Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sometimes it's a bad fit

CJ Hollenbach who wrote a book on being a model for romance covers--
back then they still had hair on their chests, sometimes

Last blog I discussed small groups meeting to work on their books. There is something else out there in the writing world with large conferences held by different groups but pretty much open to any romance writer who lives nearby or is willing to travel. Some of these meetings are totally about learning the craft of writing. Others have scheduled fun events. Preface: what I know about all of them comes from reading as I have not gone to any.

For this summer my writing world has revolved around the craft of writing. I have edited every story I have put out (and two I haven't). Editing like this doesn't involve the most creative aspect of writing which is creating characters, dialogue, and plot etc. This is about word for word making the writing flow as well as I am capable of doing. Unfortunately my ability with the craft of writing has grown the more I write, which has meant each story has places I can upgrade what I had originally written. I say unfortunately because it is a lot of detail and anal work which definitely is not what I most like.

While doing this work, I take breaks. Some of those involve going outside or housework. Some are to surf around the internet, following up threads which might be political, personal, or literary. In following a craft thread, I came across the image above and it led me down a rabbit hole-- in a manner of speaking. 

Before that surfing, I had never heard of the above cover model, nor had I seen him on a book. From what I learned, he was posing during the years I was writing romances but not reading them at all. I learned though that he has written a book about being a cover model. I also came across the following link which describes the kind of conference I used to read about years back in one of the romance writer magazines. 


I hope that link works as it takes you to a pdf of a 2007 article by a journalist-- IN SEARCH OF THE NEXT ROMANCE NOVEL COVER MAN -- by Joshuah Bearman. The article describes the men competing in that contest and also the women who were attending that conference. (This contest incidentally is no longer part of RT conventions as of 2011).

The article describes why men entered such competitions and likely why they still put out their images for indie writers to hopefully buy and use on their books. For some they desire to get into acting. Others consider it a sideline. A really top cover model, such as Fabio years ago, can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. He branched out into writing romances and other money-making enterprises. So for the ones who succeed, it can be a lucrative career.

The article though also described something more-- why many years ago, I decided, even though I love to write romances, I'd never fit in certain conventions. I might have thought that was then and this is now-- except I have read it discussed by current authors as they talk about the 'fun' at some of their big events. Again, this is not all the conferences out there. It's the one with a costume ball, contest for hunky guys and 'fun' events. To be totally honest, at events like that, I would be a wet blanket. 

It's not that I saw what was described in the article, or I've heard writers talk about, as being wrong. In some ways, I envy those who can let loose that way, but it's not me. It wasn't even me when I was a kid in high school. To this day I have never been to a beer bust. Who would have invited me? Everybody knew I was the serious one. It's not that I am the religious one. I am not. It's purely personality type (and when I took those personality tests years ago, I came out being like 5% of the population or less).

I read the above article with a grimace as I imagined myself being at one of those big events and trying to fit in. I would not. And it's not that I don't admire handsome men. I write about them and put their images on my own covers. I am not too old to smile when I see a hot male body (beautiful woman too). But ogling it or making comments about how hot it is, voting for one man over the others in a beauty contest, that's not happening. It's not that I couldn't probably fake it if required but why would I want to?

I am not sure what all this means. I've been told for years that I should go to such events for support and networking, that it'd be good for me. I certainly could travel to some, but it would be expensive and would it really be worth that level of cost? I am sure writers there can skip the contests, etc. but then do they make the friends they were hoping to find-- the friends with whom they could then schedule individual retreats such as I described in the last blog? 

Mostly when such big groups were recommended to me in the past it was about getting connections with book editors with the idea of having a manuscript read-- except, I had mine read via the query letter route but the problem was in the manuscripts not being 'romance' enough. So what's the answer to that?

Lately I've been thinking that maybe I should stop surfing or even the marketing things they say a writer should do. It's in those situations or settings online, when I feel the most out of place, frustrated, and once in awhile even teary. I am relatively sure at a convention with costume balls, I'd have the same issues crop up.

Instead maybe I should stick to writing, making the books as good as I can, and if nobody else promotes them or finds them, well that's how it goes. At least I won't be out there in the social media feeling like an outcast or that proverbial wet blanket who just can't get into the fun and ruins it for others.  

In that vein I spent some time updating two of my book oriented blogs-- Rainy Day Romances and Romance with an Edge. The first is specific to my books while the second is more general to what I am trying to accomplish with my writing. Describing what that is can be a challenge. With the hope I'll get better at doing that, I got a new potential blog I named Romances with an Edge. It isn't up and active yet but maybe I'll find a way there to get across what my books are about... maybe ;)

4 comments:

Tabor said...

If you love what you do you need not be discouraged. What a privilege to have the time to indulge in such creative work. Of course, you will be discouraged when your work is not loved as much as you wish. Art is a funny medium and never predictable. I must say that the extreme perfection in these men's bodies turns me off. I am not the one with the crowds because I get all practical and think how much time the spend on their bodies and not their minds. Guess that is why such a cover does not make me see beyond the model and into the story.

Rain Trueax said...

Well, I made the time. It wasn't here until my kids left home, and then I made choices that enabled me to treat this as though it was a job. Admittedly for some people, who might be raising their grandchildren due to circumstances, they don't have the option-- or those who need a second income. But whatever we do, we have to give up one thing for another. People who are really wanting to spend time on creative work just have to treat it as though it was important. Others won't always regard it that way, of course.

As for the bodies, it all depends on the reason they got them. Hard working men get them because they spend a lot of hours at work-- and don't drink a lot of beer, of course ;)

I don't buy books based on covers but I also don't reject them for that reason either. What I don't like are thick necks because it means steroids and those have other consequences.

I was reading one of the models who said once he got the muscles, and he was into a lot of physical ways to get it, it wasn't an every day thing. Maintaining is probably easier than getting.

Incidentally the guy at the top is not a model I would have chosen for any of my covers. I never liked Fabio either-- although I didn't reject a book based on him on the cover. This guy's picture is here because he was part of the link ;)

Rain Trueax said...

I should add I have a friend who really dislikes passion on the covers--like it should be hidden. As a writer who has the option to create their own covers, something only indie writers have, I am putting out what I like-- not because I have to. I also like changing them around. I have been working lately on more permanent covers for the future paperbacks which means changing mine on Second Chance. I liked it but it didn't seem to work with the others. It's a book that I even at one time had an owl on the cover (can't say it sold books). If a writer becomes well known and has those who want their books, they have more options for what they use. I though never put up a cover I don't like-- some more than others, of course ;)

One other thing on the guys. They are young men and my husband wasn't that different looking back then with work on a nearby ranch when he was going to school. Love stories are generally about younger people as it is relationships at their beginning. I have thought of writing some crone lit (but still a romance) with a heroine and hero in their mid-50s but it's down the list somewhere. I figure though the hero of that, who is a sheriff, probably also would be in good shape but good shape for a 50 something year-old man.

Rain Trueax said...

I forgot to add that in the town near where I live, one of the major businesses has become gymnasium type locations with exercise equipment. There are so many of them that i have to think there are a lot of people who are working out. One of the newest is huge with what looks like ball courts as well as the exercise equipment. If I lived closer to town, I have to admit it'd be tempting to me too as they have trainers to help their clients find the right programs. When shopping, I see a lot of young women and men there, who look as though they are finding somewhere to work out as part of their life. It's a definite change of when I was young and remember very few such businesses. Better that then sitting home and watching reality tv ;)