Look through The New York Times and USA Today best-sellers lists. Do you see a disproportion of genres? I thought there would be a stronger representation of romance books on the weekly lists considering the number of romance books sold. Statistics, available on the RWA website clearly indicate romance fiction is popular has the largest market share of all genres (in the US consumer market), and when compared to other genres makes twice as much as the next genre (religion/inspirational).
I thought I would see a different mix of genres when The New York Times added a separate ebook listing. Everything I’ve read said ereaders were a boon to romance readers who no longer had to hid their lusty covers from on-lookers. Sales of romance ebooks were going taking off and even non-romance proponents, Barnes & Noble, were embracing (every pun intended) the genre. Julie Bosman had a great article in the December 9th New York Times.
This past Tuesday, I read an article in USA Today that gave me hope for our genre. Joyce Lamb, a copy editor for the news service as well as a well published romance writer, convinced the powers that be to begin a new column, Happy Ever After. You got it, a romance book column. Here is a link to her first blog. I have it from a very reliable source that USA Today will officially announce HEA this Thursday.
According to Ms. Lamb, the blog will “shower” us with book reviews and author interviews to help us get to know the authors better and isn’t that what we really want.
Here is an excerpt from Joyce’s post:
To kick things off, I thought I'd share with readers some things you might not know about romance writers:
Romance writers come in all shapes, sizes and flavors, and here at Happy Ever After we're going to meet as many as we can, even the ones who write really hot erotica. (Wait, is that redundant?) In other words, HEA is an equal opportunity blog.
Romance writers are incredibly supportive of each other. Seriously. We do virtual high-fives daily as one of us finishes her first book, lands the literary agent of her dreams, makes her first sale (also known as "getting The Call"), holds her book for the first time, buys her first Italian villa, and so on. We just can't get enough of encouraging each other.
Romance writers are fun. If you don't believe me, then take one, or several, out for drinks.
Romance writers, many of us anyway, have a deep and abiding love for Joss Whedon. The TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer embodies everything that romance novels aspire to be. If you're sneering again, get lost. We'll wait while you gather your things. Don't forget to take that judgmental look on your face. (Hums Jeopardy theme song.) OK, now that the unenlightened are gone, where were we? Oh, yeah, why Buffy is so great: Vampire slayer in love with a vampire. Best. Romantic. Conflict. EVER. I love me some Bella and Edward, but Buffy and Angel won my heart first.
Romance writers, some of us anyway, are at least somewhat like the characters in our books (not the villains, of course. Well, OK, maybe just a teeny weeny bit). You know how funny Susan Elizabeth Phillips' books are? She's just as funny in person. You know how Nora Roberts' heroines are kind and passionate and wield a wicked sense of humor? That's her, too. I could go on, but you'll see what I mean as HEA gets going and you get to meet authors you might not have met before.
Romance writers don't sleep much. Many have full-time jobs and families on top of their writing careers. That makes for some late … (soft snoring sounds) … wha? Oh, hello. I think you get the picture.
Romance writers are Smart, with a capital S. And I'm not just saying that because I want you to THINK we're smart. Writing a novel, any kind of novel, is HARD. (I'm not yelling, I'm just emphasizing.) Writing a romance novel isn't any easier just because it's a romance. You know how hard it is in real life to have a balanced, loving relationship while dealing with all the chaos of life? It's no easier in a romance novel. In fact, it's WAY harder, cuz our characters often are totally messed up, in life and in love. At least in the beginning. Another reason we're really smart: We have to know stuff. For example, Suzanne Brockmann could probably, in one glance, identify the make and model of the assault rifle hidden in the back of my closet, just waiting for the apocalypse. (Kidding.) Lisa Gardner could probably profile a serial killer. Jane Graves could probably bake the perfect cupcake. Linda Howard could probably lead you out of the wilderness alive. See? Smart. And if you don't believe me, go visit the awesome Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog, run by the awesome Sarah Wendell. I'll wait. (Hums theme of I Dream of Jeannie. I don't know why.) Back already? I hope you remembered to bookmark, though I'm sure many of you have already spent many hours there. And, heck, while we're pimping out SBTB, for no other reason than I'm a fan, you might want to check out Sarah's upcoming Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels. VERY smart. (Sarah, you're my snark idol.)
Romance writers almost always will tell you the same thing when you ask this question: Why do you write romance? Answer: Because we live for the happily ever after. Life is often hard and sad and depressing, and romances are the great escape. That's why romances are the best-selling novels on the planet. No, make that "in the universe." Why try to spare the literary writers' feelings? They need to accept the fact that without romance writers to support the bottom line, literary writers wouldn't be basking in the glow of their New York Times book reviews. Is that 'tude you detect in my tone? (Shrugs slightly.) Maybe. Earned it, though. And that's why we're here.
Here's some of what HEA has coming up in the next few weeks:
Interviews with Lavinia Kent (Regency author), Jane Graves (contemporary), Virna DePaul (paranormal and contemporary), Jill Shalvis (contemporary), Erin Quinn (paranormal), Shawn Lane (gay erotic romance), Christy Reece (romantic suspense), Desiree Holt (erotica), Keri Arthur (paranormal), Ann Christopher (African-American romance) and Mariah Stewart (contemporary) — and that's just in the next few weeks.
HEA will also have reviews of the latest releases by all the authors above, as well as lots of other reviews and features, including introductions to debut authors you might not know yet and sneak peeks at upcoming new releases.
Let the romance novel love begin.Great, right? Leave a comment here and please, if you can, leave a comment on Joyce’s blog, Happy Ever After and tell her Ruth A. Casie sent you!