One of those facepalm moments. You finally pluck up the courage to tell someone, a colleague or a friend, that you write novels, and then what happens? What sort of novels, they ask. Romance, you reply. And then what happens?
The sniggers start. Romance, huh? The comments start: everything from jokes about porn, which is just great in a conservative industry like mine, or even better, comparisons to that book series, which is being made into movies.
But, you know what? Romance is one of the biggest selling genres out there. A crowded genre to be sure, but it is still much bigger than many others. The graphics I have used are from the Romance Writers of America site and a few other sources, and make for a definite eye-opener, particularly when your precious love story is mocked for being a … love story.
Yes, folks, it looks like that worthy classic literary fiction category, the ‘good’ books that everyone is reading, was the lowest selling category in 2010.
Whoops! Still think it is just a flash in the pan that romance is a worthwhile genre? Let’s have a look at 2014 then …
And, would you look at that … Not only is Romance still the biggest category, but Indie Published Romance is the largest category in there. That brings me onto another topic.
How many times as an independent author have you heard one of the following:
- You need to find an agent
- You are not a real author unless you have a publisher
- Indie? That’s just vanity publishing.
- Indie? Isn’t that where you pay someone to publish your work?
I don’t mind admitting that hearing someone tell me I am not a ‘real author’ without have a recognised publishing name behind me has one result: I want to smack them and as a qualified 1st Dan black-belt in Shotokan karate, I do know how to make that count.
Let’s straighten one thing out here. I am an indie author. I publish my own work via Amazon, CreateSpace and Smashwords. More recently, I have used KDP to produce a print-on-demand version of my latest book. Yes, I do my own editing (sharp intake of breath). Yes, I make mistakes. Yes, I have had the embarrassment of having to pull a book so that I can upload the corrected version. But, it is a learning process. And no, I don’t have an agent or a publisher.
But I digress because this piece is about romance, and why it is the largest selling category. The reason is remarkably simple. It could be argued that the same reason explains why religion exists. Life can be hard, so it is human nature to want something better. Quite simply, a well-written romance can lift the spirits.
Not always, but it is more likely to lift the spirits than a book about how hard the protagonist’s life is. If all you have before you is pain and suffering, then yes, you may feel better because at least your life is not that bad. On the other hand, read about love and you have another option. You have the possibility of hope. Yes, your last relationship may have ended badly. Yes, your ex-husband/wife may have been a demon lowlife brought to human form. But that romance, that happy-even-after or happy-ever-after-for-now has given you hope.
It is that nebulous potential of hope which, to my mind, makes romance one of the biggest genres in the fiction market. Laugh all you like at Mills & Boon, but it is big business. People want to believe in the light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you can’t have the fairy-tale, there are the small ‘loves’: a smiling child, a word of thanks. Little flashes of light which give us hope that perhaps tomorrow will be better. That is why romance sells. It is not an undying love for smut or sex. It is the hope that a good love story will bring.
I have just finished writing a story, in which the male protagonist is based on an idea I had relating to my fascination with the Egyptian Goddess, Sekhmet. It started as a way to burn off a bad day at work. It will go live on Amazon on 31st March, although courtesy of their system, the print-on-demand version is available now. It deals with prejudice, but when it comes down to it, the hero and heroine find that the bond between them is stronger than the prejudice of others.
The downside of writing romance is that it is a crowded marketplace. It could be argued that perhaps it is easier to make your name in a less crowded arena. Big fish, small pond and all that. However, another way of looking at it is that, with it being such a big marketplace, perhaps readers might be willing to take a chance on a new author. Who knows? That reader might like what you have written, might recommend it to someone else, because you brought a promise into their lives.
Hope. Hope that there is a better world out there. That’s the promise of romance. So the next time someone mocks you for writing romance, you can smile. At least you brought hope into someone’s life. That’s not a bad thing to do.
LINKS TO THE BOOKS IN THE DIARIES OF THE CWN ANNWN and HELLFIRE PACK SERIES
“Bound”, Volume 1 of The Diaries of the Cŵn Annwn
Amazon.com $0.99: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016TQFBNY
Amazon.co.uk £0.99: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B016TQFBNY
Smashwords.com £0.00 (Free): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/589130
“Alpha”, Volume 2 of The Diaries of the Cŵn Annwn
Amazon.com $0.99: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ENZ972O
Amazon.co.uk £0.99: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01ENZ972O
Smashwords $0.99: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/631708
“Beta”, Volume 3 of The Diaries of the Cŵn Annwn
Amazon.co.uk: £3.05 https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01KB20OL6
Amazon.com: $3.99 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KB20OL6#nav-subnav
Smashwords: $3.99 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/660156
“Merysekhmet”: A love story with bite
Amazon.com: $1.12 or free on Kindle Unlimited https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XJPK5S7
Amazon UK: £0.99 or free on Kindle Unlimited https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XJPK5S7