I’m writing a contemporary romance novel

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Post by Guest »

I had a thought about the ending. My first thought is that it has a happily ever after ending. Today I thought what if it doesn’t….

Anyone know which would be a smarter way to go. I know the readers group I’m in everyone wants the happily ever after. But then another group I’m in is all about the heartbreaking and devastating stories.

Are there statistics I can look at to see what’s preferred? I’m down to write it either way but thinking sales wise I don’t want to appeal to the largest group.

Post by Sarah »

Romance needs a happy ever after or a happy for now. If it doesn't have that, it's not romance.

Post by Suzanne »

I'll say it again... romance readers expect a happily ever after ending and don't take kindly when it doesn't have such an ending. Research it...

Post by Sally »

There’s a difference between a romance and a love story. If it’s marketed as a romance and doesn’t have a HEA, you’re going to make your readers mad. Some to the point where they’ll refuse to read your work. If you offer the “love story” ending where your characters don’t end up together, you’ll probably leave a sour taste in your readers mouths. You’ll potentially ruin their experience with the novel by giving an alternate ending that destroys the relationship.

Post by Irene »

If you plan to market it as romance, the couple must end up together at the end. It's an industry standard and a genre expectation. Otherwise, you will get one-star reviews from romance readers complaining that your book is not a romance. They'll feel cheated. The happy ending requirement applies to every sub-genre of romance including contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, erotic romance, and so on.

If you choose an ending where the couple does not end up together, you can market it as women's fiction. It would be a "love story" but it wouldn't be classified as a romance for the purpose of marketing and placement on bookstore shelves. So, the issue is more with "How do you want to market your book?" because that will affect your choice of ending.

By asking this question, it's causing me to wonder if you have read extensively within the contemporary romance genre and are familiar with it. You mention reader groups, but are they romance reader groups? There are romance readers who like heartbreaking stories for the angst that occurs during the story, but ultimately the couple still ends up together. The happily-ever-after makes the angst and heartbreak "worth it".

Whichever genre you write in, it's important to know the genre expectations, otherwise the book will be harder to sell. Some authors say they want to tell their story and don't care about "writing to market", and that's ok if they don't care about building a career and getting sales. But if you are looking at this as a long-term gig, then to some extent you have to know what readers of the genre expect and like to see in their books.

Post by Elizabeth »

I was told (maybe incorrectly) that if your book doesn’t have a happy ending, it can’t be classified as a romance. It has to be something like contemporary fiction instead. So, it might be more of a marketing strategy decision. I think you’ll find audiences split on whether they like only happy endings or realistic ones.

Post by Kerry »

Then it's not a romance novel. Sorry.. readers expect a happy ending unless it is part of a series. I've read a few dark romance novels where the story ends without the main couple together but you know the series will end with a happy ever after.
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