Friday, October 7, 2011

Writing a romance for both male and female readers

I think the most pleasant surprise I have had regarding Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream is that men are loving it as much as women.  I knew the story is as much drama as romance, but was afraid the word "romance" in the genre would keep men away. 

Not so.  If you want to write a book that appeals to both sexes, I think that it is important to market it as more than a romance.  I market mine as a Drama/Romance.  That gets both sexes attention. 

Then, use a book description that lets men know that the book is not a womanly, hearts and flowers type of read.  Showing them that there is drama and struggle gets their attention. Letting them know the male character is a major focus is important, too.

The cover is also important.  Although I chose a damn hot-looking man, I purposely decided that I did not want anything but his face showing.  Men are not likely to buy romance novels with bare chested men on the front, unless they like bare chested men.  It is fine with me if men like them, of course.  I am just saying that if you want male readers that are both straight and gay, the bare chest most likely needs to be scrapped.

I have gotten book reviews from male readers.  That means a lot to me.  It tells me that I have not limted my audience.  I am no more expert at this than a lot of people (probably much less than most), but I think that a few factors come into play here.

The novel needs to be gritty, "real" feeling, and show a male character who is human.  A man that makes mistakes, has feelings, but-most importantly-sees and reacts in a way that men normally would.  I think it helps that my main character is a man, too.  If a romance is written from a male perspective, that puts a whole new spin on it.

Give that male character depth, have him struggle.  Don't "womanize" him.  Men and women are equal, but they are definately different.  Allow those differences to be part of your male characters personality and decision making. Still, keep in mind that men feel tenderness, fear, and anxiety, too.  They are not one dimensional "Marlboro" men. Don't insult them by making them all grit and no heart.

If you want male readers, don't make your male character a caricature of what you would want as a perfect man.  They don't exist.  Men won't believe a word of what that caricature says or thinks.  Men have a lot of warts.  So do women. Keeping those warts apparent makes your characters come alive for all readers: male, female, straight, gay, or lesbian.

Sex scenes need to be hot.  I am not saying you have to write a book that is erotica.  I am saying, however, that you need to use graphic words and descriptions if you want a male audience.  Men don't generally enjoy soft, feminine sex scenes that skirt the issue at hand.  Tell it, baby!  This is your chance to "talk dirty to me"-and to them. An awful lot of women want hot sex scenes, too. If you don't know how to write a hot sex scene, read some!  A bolt of lightning won't come out of the sky to get you, I promise.

Men don't only think about sex, though.  They want well rounded, deeply developed characters in novels, just like women do.  Make your male character struggle with decisions, with the fact that he wants one thing, she wants another...and how does he keep her and still stay happy?

Start romancing those male readers, along with the females.  You will be surprised at how much fun it is to write a romance that is grittier, darker, and more apt to appeal to a larger following. Challenge yourself, and watch the men start to notice your writing.

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