News: Romance mingles with Self-Help

A recent reported on “Whisperings,” a romance novel published by Covenant that tells the story of a grown woman trying to overcome the effects of childhood abuse. The author Cherrann Bailey drew on her experiences growing up in an abusive home to write the novel which features a female therapist who is having difficulty overcoming what the article describes as “emotional wounds.”

What’s interesting about the way this book is being marketed is that both Bailey and the Covenant spokesperson are positioning it as a way to reach LDS women who wouldn’t be inclined to pick up a self-help book on the subject.

Bailey says:

“I think a problem with the LDS environment is that a lot of people, especially women, think that seeking professional help is difficult or unnecessary”¦I don’t feel a woman would walk into an LDS bookstore and reach for a book about abuse. But I do feel she would pick up a novel. I wanted to give people a way to feel for a character and follow that character through a process of healing with hopes that they may relate to her; that they themselves can deal with their own situations and find some peace.” (Doug Fox. “Orem abuse victim confronts childhood trauma in new novel.” The Daily Herald, May 16, 2004.)

I’ll have more to say about all this when I review the romance issue of Irreantum. For now, let me just say that mixing the self-help and romance genres is an interesting development in the Mormon marketplace [and not a new one — as we’ll see in the Irreantum review] because it defuses to a certain extent the trope that romance novels are simply escapist fantasies for their readers.

SIDENOTE: Covenant says that they have sold 4,200 copies of the novel [as of May 16] and 1,200 of the book on tape. I know very little about how well fiction titles sell in the LDS market, but from what little I do know, those are decent sales figures. Anyone who knows more than I do care to comment?