Saturday, January 23, 2010

Who Knew It Would Turn Out This Way?

I had one of those unexpected experiences the other day that turns out so different and so much nicer than you ever expected, it stays with you for several days afterwards. And it all happened because I gave away a book to someone I didn't know.

Let me start by saying a couple of months ago I contacted a nearby book club who regularly hosts local authors and expressed an interest in speaking to their group. Well, the leader's reaction was one for the books (no pun intended). Once I told her I wrote romance, she proceeded to inform me her group didn't read "those books". That they read only "important works" and those with "relevant value". Her reaction was so over the top, I actually laughed when I hung up the phone from her (okay, I admit I laughed after suffering about three seconds of mild hurt).

So, when my daughter recently asked me if I would be willing to give a free book to a woman in her college class who headed a book club, I was naturally hesitant. I finally relented and chose one of my earlier Harlequin American's, THE FAMILY PLAN, to give this woman.

Surprise, surprise, this woman emailed me the other day telling me that while she didn't normally read romances, she was "pleasantly surprised" by how much she enjoyed my book and the characters. In fact, she liked the THE FAMILY PLAN so much, she went out and bought two more of my recent releases. Then, she not only invited me to speak to her group, she asked me how much I charge!

I immediately replied that I would love to come speak to her group and that I wouldn't charge. Heck, I'm just so thrilled at the prospect of converting more non-romance readers, I'd probably be willing to pay them! All right, maybe not :)

Isn't it amazing how one experience can be so different from another? And all because I gave away a free book.

Cathy Mc


EllenToo said...

Wasn't the same woman was it???? Now that really would be irony. If not I'm glad at least one woman decided to try something new.

Linda Henderson said...

People can be so narrow minded. I got tired of defending my romance books a long time ago. I've been reading romance since the late 1960's and I'm proud of it. I'm not in a book club because I always figured I wouldn't like anyone telling me what to read. I read what I want and like.

Estella said...

Glad you converted at least one person to a romance reader!

Anonymous said...

I think there are a lot of "closet" romance readers out there. For some reason, they equate romance novels with porn. I'm definitely on the convert-the-closet-readers campaign. Good job, Cathy!

...and don't laugh at the "anonymous" has nothing to do with it:)

Rebecca Lynn said...

I love this post. I have been struggling with writing romance as someone who used to write literary fiction, and who still has a lot of connections in the "elist" world of literary writing. I'm not sure that anyone has said anything specific to me, but when I was doing my MFA, I got a very intentional talk about how "writing a romance novel" doesn't count as a valid thesis project. I found that interesting, since one of my classmates was essentially doing a collection of erotic poetry, and that was okay.

Anyway, if you can't tell, I have a chip on my shoulder. I think there are plenty of romance writers who are excellent writers and who write books that are worth reading (for all of the different publishers). And I keep getting up on my soapbox and talking about how literary fiction doesn't have some kind of a corner on good writing. So it's great to have another place to direct people to explain exactly what I'm talking about.

Thanks again for the great post.


linda s said...

If I had a book club, I would choose you for sure. I gave the pile of romance novels I have finished reading to the nursing home and a seventy one year old man read his first book ever! And loved it!

Nicole S said...

Cathy your books would definitely convert non-romance readers. I'm lucky that the people around me don't give me hard time about reading romance books, they may not be a fan themselves, but they don't knock it.

Cathy McDavid said...

Thank you all for such lovely commments and the support. I'll post later and tell you all how the book club speaking event went.

Linda s, loved the story about the 71 year old man! Rebecca, glad to see we lured you over to the dark side :)

Cathy Mc