Author Topic: Quick question about the Romance market  (Read 1294 times)  

Offline KeraEmory

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Quick question about the Romance market
« on: July 12, 2017, 10:15:51 AM »
First of all, sorry, I know the process of trying to pin down "Romance" is both complicated and (for some readers) set in stone. I did try to investigate this a bit on my own, but not turning up much.

I'm not a romance reader myself, but the stories I want to tell usually have a central couple/romantic arc. The thing is, they're usually surrounded by a fair amount of plot that is fully separate from the relationship arc*, and a lot of, for lack of a better term, angst.

Like I said, I don't read period-full-stop 'romance' novels, but the few I've tried to click through seem ... pretty bubbly and ebullient. I'm not a bubbly and ebullient person, even though I am a romantic at heart.

So I guess the question I'm asking is ... is there such a category as "angsty romance"? Maybe some other keyword I'm not thinking of? I'm talking about tragic pasts/serious themes/something other than a love triangle keeping the participants apart.

(Dark isn't it, as I assume dark=BDSM and stuff, but let me know if I'm wrong.)

Basically, I randomly spewed out 5000 words of a new novel last night, and (as usual) not sure how it would be marketed.

(*Let me know if this sentence alone indicates that I'm not writing for any kind of Romance market to begin with.)

Sorry, I do know a lot of you guys have gone over this a thousand times. I've read a lot of the resulting threads, I just still get confused by my own writerly impulses.

Offline doctorshevil

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2017, 10:22:24 AM »
Check out the New Adult and College category.

Offline KeraEmory

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2017, 10:27:41 AM »
Check out the New Adult and College category.

Hmm, thanks.

(The Random Novel That My Brain Expelled For No Reason happens to have a college-aged protagonist, so that sounds vaguely promising, aside from the whole thing where I never went to college myself.)

Offline SBlake

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2017, 10:29:06 AM »
You should check out Chris Fox's Write to Market. It might help you find the best genre to target. To me it sounds like Women's fiction, but not necessarily romance.

Offline andycat

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2017, 10:33:58 AM »
I think there's definitely room in romance for those kinds of angsty stories. If you look at someone like JA Huss, her books have a ton of external plot and lots of darkness, past and current tragedy, etc. A lot of New Adult romances also tackle serious 'issues', though in a different way. (Colleen Hoover's It Ends With Us, was extremely popular, for instance.)

"Dark Romance" as a niche sometimes has overlap with BDSM, though not necessarily. The most common trope is a heroine being held against her will (kidnappers, mob hostage, sex slavery, etc) with the hero being tasked with guarding her / training her / eliminating her, etc. Dark romance is sometimes referred to as "mind f*ck" books which might be a place to start researching? Here's a list on Goodreads: ]https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/mind-[expletive]


(ETA: The link isn't working since it actually includes the F word, lol - you can change where it says [expletive] to the actual F word, or just search google though and the list should come up?)
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 10:36:46 AM by andycat »

Offline Alix Adale

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2017, 10:38:24 AM »
Look at the Romantic Suspense and Paranormal Romance sub-genres as well as the New Adult already mentioned. Romance is a huge and misunderstood market that can support fantasy, sci-fi, bdsm, weird kidnapping stories, all kinds of things. 

To be a romance the main plot should be the relationship and the ending must be HEA/HFN. Otherwise, you can have as much subplot as you want, go as dark and psychological and strange as you like.

The four I've finished include themes of mental illness, stalking, depression, murder, suicide, not to mention all kinds of dark and (hopefully) creepy supernatural elements.
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Offline KeraEmory

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2017, 10:44:40 AM »
I think there's definitely room in romance for those kinds of angsty stories. If you look at someone like JA Huss, her books have a ton of external plot and lots of darkness, past and current tragedy, etc. A lot of New Adult romances also tackle serious 'issues', though in a different way. (Colleen Hoover's It Ends With Us, was extremely popular, for instance.)

Thank you--looking at the two of these, Colleen Hoover seems to skew way more towards what I'm talking about (judging merely from the 'look insides' here). Very helpful.

Look at the Romantic Suspense and Paranormal Romance sub-genres as well as the New Adult already mentioned. Romance is a huge and misunderstood market that can support fantasy, sci-fi, bdsm, weird kidnapping stories, all kinds of things. 

To be a romance the main plot should be the relationship and the ending must be HEA/HFN. Otherwise, you can have as much subplot as you want, go as dark and psychological and strange as you like.

The four I've finished include themes of mental illness, stalking, depression, murder, suicide, not to mention all kinds of dark and (hopefully) creepy supernatural elements.

Thank you for the info. I know the HEA/HFN rule, but the bolded part is where the line gets blurry for me, as I'm typically writing an overarching plot that is at least as important as the relationship itself, with separate stakes and character growth. (Although I say this not being quite sure how the new one will play out, because I didn't know it was in my head until yesterday.)

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2017, 11:02:36 AM »
Bubbly and Ebullient is not a generalised quality of romance. There are extremely plotty romances around as well, so if your couple is central to at least 50% of the story and has a HEA, I see no reason why this can't be a romance.

Read for example the Adrian English mysteries by Josh Lanyon, The Administration series by Manna Francis or the PsyCop series by Jordan Castillo Price. These are m/m, but can serve as samples of plotty and angsty romance.

Offline Jessie G. Talbot

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2017, 11:25:22 AM »
Maybe Literary might work.


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Offline Lorri Moulton

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2017, 11:49:46 AM »
I like romantic suspense, but not every story with a romantic element is a romance.  A well done, romantic subplot can give any story more interest in my opinion. :)


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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2017, 12:04:31 PM »
Your question concerns me because angsty romance is extremely popular and anyone with a loose understanding of the market would know that. I suggest doing a solid three months of reading a romance a week before you try to pin down your genre and niche. I came into romance from screenwriting and it took me forever to get genre romance even though I was writing romantics dramas and comedies. It's just so different than what I was doing. And that shows in my first three books being really off market. I would have done much better if I'd taken more time to find my niche first. I would have saved a year of writing not commerical stuff.

Offline K.B.

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2017, 12:51:00 PM »
Your question concerns me because angsty romance is extremely popular and anyone with a loose understanding of the market would know that. I suggest doing a solid three months of reading a romance a week before you try to pin down your genre and niche. I came into romance from screenwriting and it took me forever to get genre romance even though I was writing romantics dramas and comedies. It's just so different than what I was doing. And that shows in my first three books being really off market. I would have done much better if I'd taken more time to find my niche first. I would have saved a year of writing not commerical stuff.

So much this, and I don't want for this to come off as an attack of any kind. If you're asking this question, then you're probably not prepared to write romance. Despite the detractors, it's not an easy cash grab. Of all my romance books, only one was really written to market. The others, while romance, don't really fit into the market. Now this was a choice I made for myself but going forward, I'm definitely shifting towards the market.

I find that Romance is the most diverse genre (it literally spans time and bookshelf space), all stories can be can be told through the lens of romance but there are two MAJOR rules; HEA and the main plot focused on the development of the relationship. The characters should be living, breathing people and that means they're going to have baggage, they're going to want things for themselves, that's where the subplots come into play.

Read. Read. Read. Read everyday, learn about how how diverse romance is. But the fact that you think it needs to be bubbly is a clear indicator that you have no idea what the genre is about. That's not a bad thing, but it does mean you need to study the genre before attempting to write it, especially if you're hoping to sell books.

The romance community is amAzing, both readers and authors. They will support you like none other but they're not exactly keen on fakes.

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Offline RBN

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2017, 01:02:06 PM »
I've been reading romance all my life and manage to avoid "bubbly and ebullient" like it has a physically obvious contagious disease. Angst isn't hard to find, and it's not buried in subcategories. Read at least the samples of the top 20 in general contemporary for evidence. The one with the fluffiest cover involved a dead body, which pops the ebullience bubble right off the bat.

https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Contemporary-Romance/zgbs/digital-text/158568011/



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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2017, 01:05:48 PM »
Your question concerns me because angsty romance is extremely popular and anyone with a loose understanding of the market would know that. I suggest doing a solid three months of reading a romance a week before you try to pin down your genre and niche. I came into romance from screenwriting and it took me forever to get genre romance even though I was writing romantics dramas and comedies. It's just so different than what I was doing. And that shows in my first three books being really off market. I would have done much better if I'd taken more time to find my niche first. I would have saved a year of writing not commerical stuff.
Absolutely. You make good points here. It sounds like OP isn't looking to exactly write a romance main plot, but more of a subplot. Still though, understanding romance as a genre will be the best route. I'd say angsty is more YA, but I'm uncertain if that's what you're looking for.

Try more slow burn romance with physical and emotional slowness. Read read read. I can guide you to historical romances but again, doesn't seem to be what you're looking for. I would find the romance category that best matches what you write and start reading from there.

Offline KeraEmory

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2017, 01:15:30 PM »
Tagging out now-many thanks to the folks who were able to respond without piling on, definitely appreciate it. <3

Offline K.B.

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2017, 02:04:38 PM »
Nobody was piling up on you; if you think that's the case, then I don't know what to tell you. You asked a question. People gave advice.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 03:33:22 PM by K.B. »

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Offline LilyBLily

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2017, 02:20:14 PM »
Your question concerns me because angsty romance is extremely popular and anyone with a loose understanding of the market would know that. I suggest doing a solid three months of reading a romance a week before you try to pin down your genre and niche. I came into romance from screenwriting and it took me forever to get genre romance even though I was writing romantics dramas and comedies. It's just so different than what I was doing. And that shows in my first three books being really off market. I would have done much better if I'd taken more time to find my niche first. I would have saved a year of writing not commerical stuff.
Can you point me to a couple of angsty romance authors? I have one out and it has been buried under the ebullient stuff and I don't know what an angsty romance cover looks like, either. Not NA, not romantic suspense, and not steamy. Thanks.

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2017, 02:30:49 PM »
First of all, sorry, I know the process of trying to pin down "Romance" is both complicated and (for some readers) set in stone. I did try to investigate this a bit on my own, but not turning up much.

I'm not a romance reader myself, but the stories I want to tell usually have a central couple/romantic arc. The thing is, they're usually surrounded by a fair amount of plot that is fully separate from the relationship arc*, and a lot of, for lack of a better term, angst.

Like I said, I don't read period-full-stop 'romance' novels, but the few I've tried to click through seem ... pretty bubbly and ebullient. I'm not a bubbly and ebullient person, even though I am a romantic at heart.

So I guess the question I'm asking is ... is there such a category as "angsty romance"? Maybe some other keyword I'm not thinking of? I'm talking about tragic pasts/serious themes/something other than a love triangle keeping the participants apart.

(Dark isn't it, as I assume dark=BDSM and stuff, but let me know if I'm wrong.)

Basically, I randomly spewed out 5000 words of a new novel last night, and (as usual) not sure how it would be marketed.

(*Let me know if this sentence alone indicates that I'm not writing for any kind of Romance market to begin with.)

Sorry, I do know a lot of you guys have gone over this a thousand times. I've read a lot of the resulting threads, I just still get confused by my own writerly impulses.

Paranormal Romance is probably the king of Angst. I'm familiar with several different romance sub-genres both as a reader and as a writer, but so far Paranormal is the one genre in which dark pasts and tortured leads seem to be a rule. If you want some suggestion I would recommend The Black Dagger Brotherhood and the Dark Hunters series, you'll have your pick of psychological problems between those two, ranging from PTSD, victims of rape and child abuse, drug addicts, and all your happy angst galore. At this point I just go into the books with the knowledge that I'm going to end up with my heart out of the freaking body. Healthy stuff.
 

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Offline Allyson J.

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2017, 03:29:52 PM »
I write "gritty" historical romance filled with suicidal characters, rape survivors, violence, ptsd, you name it. I also write happy stuff. I love to read both, and it's nice to have options depending on my mood--sometimes I don't want all the angst, sometimes I want a good cry. As long as your story ends with a HEA/HFN that rings true to the characters, there is a romance market for it.

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Offline elizabethbarone

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2017, 04:12:45 PM »
I write gritty romance. Sometimes I write lighthearted romance. There's definitely room in the genre for all kinds of stories. In fact, like others have pointed out, there are plenty of dark or angsty romance titles doing well. All of my books tend to deal with social issues.

I would strongly suggest that you read lots of romance before writing and publishing one. It's a complex market and readers are not forgiving if you don't know the genre well. That said, when I first started out writing romance, I didn't think of myself as a romance author. I too thought it was all lovey-dovey -- until I started reading a lot of it.

Some romance authors who write on the grittier side or have plots that aren't just about the relationship: Tarryn Fisher, K.L. Grayson, Sarina Bowen, Colleen Hoover... There's also this shelf on Goodreads that works as a good primer: https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/gritty-romance

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Offline Michele_Mills

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2017, 04:52:48 PM »
Your question concerns me because angsty romance is extremely popular and anyone with a loose understanding of the market would know that. I suggest doing a solid three months of reading a romance a week before you try to pin down your genre and niche. I came into romance from screenwriting and it took me forever to get genre romance even though I was writing romantics dramas and comedies. It's just so different than what I was doing. And that shows in my first three books being really off market. I would have done much better if I'd taken more time to find my niche first. I would have saved a year of writing not commerical stuff.
This. "Angsty" is like, romance's middle name. :)

But to OP- I always kinda think if a writer isn't sure if they're writing romance, then maybe they aren't? But, New Adult sounds like a good niche for you to start reading in to see if that's good match for the type of story you're writing.
Good luck!


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Online Crystal_

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2017, 07:09:27 PM »
Can you point me to a couple of angsty romance authors? I have one out and it has been buried under the ebullient stuff and I don't know what an angsty romance cover looks like, either. Not NA, not romantic suspense, and not steamy. Thanks.

I mostly only read NA and I mostly avoid really angsty stuff as I find it only works for me about half the time. How not NA do you want?

My friend Carian Cole does really well with angsty romances. I wouldn't call them NA but she's had NA BookBubs. Staci Hart's A Thousand Letters is supposed to be a great angsty romance. I read her regulary but haven't checked out that one yet. Jessica Hawkins is great but she does a lot of off trope stuff I could never get away with. The First Taste is the most "on the trope" of hers I've read. AL Jackson is really angsty too, but I think she's mostly NA. Sorry. I'm not up on "regular" adult romance.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 07:12:16 PM by Crystal_ »

Offline elizabethbarone

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #22 on: July 13, 2017, 08:30:28 AM »
I mostly only read NA and I mostly avoid really angsty stuff as I find it only works for me about half the time. How not NA do you want?

My friend Carian Cole does really well with angsty romances. I wouldn't call them NA but she's had NA BookBubs. Staci Hart's A Thousand Letters is supposed to be a great angsty romance. I read her regulary but haven't checked out that one yet. Jessica Hawkins is great but she does a lot of off trope stuff I could never get away with. The First Taste is the most "on the trope" of hers I've read. AL Jackson is really angsty too, but I think she's mostly NA. Sorry. I'm not up on "regular" adult romance.

Claire Contreras, too.

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Offline ChristineMerrill

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #23 on: July 17, 2017, 09:55:56 AM »
First, ignore my reallllllllllly green status here.  I used to post, a lot, but can't find my user info and am starting from scratch.

I write mostly Regency historical and call myself a ' deeply emotional read', since angst sounds too Freudian for the Regency.

But there's plenty of it in historicals.  Death, disease, abuse, addiction, rape, incest, tears, more abuse, more tears.
I also write the occasional Regency Romp, because, why not. If I can make the reader laugh and cry in a single book, I consider it a win.

Other than the HEA, the only real rule is: Don't kill a dog.  You can do whatever you want to people, though.

And if the original poster is still lurking:  if the romance is the primary plot, then it's romance. If it's secondary, call it romantic elements (which RWA may or may not be supporting right now.  They keep moving the bar on that). Literary can mean anything.  Women's fiction is more women's problems and less romance. Think aging parents, friendship, marriage, divorce, cancer (and gets a beach chair on the cover).


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Offline elizabethbarone

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2017, 12:51:34 PM »
First, ignore my reallllllllllly green status here.  I used to post, a lot, but can't find my user info and am starting from scratch.

I write mostly Regency historical and call myself a ' deeply emotional read', since angst sounds too Freudian for the Regency.

But there's plenty of it in historicals.  Death, disease, abuse, addiction, rape, incest, tears, more abuse, more tears.
I also write the occasional Regency Romp, because, why not. If I can make the reader laugh and cry in a single book, I consider it a win.

Other than the HEA, the only real rule is: Don't kill a dog.  You can do whatever you want to people, though.

And if the original poster is still lurking:  if the romance is the primary plot, then it's romance. If it's secondary, call it romantic elements (which RWA may or may not be supporting right now.  They keep moving the bar on that). Literary can mean anything.  Women's fiction is more women's problems and less romance. Think aging parents, friendship, marriage, divorce, cancer (and gets a beach chair on the cover).

Also, don't kill the hero or heroine, haha. Unless it's a ghost romance.

*plot bunnies start clamoring*

What I love most about romance is that it and its sub-genres vary widely in "angst" level. You can find very fluffy, lighthearted books or very dark and gritty books, depending on what you're in the mood for.

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Offline BellaJames

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Re: Quick question about the Romance market
« Reply #25 on: July 17, 2017, 01:23:15 PM »
The Contemporary and na romance cats are full of angsty books. They sell big time. If you have limited knowledge of the whole romance genre, I would go and read a few romances and find out more about the genre.

If your book is not focused on the connection and relationship between the main characters and does not have a HEA, then it is probably not a romance.

Here's a few authors who write good angsty romance:

S.C. Stephens
Colleen Hoover
Rebecca Donovan
Jessica Sorensen
Mia Sheridan
Brittany Cherry
K.A. Tucker
Claire Contreras