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.
11 thoughts on “I Write Romance and I’m Proud of It!”
Yay, romance! I love the genre and have lots of fun writing romances as well as mysteries. Great post!
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Great “meeting” you Hanna! Very informative post. I very much think one of the most important aspects of writing is readers reading what you write, and your statistics prove out the significance of Romance novels among readers. Good post.
When I first came to Southern California I worked as Assistant Manager at Waldenbooks in the Glendale Galleria. We were the second largest in sales bookstore in the chain in America. I can tell you first hand we sold down to the walls in our Romance section every month. Romance readers were and are very loyal and they love the stories. It’s good that Romance writers do have awards like the RITA and Golden Heart to publicize their writers. The fact so many of these kinds of books are sold says a lot of people know how popular the genre is. Keep letting folks know those numbers. It is eye-opening. Thanks for dropping by our blog, Hanna.
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I started the same way. As an associate for Border’s Books, I had to learn about all the different shelves and be able to recommend to customers in the store. Outside of the Big Name Authors, it was, by far, the romance shelf that had the most titles, the most repeat customers, the most requests for backlisted books and the biggest percentage of sales.
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Romance makes it into almost every kind of writing, especially fiction. Before we formed a Sisters in Crime chapter in Central Virginia in 2010, many local mystery authors belonged to the local chapter of RWA, and many of us still do. The SinC chapter often gets invited to the RWA programs and they’re first rate. Ditto for the talented romance writers I’ve met and read. Thanks, Hanna.
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I must confess that I was one of those Romance snobs, in part because there is a lot of bad Romance out there. However, as you point out, there is a lot of romance, period. Some will be sub-par but a great many will be superb. Thanks for writing such an important post. You certainly turned me around.
Thanks for inviting me to post, Miko. I hope you’ve been able to find a romance series (and author) that you’ll continue to follow.
Good description of the impact of romance writing. About 10 years ago, I attended a conference on romance writing held in Nashville. I was impressed by the authors and by their avid readers
Thanks, Frank. The romance community has always been welcoming to all authors of fiction regardless of genre. If I recall correctly author Bob Mayer once said something along the order of if you want to learn how to write commercial fiction, join Romance Writers of America. Currently, he’s the only male on RWA’s Honor Roll.