Trends in the Romance Genre

Photo Credit Xanitia (Flickr)

Photo Credit Xanitia (Flickr)

I had the complete pleasure to sit on the Trends in Romance panel at When Words Collide this past August. When approached to sit on the panel, my reactions went sort of like this:

1) WHAT?!?!?

2) Yes, I write romance, but I am not well-informed on the genre, sales, etc.

3) But, it’s a great opportunity and an honour to be asked.

4) Okay… but I’d better get my research pants on.

There you have it, the disclaimer that 90% of what I learned about trends in romance, I learned in the six-week period prior to the conference. The remaining 10% was what I knew as an author and a reader of romance.

Okay, here goes with some fun facts and takeaways from the panel. My fellow panelists included: Roxy Boroughs, Justyn Perry of Breathless Press, and moderator Jessica L. Jackson.

  • Romance is selling strong in both print and e-books. While e-books are selling more, you’ve got 32% of people purchasing paper copies of romance. If you dream of seeing your book on a shelf, this is still possible, but get with the right publisher.
  • 84% of romance readers are female. Shocker, I know.
  • Top sellers of print books in North America are Barnes and Noble, followed by discount stores (Walmart, Costco, etc.)
  • The factoid that blew my mind is that 36% of romance buyers in North America subscribe to ebook deal services with recommendations and discounts. I’m clearly not in that 36% as it was news to me.
  • The top way that romance readers find a new author is through social media. Goodreads is surging my friends. The above five factoids are from the Romance Writers of America annual research.
  • The new ‘trend’ that is disappointing me greatly is that young women around the world are self publishing (through WattPad, blogs and other formats) ‘romances’ where the man is abusive. We’re not talking 50 Shades of Grey here, we’re talking verbally abusive and non-consensual physical violence. This is disheartening. The entire room got to talking about how “back in the day” romances had the domineering male lead, who could even be quite forceful in the bedroom. Once upon a time many of us found that sexy, but you know what? That was a different time and place and we’re more educated now. I’m sincerely hoping that this ‘trend’ reverses quickly.
  • What is never going out of style? There will always be a market for historical romance, westerns, procedurals, etc. Those who love that sub genre read it voraciously.
  • Erotica, is this a fad? Nope. Per our panelist publisher of erotic fiction, the market is strong for all heat levels of erotica. Keep it coming… pun not intended…
  • If you notice something is trending big time right now, should you write it? Ultimately, trends go up and down. By the time you’ve written it and got it out into the world, the trend is probably over. That said, if the current ‘trend’ is the genre that you write in, that you love, and you’re a fast writer? I say give it a go. Even if it’s not on the up and up when you publish it, there is a readership out there and you can put your marketing skills to use.

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