Facts About the Romance Novel Industry

Falsehoods about Romance

It takes a brave soul for a writer to venture into Romancelandia, and an even braver one to admit it – especially in this day and age. The genre of Romance steadfastly gets a bad rap, and as soon as the forbidden word is uttered, one can expect to hear some impolite snort, scoff, huff – or, for even more awkward fun, have a complete stranger launch into an unbidden tirade about why the Romance genre is so trashy and air-brained, and instead of subjecting themselves to such banal nonsense, everyone should read Stephen King’s IT and worship all Sylvester Stallone films.

Yes, that actually happened.

Honestly, I’m just a magnet to awkward, well-meaning folks, but still, it was a small miracle that I could look at this woman without batting an eye as she segued from lamenting the pitiful, unloved female readers of romance, to lauding the incredible genius of gore and lore, only to somehow end up swooning over all things Rocky. Very strange.

Anyway, I digress. It’s hard to be taken seriously as a writer. Period. Throw in the fact that you also dabble in penning about the Amorous Arts, and well, you’ve suddenly become a first-class ninny in the eyes of many. Believe me, for every well-written novel, there are hundreds of other head-scratchers right behind it. I feel you. As with all things subjective, who knows which category your work will fall into for some readers? Nevertheless, like it or not, Romance novels, or the tired a.k.a. Bodice Rippers, are here to stay. So, we may as well get to know some facts about the industry. I picked up these facts from the Romance Writers of America, of which I’ve been a member since 2016.

Romancing the Numbers

Romance Fiction has been a billion-dollar industry since at least 2013.

Yes, you read that right. Why? Well, there are a number of reasons…


While women continue to dominate the readership of Romance, males are steadily nearing 20%.

An even more exciting fact is that the younger populous is increasingly male, sexually and ethnically diverse, more tech-savvy, and read their books on devices, or listen to audiobooks. As a writer, this is exciting to me because there is so much potential (although I have always disliked the word potential. I’m more for realized energy.). As another generation explores escapism through these kinds of stories, the standard, comforting tropes have an opportunity to be reborn and retold in a completely different voice. This is what any healthy writer lives for!

Romance Readers gravitate toward certain genres depending on their age.

So many subgenres exist in the realm of Romance, you might even be surprised. Not every novel contains sordid scenes, and not every chaste story is a trip to Snooze Town.  From Contemporary to Historical, Religious or Spiritual to Erotic, Paranormal, Suspense, or Young Adult to New Adult, pretty much everyone can find something that may be of interest to them. I read a plethora of novels in every subgenre listed, and I know that I’m not alone. Which likely explains why…

The Romance novel share of the US fiction market is 34%.

That means that for every 3 books actually sold, one of them was a romance novel. This is a very big deal, people. It also means that romance readers are voracious, and are more than likely willing to sacrifice other things in order to obtain more books.

If you have some recommendations for great books (regardless of genre), comment below! Also, find me on Goodreads.com. I’m always looking for new friends!

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more.


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