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I just read an interesting RTB column (yeah I know, I nearly died of shock too) by Angela Benedetti, called Do You Self Insert? Sounds kinky doesn’t it?

Apparently an NY editor claimed that M/M will only work in print as erotica, not as romance, because women only read M/M for the sexual thrill of seeing two men together, but when it comes to reading them on the basis of a long term monogamous relationship, they want to be able to place themselves in the story.

Angela writes:

So all right, Ms. Buchanan is obviously unfamiliar with the m/m end of the industry and is repeating the common wisdom she’s heard from other important people on the New York end of the romance genre. I’m sure those same people were just as dismissive of the commercial viability of erotic (het) romance before Ellora’s Cave proved that there’s a huge market for it. The larger publishers will figure out how big the readership is for m/m romance eventually, and then they’ll all be scrambling to bring out m/m romance lines. That’s not really what I wanted to talk about, though.

Instead, what I’m curious about is the inherent assumption behind her statement, that all or at least most het romance readers insert themselves into the story, putting themselves in the heroine’s place as they read.

Re the M/M issue? I think the editor is talking out of her arse, but to be honest, I’d rather discuss the self-insertion question.

I can honestly say that not once in all my reading years have I ever tried to put myself in the heroine’s place. I wonder how true that is of other romance readers?

I once knew a woman on a group list who was obsessed with a certain fictional romance hero, so much so that if anybody ever tried to ‘claim’ that particular character, even in jest, she would go absolutely mental. And I don’t mean, in a joking way either. I think she had a bit of a screw loose. I of course antagonised her at every given opportunity, by pretending to steal said fictional character away from her. Childish I know, but oh so much fun.

I think she’d actually convinced herself that she was in love with this particular hero. I’m not talking about jokingly coveting a particular character, because I understand that a lot of readers, have done that at one time or another (Sarah, you know The Rev is still mine right? *g*). No, this woman really believed that she and this fictional hero belonged together. *Shudder*

I guess when I think about some of the RFGs (Rabid Fan Girls) out there, I wonder if the self-insertion ‘myth’ is as much of an urban legend as we think it is?