Guest Post by Hanna Rhys Barnes**
I’m an author. I have books published by a publisher. “What an accomplishment,” you might say. But when I say “I write Romance,” I get this look like “Oh…how…nice.” As if the qualification “Romance” somehow diminishes the accomplishment.
Unfortunately, romance authors are subjected to this sort of backhanded treatment, especially by other authors. As if a #1 NYT or USA Today bestselling Romance title is not quite as worthy as some literary or memoir or inspirational author’s work!
As a romance author, I find this kind of behavior tiresome, especially since hands down, romance is the publishing industry’s largest, most profitable, steadiest genre.
Let me tell you, when the US economy was flagging, authors in the literary, poetry, and non-fiction section of the bookstore were happy the romance genre existed. While the bottom dropped out of many other categories, romance readers continued to buy one or more romance novels per month. The Romance imprints kept many-a-publisher afloat. And we still do today. Go into the book section at any big box store and see which fiction genre has the most shelf space. I’d be willing to bet a whole month’s salary it’s Romance. Per the Nielsen Books & Consumer Tracker, in 2014
- Annual sales of Romance Novels were over $1 billion
- Romance Novels were nearly 40% of e-book sales & over 30% of mass market
- The Romance unit share of all adult fiction sold: 29%
Nearly 100 romance books are published every month. And publishers make sure they get on the shelf (whether brick & mortar or digital.) Why? Because romance readers are loyal buyers and always on the lookout for someone new to read. Because romance readers are prolific readers. Many read 4-8 books per month. And who’s buying billions of dollars’ worth of Romance?
- 84% of romance book buyers are women 16% are men.
- The U.S. romance book buyer tends to be aged 30-59 years.
- Romance book buyers have an average income of $55,000.
- More than 55% of Romance book buyers have read Romance for more than 10 years
Romance fiction is smart, fresh and diverse. Whether you enjoy contemporary dialogue, historical settings, mystery, thrillers or any number of other themes, there’s a romance novel waiting for you! If you’re an author, next time someone says “I write Romance,” shake their hand and say “Thanks.” Thanks for the hard work we do to help keep the lights on in the publishing world.
About the author
Hanna Rhys Barnes is one of those people with an evenly balanced right and left brain. She has a BA in English but retired as a high school math teacher.
Hanna loves doing rewrites as much as she loves getting that first draft down and has been a freelance developmental editor and author coach for the last six years. She has worked on books for several well-known agents and published authors.
A member of RWA’s national organization and of several local chapters, she currently lives and works on Whidbey Island in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Hanna’s historical romances, Widow’s Peak and A Knight’s Kiss are currently available from the Wild Rose Press.
**This blog article is posted for Hanna Rhys Barnes by Jackie Houchin and Miko Johnston.