Why are romance novels so popular? According to book seller statistics, romance novels are the most popular genre ever. Period. But why?
I’ve been asking myself that question for just over a year now, ever since my novel, The Healing Touch, was published and, for a brief moment in time, rose to within the top 100 in its category on Amazon.
The funny thing is that I never intended for The Healing Touch to be a romance. Yes, it’s about love, and a man and a woman fall in love with each other, but it’s not a romance novel in the truest sense of the genre. The love story, however, are what readers of the novel loved.
As I’ve been advised to listen to my readers and give them what they want, I’m now writing the next novel, following those characters and their relationship. The novel, Forever And Ever Love, is set over three lifetimes and will be published in 2017.
Meanwhile, the question of why romance novels are so popular had been haunting me. Late one night I watched a documentary on BBC 4 about literary novelist, Sally Duffy, taking on the challenge of writing a Mills and Boon romance novel for their 100 year anniversary. The programme was illuminating as it soon became clear that, no matter what non-readers of the genre may think of it, it is not easy to write.
But very interesting to discover, was that romantic fiction is written for women by women. Does it therefore fulfil some kind of yearning within women? I would suggest that it goes further than fulfilling any kind of romantic fantasy or fairy tale. Romantic fiction is very important because it may be the only art form developed for women by women. Think about it. Other art forms have been fashioned and developed by men. But romantic fiction looks at the world only through the eyes of women.
Today, I came across a remarkable blog on romance novels by Freddie Bateman. Freddie’s blog looks at the reasons why the romance novel is so popular and how it has developed over the years. If romantic fiction is your thing, his blog is a must-read – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-romance-genre-so-popular-freddie-bateman
Extracts from Freddie’s blog:
“Who Reads Romance, and Why?
Why are romances so popular? There are as many answers as there are readers. And there are a lot of readers—RWA’s (Romance Writers of America) 2005 study showed that 64.6 million Americans read at least one romance in the previous year.
Half the readers are married; almost half are college graduates, and 15 percent hold graduate degrees. Women between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-four make up more than half the romance-reading audience, but readers range in age from their preteens to over age seventy-five.
A fair number of men read romances, too—22 percent of all romance readers are male, according to RWA—but not many are willing to talk about it. (Some even subscribe to by-mail book clubs in their wives’ names to keep their secret from the mailman.)
Romance is just as popular in other countries as it is in North America. Harlequin Books publishes in 25 languages and in 120 nations, and counts its readership at more than 200 million individuals worldwide.
…Romance novels are the best-selling segment of the paperback fiction market in North America. According to statistics compiled for the Romance Writers of America (RWA), romance novels account for well over 50 percent of mass-market paperback fiction sold in the United States each year. More than a third of all fiction sold in the United States (including mass-market paper, trade paper, and hardcover books) is romance fiction. Paperback romances outsell mysteries, literary novels, science fiction novels, and Westerns. More than two thousand romance titles are published each year, creating a $1.2 billion business in 2004.”
Thought provoking, right?