As you may have discovered, I love asking my readers questions. Here’s another one I asked recently: What is something that has made you or would make you stop reading an MM romance? What are your biggest frustrations in gay romances?
And boy, did they come up with some good stuff. Here we go:
1. Too many grammar/spelling errors
This is one I can completely understand. While many MM romances are self-published (mine are, too), that’s not an excuse for sloppy self-editing or lack of editing. Sure, anyone can miss a comma or a typo (I found a typo in a Nora Roberts hardcover the other day, just saying), but if a book is riddled with them, you’re doing yourself and readers a disservice.
2. The plot was just too far fetched and had too many inconsistencies
Even in fiction, a plot has to make sense within the world the author created. This is where good beta readers come in, people who read the book before it’s published and tell you if you missed anything. My beta readers have caught mistakes more than once!
3. The plot takes too long to develop and turns a 250 page book that would be perfect into a 400 paged that bored me to tears and made me stop
This literal response from one reader got massive likes from others. It made me smile, but it also shows that tight plotting does matter. Also, bigger and longer is not necessarily better…in books.
4. Obvious example of book stuffing
Book stuffing is one of my biggest frustrations in gay romances, and many other authors feel the same. Some authors are gaming the Kindle Unlimited system by adding unnecessary content (like a ton of bonus books) to their book…and they add the same to all their books. It’s against Amazon’s rules, but unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t always seem to care. You can report a book for book stuffing however, and it seems the ‘Zon is getting better at taking these down.
5. Excessive cheating by one of the main characters
I thought the word “excessive” was interesting here, because I think readers take issue with cheating in general.
6. Page after page of exposition and inner conflict with no dialogue
I’ll admit that my books were a tad slow in the beginning as well, but I’be become much better at pacing (which is what this is). Too much inner dialogue slows a book down tremendously, especially if it’s repetitive. Dialogue and actions scenes, on the contrary, make it speed up.
7. Stilted dialogue and unrealistic characters
My readers mentioned these in one breath, but I think they’re two different things. Stilted dialogue is tedious, but unrealistic characters yank you out of a story. Even in fiction, we want characters to behave consistently with how they’re presented. If a character is shown as shy and timid, having him or her make a long speech is unrealistic, for example, unless it’s been foreshadowed, somehow.
8. Just didn’t catch my attention from the start
Common wisdom says authors have about five pages to draw a reader in. I think it’s a little more, at least for me, but if book doesn’t hold my interest after a chapter or two, I’ll stop reading. Books have to start with some kind of tension, conflict, or action.
9. Sex scenes written by someone with no clue of anatomy or reality
This one would be funny if it wasn’t so true. Gay sex isn’t male/female sex, and sometimes author show a lack of understanding of how things work. and a lack of research.
10. Atrocious use of cliches and stereotypes
This is always a fine line, because on one hand, readers love certain tropes but on the other, they don’t want to see the same thing over and over again. So, they wants the same…but different, LOL. I think this frustration is more about certain stereotypes that can get irritating, like racial stereotypes, the bitchy ex, negative portrayal of women in general, etc.
Honorable mentions were some other plot issues, like all sex with no plots and instalove without any character development. An interesting one, I thought, were unlikable characters, because it’s something I struggle with when reading MM romances sometimes. If one of the main characters is unlikable, it’s hard for me to finish a book… If I don’t like someone, why would I care what happens to him?
Anyway, these were my readers group’s biggest frustrations in gay romances. Any you’d like to add?