If you are an aspiring Romance Author, the Naughty Books documentary is one of the most important things to watch.
The documentary, directed by Austen Rachlis, explores the world of Romance writing through the eyes of self-published authors Kelli Maine, Kristen Proby, and CJ Roberts. Although I am not an aspiring author, as an avid reader and a fan of CJ and Kristen, I found it fascinating to go behind the scenes so to speak and learn more about their lives.
Being a romance author is extremely challenging and after watching this documentary I have even more respect for any woman who decides to jump into this career. I learned quite a few things, so I thought I would break it down into a list.
Self-publishing is hard
Kelli, Kristen, and CJ are all self-published authors. While this is one of the most popular routes for aspiring authors to take, it is not without its challenges. First off, the word self-publishing for some has a negative connotation, which I will never understand. People assume that if an author makes the decision to self-publish, it is because they could not get any traditional publishing houses to buy their book. While that may be the case in some instances, that is not always the reason. Some authors choose to self-publish because it gives them control that traditional publishing would not.
If you are not familiar with what it means to traditionally publish a book, basically what it means is, you write a story then submit it to a publishing house which then decides whether or not they want to publish your story. If they do, it could end up in book stores or supermarkets if the publishing house feels it’s good enough. Self-publishing on the other hand, is literally, you write the story and then boom, you upload it to a place like Amazon without having to go through someone else. All control is yours.
Kristen Proby self-published her popular romance series With Me in Seattle and it has done very well. It just so happens to be my favorite series and how I discovered her in 2013. In Naughty Books, Kristen talks about it and her decision to utilize traditional publishing for her Love Under the Big Sky series. She speaks about having to give up control to the publishing house which means they can do things like have her change characters she would otherwise leave the way she wants. In the film, she also expresses that the series is not doing as well as her self-published titles have. At the time of releasing the first book Loving Cara, her biggest expectation was that she would get new readers who would discover her this way.
Writer’s block is a bitch
I don’t think you need to be a writer to understand that writers block sucks. If you have ever written a paper for school or anything else, you should be familiar with it. Imagine having writer’s block when your fans are waiting for you to put out a new book. Yeah, that would suck and that’s why I’m a reader, because that pressure would be unreal. CJ Roberts and Kelli Maine both speak about having writer’s block. Both authors released very popular romance books, and since their books came out, they have struggled to come up with something new.
One of the things that made me sad to hear was what a toll being a writer has taken on them both. CJ has been struggling to come up with something that is just as good as her Dark Duet series and she feels as if she is letting her readers down because she hasn’t come up with something else. Kelli Maine who is known for her Taken series has lost the spark she once had and because of the pressure to keep up with the ever changing romance genre, writing is not fun for her anymore.
Romance authors have relationship problems too
As someone who has attended many book signings and noticed husbands with their wives at the tables, it never really occurred to me how they would be feeling in that world. This documentary gives us a glimpse of that. We see and hear about the authors being the breadwinners for their families and the insecurity it has caused their husbands to feel.
I know, I know, there are much bigger things to be insecure over other than your wife being a successful author who can pay the bills, but here we are. Kristen Proby talks about having her former husband berate her for what she was doing which is clearly because he was jealous and extremely insecure. You would think that a man would be proud of his wife for not only doing something she loves but also being successful at it.
Reading romance should not be taboo
Men have things they love and obsess over so why can’t women? Romance is one of the highest selling reading genres out there, yet it remains taboo. Women who read romance books are seen in a negative light. We are often accused of only reading them for the sex, which is not the case. I hang out with a lot of women who read romance and some of them don’t even read the sex scenes in the books, no, I am not lying. They skip it completely. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sex scene in my romance books, but it’s not what I’m reading them for. Some of my favorites take several chapters before a sex scene even occurs. One of my favorite authors Colleen Hoover briefly talks about how misunderstood the romance reader is. There are far too many assumptions about us, which is completely unfair.
One of my favorite parts of this documentary was seeing sisters Leah and Bea Koch, who are the owners of bookstore The Ripped Bodice. What is so great about their bookstore is it sells nothing but romance and it’s the only bookstore that does. My favorite moment comes when they are talking about a man who came into their store and was shocked that it was a store that sold nothing but romance. He clearly didn’t like it. Leah says something that really stuck with me; “Most men can’t conceive of a space that is not for them.” That really hit me hard but in a good way. She was so right. Men have tons of spaces for them for all the hobbies and things they like so why is it such a foreign concept for a woman to have a space for the same purpose.
Readers and authors know how to party
This I already knew because I’m a reader and I go to lots of conventions, but I thought this would be a good one to end on. The documentary gives brief glimpses at book clubs and conventions (fun fact: I was at one of the conventions and spotted myself standing in line with my sister) which are so much fun. You get to meet your favorite authors, you make new book friends, and afterwards there is always a party where there are drinks, dancing, and you get to hang out with the authors too. Most people think people who read are boring, but I assure you, these events prove we are anything but.
If you have ever found yourself wanting to know what it’s like to be a romance author or you just want to know what the hype is with the genre in general, I highly recommend watching Naughty Books.
Naughty Books is available now and you can stream it here.