Romance is Not For Children: Why the Trendy Titles are a Bad Idea
I first noticed it with Kieran Kramer's stories. The cutesy titles that use popular children's book titles as a template for their own. Then it expanded further from "light historical" into the mainstream historical category. Now, they're everywhere.
This trend needs to stop. Right now. And here's why:
It's derivative. I understand that temptation to try something new. To get away from those throw away, easily forgotten titles. The titles are one of the main complaints from within the genre because they are so easily tossed aside. But copying another genre's most popular titles is not the way to show the world you can be original. It's really not. (This applies to copying other bestselling adult novels, too.)
It's infantilizing. We already contend with the snobs looking down on the romance genre as something less than refined. It's a genre written mostly by women for women. It's already marginalized. Do we really need to make it easier for the critics? Women are not children, but this trend seems to perpetuate that idea. By using patterns normally reserved for children's titles, we link romances with children. And that's bad because ...
It's creepy. The sexual content in most romances is one of the reasons many stay away from the genre. I happen to like that part of romance novels. We're grown ups. We can handle those grown up words and actions. But using a children's book as a starting point for a title just feels skeevy. This isn't a genre for children. We're classier than this.
I'm not a PC crusader by any means. I don't have an agenda to get romance more mainstream respectability. I really don't care all that much. I like the man candy covers. I don't mind the alpha heroes. I don't even care about historical accuracy as long as they get the basics correct. But I really think that the publishing industry is being incredibly foolish to continue blithely along with this trend.
I'm not sure if this bothers romance readers who don't have this familiarity with children's books, but I'm positive it sends a negative message to those who do. And this romance reader is not buying another book, even by a favorite author, that follows this titling trend.