Saturday, May 23, 2015

What Changes Have You Seen in Romance Novels in the Past Decade? By Connie Vines #RR 05/23/15

Topic: What changes have you seen in romance novels in the past decade? Is there a change in romance novel direction? Is there still a market for non-explicit sex stories?

I researched data (2010- 2014)  for this months' Round Robin blog topic .  Multiple sources (online and print) stare that romantic novels are the most popular and most lucrative genre in American publishing, with over $1.35 billion in estimated revenues.  This is almost two times the size of the mystery genre, and nearly three times the size of the market for classic/literary fiction.

Best Books (romance) according to Amazon/reader's choice, 2010:
Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage
Burning Lamp
Pleasure of a Dark Prince
Sin Undone
Married by Morning
Finding Perfect

The favorites seemed to be evenly divided between: Paranormal/Romantic Suspense/Sweet Homespun.

The 2013 list of Best Books (romance):
Dark Witch
Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles)
The Rosie Project
The Sear of Tranquility

Fast forward a decade: Witchcraft/Paranormal/Possible Destruction of Mankind

It seems historical, homespun, chicklit, and the 'classic' contemporary romances are on the back burner.

However, there seems to be exceptions:  Scottish men wearing Kilts are marketable and appearing on the Cable t.v. scene!

What I have seen in the last ten years is less diversity in the romance genre.  Erotica and Vampire/Changeling characters are still dominating the market.  While series novels by Debbie Macomber and Susan Mallery still break into the top 10-with contemporary/sweet romantic theme, becoming the exception (at least statically speaking) rather than the rule.

Does this mean readers no longer hunger for Sweet Romance, Chicklit or Historical Romance?
I don't believe so.  (Hence the popularity of eBooks and re-releases of 1980-90s romantic fiction.)

I believe an author who writes non-explicit romances has a smaller list of publishers to query, and smaller royalties each quarter than in past decades. However, trends peak and fade away and reappear.  If a writer writes to his/her strengths and doesn't randomly chase trends, a readership will develop.

I like a good Zombie/Paranormal story and write 'um too (though with a light touch).  I watch GRIMM and iZombie.  But these are not the only shows I tune in or the only theme in the novels I write.  I suspect this is true with readers and publishers also.

Remember when writing a story not slotted to a 'genre' was the kiss of death, so to speak?

Enter: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and Pride Prejudice & Zombies. Who could have guessed such stories could be made into a movie?

The key is writing a story that captures the reader.

Do I have predictions for the upcoming year?

  1. Erotica will climb for a bit longer due to the movie (50 Shades) and general interest.
  2. Pirates and Highlanders, and Vikings will gain and retain popularity.
  3. I'm also thinking contemporary romance sweet/ sexual tension (1-flame) will regain a foot-hold on the market.  Characterization and emotional connection are the backbone of these novels.
What is your take on the matter?  
What books do you plan to focus on this upcoming year?
What are you hungering to read?
What book setting/ theme are you 'not' interesting in reading?

Please post comments/suggestions.

Remember to  Blog Hop and see what the other participants have to say about this month's topic.

Happy Reading!


Fiona McGier
Victoria Chatham
Skye Taylor
Margaret Fieland
Helena Fairfax
Anne Stenhouse
Marci Baun
Diane Bator
Rachael Kosnski
Rhobin Courtright


anne stenhouse said...

Hi Connie, Yep, those men in kilts. As I live in Scotland, I seek them here, there and - actually you really only find them in the photo line-up at weddings. But hey, it's fiction we write.
Thanks for the stats and the encouragement to write what suits you. Anne Stenhouse (relatively sweet regency, villains, however)

Rhobin said...

You took a different take on the topic that was very interesting. Loved the statistics and the top selling titles. You're right everything has changed and will change again. But I think even sweet romances will have a slightly different take than the old version, but that's just how things change.

darkwriter said...

Thanks for doing the statistical research. that was interesting. I'll look forward to seeing how your forecast for romance works out.

Skyewriter said...

How could any red-blooded woman with a heart NOT like a man in a kilt?

Great statistics. I generalized - too lazy to look them up I guess. Thanks for doing my homework for me.

Fiona McGier said...

Um, (raises hand into air), I don't like to even read, let alone write highlander romances. To me, the accent doesn't signal "Hello, sexy man," as much as it makes me say, "Hello, Dad." Since me faither was from Glesga, the accent is NOT sexy to me. So I'll take a pass.

That being said, I actively avoid billionaires, sports heroes, and cowboys. None of those even pique my interest. So see, there really are many different points of view. Give me an interesting beta-male, one who is in touch with his feelings, treats his mother and his sisters well, and who cares enough to listen to the heroine, and you've got me hooked. To each their own.