This month’s the Round Robin is about: What changes have your seen in romance novels in the past decade? Is there a change in romance novel direction? Is there still a market for non-explicit sex stories?
When I first started publishing some 15 years ago, romance had moved away from the bodice rippers of the 80s and entered the strong, female protagonists. Books have started to address what were once taboo subjects. Subjects like domestic violence, for instance, while not standard fare, are no longer completely uncommon. The heroines are realistic women, intelligent, strong, and beautiful in their own way. Remember when all of the heroines had hourglass figures, hair that fell in massive waves to their butts, creamy, perfect skin, and sapphire/emerald/aquamarine/(insert some exotic eye color here) eyes? Oh, and all of them were 18 or so?
This is where romance novels have become even more exciting. Real women are writing romance novels about real women and our needs. The heroes are flawed but have redeeming characteristics, just like real men.
But you’ll also see a lot of fantasy, and I’m not talking about wizards, elves, magic, fairies, and dragons, although there is that. I’m talking about the ménage literature that became popular five or six years ago.
And we can’t forget the BDSM romances popularized by E.L. James, but by no means started by her.
And we’ll try to forget the dino shifters and such because, well, we’ll just try. (Delete! Delete! Delete!)
There is no question that romance novels have changed. It’s changed with the market.
Interesting, I’ve seen an increase in YA romance. I think some of this has to do with the fact that most of it does not have explicit sex. While it’s read by teens, it’s also read by women 40+. Why? I hypothesize that some of it has to do with the non-explicit nature of it, but also because we are reliving our youth, if a much cooler youth.
So, yes, I do think there is a market for sweet romance. There are publishing houses that focus on sweet romances and have done very well.
Ultimately, I think it comes down to the story, the author, and the whim of the internet gods. You work your tail off in the hopes of getting “lucky.”
What do you think?
If you’d like to find out what my fellow Round Robin authors think, please follow the links below.