Romance, a tried-and-true genre of novels expands and business is booming
Source: Washington Post April 30, 2006
Members of Washington Romance Writers gathered in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia for the 22nd retreat to exchange industry gossips and ideas in April, 2006. While the two basic tenets of a romance story remain little changed, i.e. a main love story and a climatic ending that relieves, this genre has branched into new subgenres and a range of publishing formats. Nowadays, there are romance titles targeted specifically at African Americans or Hispanic readers, some are erotica or gothic with paranormal twists or mere inspirational stories. The definition of romance has broadened over time. A case in point, Harlequin, the largest publisher of romance fiction, published a series on Silhouette Bombshell, a character modeled on Alias’s Sydney Bristow. Bombshell’s focus is in search of herself rather than a man of her dream.
In terms of new formats, technology has huge impacts on romance publishing. Market niches have been created through e-publishing on the web or in e-books. Some authors who used to have difficulties finding their manuscripts published now feel liberated to be able to self-publish electronically. New distribution channels also have emerged: readers could easily download romance titles from Audible.com or receive daily dose of romance fiction on their cell phones, a new service to be offered by Harlequin.
According to Writers of America (RWA), romance fiction generated US$1.2 billion in sales in 2004. Some 2,285 romance titles published that year comprised 54.9% of all mass-market paperback sales. Competition among romance publishers for new readers could be seen in some offering a sweepstakes and the prize is to win a date with race car celebrity Carl Edwards, or others sponsoring speed-dating events in several cities including Washington. Romance publishing continues to be BIG. It is a business that has a lot to do with giving readers a dose of something that they may not get elsewhere in real life or from their medicine cabinet.