The Romance Novel Industry: Myths, Legends, and False Expectations

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…

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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, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.

How Do You Know You’re Reading a Romance Novel?

Romance ALWAYS Has a Happy Ending

One the nicest things about real romance novels is the fact that no matter what your heroes go through, there WILL be a happily-ever-after (HEA), or the more recent happy-for-now (HFN) ending. If you don’t get one of those, then it isn’t a romance novel. It’s always grotesquely entertaining when people try to argue away this fact. Sure, there are novels that have very heavy romantic elements, but if the two heroes don’t waltz or hobble away together at the end of the story, certain that they are capable of loving and being loved, then my friend, you simply just read some other kind of story with a lot of romantic elements in it, but it wasn’t a romance. Don’t get upset. It happens. A romance novel always has a happy ending, even if it’s “for now”. Period. 

Romance is is Predictably Unpredictable

The fact that romance is predictably unpredictable is the part that keeps me coming back time and time again. I only started getting into romance novels when I was working on my dissertation and needed something to help me decompress during those myriad sleepless nights. I’ll never forget how grateful I was to be able to divert my overactive mind to focus on two main characters who were fate-bound and were destined to be okay, if not more than okay, at the end of it all. No matter how unpredictably the plot line may shift or twist, predictably, everything will turn out alright in the end. More or less. You may end up with fewer characters, but oh well. The two heroes are really what matter most.

I generally average about a book a night, and every single night, I’m getting a bird’s eye view of other people’s lives. At this point in my life, this has also become research, but I welcome it every time. Each book is different, and the journey may be as unique as the characters are, but they will be rewarded with the ultimate prize – requited love –  every single time. Yay!!!

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Romance Has a Place for EVERYONE

Although the genre has a loooooooong way to go in terms of representation, people in the industry are starting to wake up to the fact that readers want to read about people falling in love who are like themselves. This means that not every hero can be blonde haired, blue eyed rail thin model, or have honey-wheat locks that frame a heart-shaped face with piercingly green eyes but “curves to die for”. Characters who are People of Color want love just the same, and People of Faith want their chance, just as anyone in the LGBTQ+ community does. Love is love, folks, and that’s what romance it all about. It’s up to us to choose what we personally enjoy when we read, but it’s important to emphasize that we readers should have a choice. And it’s our responsibly as writers to provide options to the best of our ability and personal preference.

It’s refreshing to see that Rom/Coms are making their way back into the mainstream, from book to film, giving us all the feels we’re familiar with, but with different faces and different shapes. If tons of folks can get into paranormal romance, then I suppose people with “diverse backgrounds” shouldn’t be that much of stretch for people…. but only time will tell. Keep reading, keep loving, and keep an open mind – and heart.

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, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.

Blogging Advice… ???

How Does Your Blog Measure Up?

As I continue to learn how to juggle blogging with writing, it amazes me how many bloggers are savvy in making sure that their posts get noticed. There’s so much about blogging that I can learn from them, and I’m doing my best to cram more information into this overloaded brain of mine. Keeping my fingers crossed that I can actually retain anything. So many blogs get tons of views, likes, and oh my gosh – even comments. They just rack up on some bogs, while others don’t even get the pitiful sound of crickets chirping. I mean, even if you only hear crickets, at least you know that you’re not completely alone in the blogosphere.

So far, I’ve learned one thing about blogging for sure:

There are Two Types of Bloggers

It seems as though there are two types of bloggers: Those who blog for views, likes, and comments, and those who blog to share original content. At first glance, you may think that a blogger could be one and the same. Actually, no – and I’ll tell you why.

Blogging for Hits

When a person blogs for traffic volume, that is their sole objective. Knowing how to tweek your tags, keywords, etc. will give you an advantage of having more people land on your posts and even interact with you. That’s SEO at its best. But you have to devise the proper “hooks”. Give unsolicited advice (ironically like this post), devising titles that tell you about the “Top 5” of anything, and sharing any sort of “Secret” are surefire indications that the post has been created to reel you in. Or help you. Or both.

Is there anything wrong with this? Not to me. As I mentioned, I’m reading these posts just  like anyone else, hoping to find the golden ticket to mastering a system that I am totally clueless about. These blogs are the ones that actually generate passive income, which is never shabby. Don’t we all want to get paid for the work that we do?

Some days, I worry about traffic. Am I really able to effectively reach my readers, whom I truly value and appreciate? Because I write about “Love and Life” (One Word at a Time), that covers an entire spectrum of topics. This means that it’s difficult for my blog to float above the others, because Google and other search engines don’t really know where to place me, because although I have great content (*ahem*), I’m all over the place.

Welcome to my life, Google.

Blogging to Share

Which brings me to the second type of blogger. These bloggers focus on creating content that satisfies them first. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t keeping their readership in mind, on the contrary; it just means that the blogger is more likely concerned about sharing content that may not be popular, or trending. On the one hand, this can mean great things for the blogger who is concentrating on one specific topic. This ensures that the blogger becomes an expert on one particular subject, and followers can be assured that the blogger knows what’s up.

Then you have bloggers like me. Well, that sentence is inaccurate. I’m a writer who blogs. There is a difference. And for that nuanced reason, I definitely fit into the latter category of bloggers. I share content that I care about, and although I primarily focus on writing, romance, blogging, family, and apparently quilting, I blog about what moves me – which is also exactly the way that I write fiction.

Over time, regardless of which kind of blogger you are, what followers value most is sincerity. We readers can fish out the ones who write from their hearts and those who are vying to get you to just buy their merch. While I want to connect with more of of the world, I’m thankful to connect with you now. As I learn and grow, I want to share with you the things that I’m learning. 😉

If you have any advice, or have an experience to share, let me know!

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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, writing. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.

How to Listen (Part 1)

Advice Is Easy To Give, Hard to Follow

How often do we take it upon ourselves to go around and dish out advice that no one asked for? Don’t deny it – you know you’re just as guilty of this as I am. Even if you consider yourself to be the Switzerland of any group where conflicts or debates are involved these days, just think about when you’re at home binging on Netflix and you’re telling a character not to open the front door of the ax murderer’s house.

In one way or another, we all genuinely believe that we know more than others when it comes to certain things (or everything, depending on who you are). There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help others by sharing your astute perspective. Most of the time. Sure, it’s super easy to walk up to someone and say, “I see what you’re doing wrong there. Try this.” You’re not caught up in the situation; you have enough distance to gain perspective and be pragmatic about what you observe.

When your heart and soul are seemingly hanging in the balance, though, it’s a different story. The hard part comes when you’re put to task to follow your own advice. The “OMG just stop whining and quit already” doesn’t quite sound so brilliant when you’re talking to yourself in the mirror as opposed to when you recently said the same thing to a friend who confided in you with their dilemma for the umpteenth time.

Sometimes, Silence is The Best Advice

Don’t think that I’m not cognizant of the irony of this post. I’m giving advice on when not to give advice. Still, it’s a worthwhile opinion to share – and not just because it’s mine.

Recently, a friend who’s really going through some heavy things confided in me. Sure, I could have thrown in my wonderful tidbits of advice, but that wasn’t what my friend needed. They simply needed to be heard. Listening to someone and really hearing what is being said beyond the words spoken takes great skill. I’m not bragging about this; I’ve been cultivating this skill for decades, and I still have a long way to go.

The art of listening and hearing (two different skills btw) includes being able to distinguish when to speak and when to STFU.

This is one skill that I find to be incredibly helpful in both my personal and professional life. You can hear so much more in the silent spaces. If you’re also a musician, you know exactly what I mean.

Try being quiet once in a while – even in your own head. It’s amazing how quickly clarity will find its way to you.

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, writing. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.

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Are You Ready?

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(Also, get ready for my newsletter. Actually, get ready for both. If you already have one, then just get ready for the other.)

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, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.

“There are more rich plumbers than there are wealthy writers.”

I was just browsing on Twitter and came across this quote from justpublishingadvice.com. Sad to say, but it’s totally accurate.

Whenever you make the huge plunge into anything, the best favor you could ever do for yourself is to research. For example, I know that full-time authors in my county earn, on average, about $60,000 a year. I suppose it depends on where you live, but pretty much anywhere in California, that equates to being a side-job.

No one likes a Downer Donny, but it beats the alternative of fantasizing about earning millions of dollars for a trilogy you’ve written based on Twilight and churning it into a multi-million dollar industry that surpasses anyone’s expectations and sells books, films, cookbooks, music, and even adult products…

Wait. That actually happened. And there’s no signs of its popularity waning or slowing down.

Nevermind. Dude, you do you. Just do your research, make a plan, cross your fingers, work your butt off, and dream big.