Foiled Again by Those Damned Youthful Demographics

Here I am, all excited about my upcoming novel, Once Upon A Project, which is about women at a crossroads as they turn 50, when I hear that Harlequin is folding its Next imprint, which is all about women in their late 30s and older (although what I've seen makes me believe I suspect that the largest percentage of books are concentrated on the lower end of that scale).

How does this bode for my book? I can't know for sure, but I'm concerned.

If the Next line didn't catch on with the public, does this mean that most readers relate better to younger women? I have nothing against younger women - I was one myself once - but I thought it would be a nice change of pace to write about people closer to my own age.

I know that advertisers love the 18-34 demographic, but I also know that everybody out there doesn't fit into that group . . . .


Gwyneth Bolton said...

It could be that romance readers are stuck in wanting heroines to be 20-30 and that's why NEXT didn't work for Harlequin readers. Even though NEXT wasn't a romance line, it was a Harlequin line and most of the lines that they have that aren't all the way romance seem to fold... Bombshell, Red Dress Ink, etc. So NEXT had the "not romance factor" working against it too. And since their life long love line just folded too, Everlasting, I think Harlequin readers do have issues with age and romance...

But I think your book will do fine. I know what makes the story intriguing to me is the life-long friends aspect. Seeing how people who were friends in their youth grew apart, came back together, etc. I think that's a universal that a lot of readers will relate to.


bettye griffin said...

Thanks for your optimism, Gwyneth! Now that you mention it, I do remember Harlequin proclaiming that Red Dress heroines were growing up, but their ages once again are back in their 20s (I guess they won't be saying anything like, "Red Dress heroines are regressing!")

What's baffling about this for me is that I suspect Harlequin's core audience is closer to my age. If I were a fantasy writer I'd try my hand at one of those Peggy Sue Got Married themes of going back in time for a second chance!

I'm crossing my fingers that you're right.

Shelia said...

I would think as readers got older, they would want to read about heroines closer to their age or at least be open to characters closer to their age. Maybe some of the audiences for that line are trying to hold on to their youth through a character.

As Gwyneth mentioned, I don't think you have anything to worry about. Your stories are three dimensionals and readers will be able to relate no matter what their age.

P.S. - I know a lot of AA readers my age (late 30s) and older who prefer more mature characters. The market is there, I just think they just missed the boat with that particular line.

bettye griffin said...

That's what I find so mystifying, Shelia? Don't people relate to people of similar demographics? Hell, that's why I started writing in the first place.

Thanks for the compliment about my novels!

Patricia W. said...

I'm bummed about the NEXT line as well.

I think Harlequin readers tend to be older than the heroines too. Case of trying to relive their pasts? Maybe but I also think there's a market for older heroines too. I'm finding it more and more difficult to read chick lit, simply because these heroines are fresh out of high school or college. Now give me an older heroine in a chick lit voice, and I like it.

I think NEXT was treated like a category when it should have been treated like a single title line. MIRA is not folding. It does very well but everyone knows these are single titles, Debbie Macomber's series and a few others notwithstanding. Harlequin may need to realize that the short shelf-life and subscriber sales model doesn't work for all books.

bettye griffin said...

"Now give me an older heroine in a chick lit voice, and I like it."

I'm with you, Pat! (and I will try to make that wish come true).

I think your instincts are dead on. Has anyone told you that you should be a marketing executive?

BTW, Shirley Hailstock has a Next novel coming out around February, so be sure to check it out!