Reader expectations change over time, and the romance genre readership is no exception to that rule. One of the best ways you can make sure readers love your romance novel is by matching those expectations, and below are 3 easy tweaks you can make to your latest work in progress to do just that:
1. Include consent.
If your romance novel has intimate scenes, many readers now like to see enthusiastic consent right there on the page. And remember, BDSM elements, like consensual non-consent, domination, and submission, also necessitate consent.
2. Give content notices.
Content notices are a clunky but slightly less anxiety-inducing way of saying trigger warnings. If your book has elements that might upset some readers, like the aforementioned consensual non-consent, or rape, kidnapping, abuse, violence, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, nbphobia, or racism, including a notice at the beginning of your book and in your blurb (whether you list out all content notices, or direct readers to your website where they can find a full list) helps readers figure out if your book is for them. If you're not sure what necessitates a content notice, check out this crowdsourced list from Love in Panels, and read Eve Pendle's article on the topic.
3. Focus on character development.
Good characters are multidimensional, complex beings with flaws and quirks, just like humans. But they should never be defined by those flaws or quirks. A character shouldn't really be defined by any one aspect of their personality or appearance, and this is particularly important for main characters, and women, trans, and non-binary characters in particular. Avoid defining your main character as just curvy, just driven, or just divorced. If that's the buzzword you need to include in your blurb, by all means, do, but make sure that the character on the page is as layered as an onion.