Contemporary Romance Writer: Romance Always Sells — But Why?
Reader alert: The publishing industry has experienced nonstop upheavals for the past five years or so. Some people would say the industry is convulsing. Others would say it is dying a slow, painful death. (I’m mentioning this for those of you who’ve been walking around in some sort of daze. Or who never read the news–not even just the headlines.)
No matter what the state of the publishing industry — or the state of the economy for that matter — romance always sells.
Or so “they” say. For the statistic-hungry readers of this blog, I’ll toss one stat your way:
According to a 2010 Romance Writers of America (RWA) report, romance fiction sales remained relatively steady in 2010, though dipping slightly to $1.358 billion from $1.36 billion in 2009. And romance fiction continued its dominance of the consumer market at 13.4 percent (in terms of revenue of market categories), beating out mystery, science fiction/fantasy, and religion/inspirational titles.
Here’s the question: Why does romance sell?
Some would say that sex always sells — equating sex with romance. But there are plenty of romance writers out there who do not equate sexual tension between a hero and heroine with explicit S-E-X.
When a reader invests both money and time in a romance novel, what is she (or he*) hoping for?
Or could it be that romance readers are looking for some combination of all of these things? Or could it be the longing for that intangible happily ever after?
In Your Words: Why do you read romance? There are plenty of other books out there on the bookshelves — why do you pick up a contemporary romance or a historical romance or a romantic suspense?
* According to a 2009 RWA study, men make up 9.5 percent of romance readers.