05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Different Kind of Fantasy Football - The Sports Hero Genre

My love affair with football goes back many years to watching high school football. I grew up in a small North Central Washington town where football was the only thing to do on a Friday night in the fall. After high school, I attended college at Washington State University, and I never missed a home football game. By the time I graduated from college, football was in my blood. Back in the old Kingdome days, I held season tickets to the Seahawks for several years.Never a fair weather fan, I stuck with my Cougars and Seahawks through the good and bad times, always holding out hope for the best. My interest in football players and what makes them tick led me to dream up stories about them. Over the years, I toyed with writing romance novels with football heroes. 

In 2004 I started writing seriously for publication. My first completed manuscript was a football hero romance novel. After joining a couple of local RWA chapters, it wasn’t long before I started hearing the “rules” of romance writing. Right up there at the top was the “no sports heroes” rule. I was shocked and more than surprised. It never dawned on me that jocks would be a “hard sell” to New York publishers. After all, who doesn’t love a hunky football player? Well, according to mass-market-paperback publishers, lots of people.

Certain my book would be the exception, I submitted to several publishers. Every one of them gave me the same answer: Thanks, but no thanks. Sports heroes don’t sell. 

With extreme sadness, I put my book away and focused my writing in other directions. My first published book was released in 2008. Since then I’ve published three more books as Jami Davenport and six super-erotic novels under another pen name. In the meantime, my own insatiable interest in reading books with sports romance heroes was filled occasionally by the few bestselling authors who chose to write a sports romance novel, but they were few and far between.
Reading a book with a football hero is my own brand of fantasy football. My ideal sports hero is arrogant, fit, and driven, a man’s man who commands respect from other alpha males. He knows what he wants, and he goes after it with single-minded determination. His inborn competitiveness defines him. At the same time, he’s a good guy with a soft spot for kids and animals, even if he appears to be a very bad boy on the surface. Deep down he’s vulnerable, and only the heroine can touch his vulnerability and chip away at his brash armor. What’s not to love about a man like that even if you don’t care for the sport that he plays for a living?

Luckily for readers like me, digital presses have opened up niche markets in the past few years. The demand for books to fill those niches is growing in leaps and bounds. Digital publishing is a big boon for those of us who choose to write books out of the mainstream, books which supposedly don’t have mass-market appeal. 

A few years ago, I dusted off my football hero romance, rewrote it from scratch only keeping the basic idea and the characters, and submitted it to several New York publishers, just to test the market and see if it had changed. It hadn’t. The only difference this time was that my rejections were personalized rejections along the lines of: Love the story, but sports hero romances don’t sell. None of these responses surprised me, nor was I very disappointed. I made a few changes based on some suggestions I’d received and submitted to a few reputable digital presses. Within a week, I had three offers for publication. It seems digital presses don’t have an issue with football hero romances. In fact, digital publishing has opened up a whole new contemporary romance genre centered around sports heroes. Go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and search for romance novels with sports heroes. The list is so long that even I haven’t been able to keep up with all of them. I’m also thrilled to report that the sales rankings on these books appear to be quite good.

After a slow start, my own sports romance novel is now out-selling the rest of my books, even my more erotic romances that are usually my best-sellers. In fact, I’m so happy with the reception I’ve received for Fourth and Goal that I’m planning to write several more sports-themed romances in the future. The sequel is already completed and waiting for publication.

The moral of my story is write what you love, not what’s currently selling, because the market changes frequently, and you won’t be able to keep up with it. Besides, I firmly believe readers can tell if an author is passionate about their story or if an author is merely following the trends. The digital market has opened up multiple opportunities for writers in the smaller niche markets. If you’re a reader, you have to be thrilled at the direction publishing is taking, as your choices are endless. You don’t have to settle for reading only those books the big publishers deem marketable when you want a different type of story.

If, like me, you love a good sports hero romance, you should be in heaven as this niche genre is expanding rapidly with excellent reading choices only a click away. The books are as well-written as any mass-market romance. So read on and get your sports hero fix, I know I will.

* * * *
Fourth and Goal By Jami Davenport
Book 1 in my Seattle Lumberjacks Football Series

In a game played on and off the field, only one of them will emerge the winner.
Armed with an uncanny ability for evaluating football talent, a dogged determination to succeed in a man’s world, and an empty bank account, Rachel McCormick agrees to help struggling wide receiver Derek Ramsey get his game back. Rachel believes Derek, her former best friend and lover, knows the truth behind a points-shaving scandal which ruined her father. She vows to expose the secret even if it destroys Derek in the process.
When Derek’s coach suggests sex as an excellent tension reliever the night before a game, Rachel takes one for the team. The next day, Derek has the best performance of his not-so lustrous pro football career. As Derek and Rachel rack up nights in bed and other places, the team racks up wins on the field. Rachel is torn between her loyalty to her father and her growing affection for Derek. Now it’s fourth and goal, one second left on the clock. Their hearts are on the line. Do they trust each other enough to go for the long bomb or do they get dropped for a loss?

Available from Loose Id


* * * *
Jami Davenport has been writing since she was old enough to know the alphabet. An advocate of happy endings, Jami writes sexy romantic comedy, sports hero romances, and equestrian fiction. Jami lives on a small farm near Puget Sound with her husband, a former Green Beret turned plumber, a Newfoundland cross with a tennis ball fetish, a prince disguised as an orange tabby cat, and an opinionated Hanoverian mare. She works in IT for her day job and is a former high school business teacher. She is the author of four contemporary romances under the Jami pen name and five super hot romances under a different pen name.


Jami Davenport said...

Thanks so much for allowing me to be a guest on your blog.

Laurie Ryan said...

I'm so glad to hear Fourth and Goal is doing well. It's a great story. Your comment about writing what you love is timely for me. I've been trying to determine the next move in my career and would like to continue writing exactly that. What I am passionate about.

Dawn Calvert said...

I LOVED Fourth & Goal, Jami. Didn't want it to end and look forward to the sequel. It's good to see digital publishers, along wth the NFL, recognizing how many female football fans are out there! Is that Matt Hasselbeck in the photo with you? What a cutie.

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Jami,
Thanks for guesting with us today! I grew up in a family who followed sports, especially college sports and more importantly The Oregon Ducks. My parents have been dead for many years and the time I've spent watching sports dropped dramatically. This year, however, I resurrected old family traditions including watching Duck Football! and all the college bowl games I could fit in. I've had a great time.

And, I too agree that a reader can tell if the author is passionate and in love with their story and characters. I keep that in mind on the days when writing doesn't come easy...what is it that I love about my characters, my story? When I answer that question, the words flow more easily.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Jami,
Great blog. It is so true you have to write about what you love, otherwise how can you write about it with conviction. Fourth and Goal sounds like it is doing well. You must feel vindicated by that.



Sarah Raplee said...

Jami, Thank you so much for guesting here at RTG!

While reading Susan Elizabeth Phillips's football hero romances, I decided to learn enough about the game to enjoy watching. Until then, I was a complete non-fan. Now, I appreciate the amazing men who entertain millions by playing this complex, demanding and dangerous sport.

I look forward to reading Fourth and Goal!

Diana Mcc. said...

Good post! Writing what you love shows through in your book. I love the orange tabby as a prince in disguise! Too cute!

Jami Davenport said...

Laurie and Dawn, thanks so much for dropping in.

Judith and Margaret, I spent the last two or three years writing books under another pen name that made me some good money but weren't what I wanted to write. I love that F&G is picking up steam and holding its own. I'm hoping the sequel will bring even more sales.

Sarah, I LOVE SEP, too. She's one of my favorite authors. I hope you enjoy F&G.

Diana, The orange tabby will be featured in F&G's sequel. I think he'll be a hit.

Janette Harjo said...

Good article, Jami. Very inspirational for those of us who write what we want to write! Continued Good Fortune!