people’s view of the world. So baby-momma, baby-daddy drama, secret babies, vampire-werewolf star crossed love triangles, demon spawn with the heart of gold, mermaids in love with land walkers, elves, sprites, female assassins, down low, in the closet brothers or others… WHATEVER. If you give it to me and tell me it changed your view of life or it’s your favorite book I will read it and then ask what you liked most about the book.

    SO much fun!

    • You’re refreshing, RD! I’m selfish when I read: my entertainment is all that matters.

      Now, if someone gives me a book and says, “I LOVED this. You need to read it,” then I will, even if it has every hook, stereotype and cliche in exstence. (At least I’ll give it a shot.) And sometimes I do find a book I like — even love — in spite of all the stuff that normally turns me off.

      Someday I’m going to sit down and make a list of my all-time favorite books. I’ve never done that, but it’d be interesting to see how my tastes have changed over the years.

  4. I love a good suspense, but if I want to disappear into a book, I’ll still pick up Harry Potter!
    I guess I am character driven reader. I do like some of the same thing: Tess Gerritsen, Kathy Reichs–murder, mahem, and ?

    • Murder, Mayhem and Meg. 🙂

      I do love Harry Potter, and it’s about time for my annual rereading. Wonder where I put them . . .

      I’ve never read Reichs, though I do like Bones. I’ll have to give her a shot.

  5. It seems like every suspense I read for ages had a super-creepy, super-evil serial-killer villain, and it was like a contest to see whose villain could kill his victims in the most gruesome way. I don’t like the violence of most serial-killer books, and there are just so MANY of them. It seems sometimes that a lot of authors have forgotten there are other ways to craft wonderful suspense stories without falling back on the serial killer.

    On the other hand, I LOVE “Crimnal Minds” and watch it probably 8-10 hours a week. But then, it’s the characters I love.

    I love authors whose humor I get. Sadly, the last funny book I read was billed as hilarious and snarky and LOLPMP funny. I’m not sure I even cracked a smile.

  6. I tend to read the same type of book for weeks on end.
    Then I’ll switch to something else. My favorites: secret baby, marriage of convenience, vampires, most paranormals, serial killers (Oh, yeah! And the gorier, the better. What can I say? I’m a monster. 🙂 )
    Dislikes: Angels (except yours, MJP. Have to admit I thought I’d have to force myself to read your Bethelem books, but instead, I couldn’t read them fast enought), demons (except Janet Louise Roberts), and straight chick lit.
    Right, the main thing I’ve been reading is contest entries.

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