There are many misconceptions about romance. One of the biggest is that only women read romance; therefore, only women should write romance.
This reasoning is why many publishers require men to take female pseudonyms if they want to be published in romance, and why many women who write science fiction, suspense novels, and even business books take male pseudonyms or use initials.
Good writing should be the criteria for selecting books to read, not the genre classification or the author's gender. Dismiss preconceived ideas about genre and gender. Women write romance and suspense thrillers, as do men, and both sexes do it well.
I'm going to define romance based on the way traditional publishers define it: a woman and a man learning to love, in a committed relationship that leads to a happy ending. You may think of it differently, but that's pretty much how the genre has always been defined.
Books that are primarily about sex, not relationships, or that contain a man and a woman or any plurality or combination thereof with lots of sex don't fit that description. Also books wherein either the man or the woman is involved in an adulterous relationship don't fit that description either. In romance, characters act heroically. There is nothing heroic about adultery.
I'm a romance author who takes exception to books like The Bridges of Madison County being described as romance novels. While the book may be a love story, it is not a romance. In fact, I've said before that most men who elect to write what they think is romance, usually write a book about sex and adultery.
Those books usually are not called romance by the publisher, but general fiction. Those books never have a happy ending. They may have an inescapable ending given the characters and their actions, and that ending may be appropriate, but it's not the kind of happy ending I, and millions of romance readers, want.
Men: Gotta Love 'Em
I have some guy friends who write romance. I also have some fans who are men, and I get emails from them about my books. I'm proud of my male reading audience, but I'm not surprised that there are some.
In 2009, an RWA research project found that 74.8 million people read a romance novel in 2008. Of that group, 24.6 million were regular readers, and that number was an increase of almost 4% over the previous year.
Of all those millions regularly reading romance novels, 90.5% are women with the remaining 9.5% being men. Don't blow off 9.5% as being miniscule because that translates into about 2.3 million men every year regularly reading romance. That is nothing to sneeze at and everything to embrace.
Male Romance Authors
The guys I know who write romance are manly men, if you get my drift. In fact, one of my best friends who has written romance was a mercenary soldier in South America, a swashbuckling adventurer who has been happily married for a couple of decades now, so he must know something about romance.
A while back there was a discussion thread on a social media site about men who write romance. The man who started it is published in traditional print, and he seemed to think he was the only man succeeding as a male romance author.
Most of the people weighing in with opinions weren't men writing romance, but authors of both sexes who, for the most part, were aspiring writers or indie published only. I make this distinction because I've found most newly-minted authors who go the indie route don't know that much about traditional publishing and the way it works with genre fiction.
I made a comment and listed some of the many men who successfully write romance. Their identities aren't some Top Secret "gotta kill you if you know" information, but in most cases, it's not bandied about until they are well established. There once was a Paris Cafe site on Geocities called "Outting Men: Male Romance Authors," but that no longer exists. They had a big list.
I found myself thinking about this today -- don't ask me why because I don't know why my brain serves up some thought first thing in the morning -- so I thought I'd give you some resources so you could read about some of these trailblazing male romance authors. (Sure, I want you guys to read me, of course, but you might find it interesting to read some of these guys too.)
Writer's Digest article about Harold Lowry and Leigh Greenwood
Male Authors In Romance
Tall, Dark, and Gender Neutral
Questions and Quandaries
Male Writers of Romance
Good writing is found in every genre of book, and authors of both sexes write in every genre. Why not try a different genre or a different author and broaden your horizons?