What Are Romance Readers Looking For?

Dedicated to the memory of Siana who asked me to start writing articles for this newsletter.

October 2008

I attend many conferences, and inevitably, the following questions are raised?

"What are you looking for?" or "What is Hot?"

It is addressed to an agent, or an editor. The answer is always the same as well. They are looking for good, well written, unique stories. They might also mention what is currently "hot", but point out that what is "hot" now may be "cold" by the time a writer writes their story, submits it, and the story goes through the publication process.

Granted, it takes the agents and editors to get your books published, but it is the readers that you need to buy your books. I remember several years ago where we were told that paranormals didn't sell. Readers didn't want them. Um, apparently, those readers who shopped at the store where I worked were unaware of this. Whenever a paranormal came in, they were all swiftly sold.

I decided to ask readers what they were looking for. Of course, imperative with everyone, since we are discussing Romance Genre Fiction, there MUST be an HEA (Happily Ever After), and the development of the hero and heroine's relationship must be the central theme. Also, they should be well written stories with historical accuracy. This includes using proper terminology as well as historical facts.

But all of the above is a given, right? What sub-romance genres do readers want?

Paranormals are Hot, Hot, Hot! Yes, after being told for years that "readers don't like paranormals", paranormals are still very popular. Sure, numbers may have leveled off a bit, but readers still want them.

What kind of paranormals? Well, only your imagination is the limit. Vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, witches, time-travel, outer space, center of the world, alternate reality, etc.

Readers are looking for historicals. I've noticed the trend where a lot of our historical authors, who had moved to contemporary or paranormal, are headed back to the past. I've even seen that some authors who haven't been published in awhile are now having new titles being published, and I'm thrilled.

Is there a certain time period readers want? Well, it seems that we haven't moved into the 20th century. Readers are looking for cowboy western historicals, regency, medieval, etc.

As for myself, I'm really looking for mermaid/mermen stories, where at least one is mer and the other can be human or "other".

I would be interested in learning your opinions of what you want to read. Feel free to e-mail me also with questions or topics you might like to have addressed in future columns. Although I do not make any guarantees, I will take all e-mails into consideration.