As a writer of contemporary romance with a novel to sell I am clear about my target market. Now I’m not a fan of pigeon holes. Or of sweeping judgements which attempt to predict character by demographic. But having issued that disclaimer, please bear with me as I litter this post with offensive generalisation. It’s the grubby truth of marketing, and I accept that having a criteria on which to base your marketing efforts does make sense.
To ensure the best response to my own marketing, I carefully researched my target audience. Ok, that’s a lie. I gave it my best guess. I mean we’re talking contemporary romance. How hard can it be? Young women of average intelligence education. We all know that it’s the dreamy lasses who want to read about gorgeous hunks – men who will love them completely, and whose hearts they will mend. Passion, adoration (and a soupçon of scorching-but-meaningful rumpy-pumpy). The cynical mid-lifers (of which I am one, which should have told me something as I am writing this stuff) have been there, done that and thrown away the t-shirt. Some have nurtured ill will against romance ever since the departure of husband number three. And the highly educated know enough to understand that it’s all a load of fanciful tosh, they are busy improving their literary minds with important books.
The elderly? Please. You need to ask? As for men, well we all know that their perfect relationship is straight-forward (willing woman – leg over – meat pie for dinner. Depart to watch the match). If the match is showing widescreen at the pub, we have our happy-every-after. I warned you that this would be offensive.
If you are ranting at me right now, please take some solace in knowing that I now understand the folly of these collective ‘isms’. They are wrong, wrong and wrong again. We are indeed all romantic fools at heart. Take if you will as an example, the lovely letter I received this week from a farmer. A man who I happen to know is the wrong side of 60 (strike that, let’s make it the right side of 60!) He qualified his letter with the fact that he wasn’t much of a book reader, preferring the Farmer’s Weekly. He reads, he tells me, one book a year, on his holiday. He usually chooses a romance (did you see that coming? If not – shame on you.) That letter made my week. And there is the card I received in the post from an octogenarian. The photographs sent to me of my book in exotic locations, despatched by a woman who holds rank in City banking. The builder I met in Tesco who apologised for having not read my novel yet. I countered his apology with one of my own; “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, what do you usually read?” His reply – “Mills & Boon.” I misjudged, again.
One of my closest friends is on husband number three. I realise now that this fact alone is a credit to her faith in true love. Isn’t that really the message of every romance? And she’s read the book three times. Happy endings, I find, can bring a tear to the most hardened of eyes. Boo sucks demographic. You don’t know us at all.