That’s what we say here when we’re beyond ready for guests to leave. Of course, not many say it to the guests’ faces. Every year or two, I hear of people within the publishing industry who say Paranormal Romance is on the decline, or on the way out. Sometimes, the tone accompanying the pronouncement seems to say “… And don’t the let door hit you on the ass on the way out.”
In certain circles, Paranormal Romance is considered less desirable reading than the back of the cereal box, and that’s usually where the above-mentioned tone comes from. But occasionally, I get that impression from some within the Romance family, as well.
As an avid PNR reader for 20+ years, I’ve sometimes observed a corresponding slump in the number of new Paranormal Romances being released. The first few times I heard the prediction and saw fewer new releases at the bookstore, I felt like a junkie who’s just heard her dealer has been picked up. No, that’s not strong enough – a new dealer can always be found. No, it was more like a pot head who’s just heard about a terrible marijuana-plant-killing disease. Not only would my drug be harder to find, but it would soon cease to exist except in stale old stashes.
Then, a few weeks later, a whole new round of Paranormal Romances would hit the shelves. And those new books would be even better than those that went before. Better writing, more exciting plots, more creative paranormal beings, and more horrible villains. When readers started to tire of, say, vampires, or werewolves, and sales started to slide a little, the authors heard loud and clear, and came back with something new. Vampires and werewolves with a twist, witches, fey, angels, demons, and on and on.
Detractors of Paranormal Romance, those telling it not to let the door hit its ass, keep waiting for readers to tire of it, or come to their senses, and turn to another genre. They keep predicting that turn, only to stomp away like a cartoon villain, shouting, “Drat! Foiled again!”
They underestimate the creativity of Paranormal Romance authors and the depth of the well-spring of imagination that feeds our ideas. They have no way to predict what sort of creature we’ll develop next, and whether it will catch the readers’ interests. They fail to understand that we take the best of many different fiction genres and distill those qualities down to create brilliant stories.
But the most interesting plots, fascinating creatures and worlds, the hottest intimacy, and the best of writing would all be meaningless without the Paranormal Romance reader. Those who rub their hands together and chortle with glee at the thought of Paranormal Romance no longer selling fail to understand the faithfulness of the reader. They don’t get it when we eagerly buy books by our favorite authors, new books in gripping series, and anything with much-loved characters. Even if they eventually figure that out, our ever-increasing appetite for new authors, new series, new characters, and new ideas is beyond their grasp.
I have no idea if Paranormal Romance sales are currently up, or down, and I don’t worry about it much anymore, either as a reader or an author. I know, if sales trend down, all I have to do is wait a few weeks. Paranormal Romance will bounce back, better than ever.
Truly, I think the only thing that could have a real and serious negative impact on Paranormal Romance sales would be an economic climate in which few books of any kind sold. As long as readers can afford books, they’ll continue to buy what they love to read. Of course, a social/political climate which made reading such materials dangerous would dissolve sales. In a world where reading about paranormal creatures and sexual situations were considered evil and punishable, most people wouldn’t take the chance.
Even in either of those conditions, I think writers would still find a way to get their stories to readers. Not on the same scale, of course, and maybe not the same media. But now that the appetite is there, it will demand to be fed.
Now, lest you think I’m a Paranormal Romance snob, the truth is, you could probably substitute nearly any genre in the place of Paranormal Romance above, and the general gist of what I’m saying would be no less true, even though not every genre might have the same size following or staying power.