Saturday, April 7, 2018

Is the Romance Genre in a Slow Decline? by @KarynGerrard #Opinion #hybrid #publishers


There have been many hints across social media the past several months that there is a shift happening in publishing with regard to the romance genre.
Set aside it is still a large slice of the pie with regard to genre fiction and dig a little deeper. It appears the bigger publishers are ceding romance to self-publishing/indies in many ways. (As far as ebooks are concerned, more so than paperbacks).

A few signs: Publishers are cutting lines and authors, some in mid-series. Think Harlequin and St. Martin's Press (with their SMP digital line) as two examples
I have come across more than one author with a publisher being told "we are not accepting romance at the moment, if you want to stay with us, you will have to switch genres. Write us a mystery. Cozy is preferred." Hell, I've noticed publishers pushing their cozy mysteries more than romance lately.

Some publishers have cut back on promo on romance until it is almost non-existent. They are refusing to budge on requests from authors to price ebooks to compete with indies. In fact, they are pricing some ebooks to ridiculously high levels, especially if there is an accompanying paperback.

There are agents that used to represent romance that don't any longer, instead focusing on historical fiction and women's fiction for example. No money in romance any longer?
One huge selling romance author now writes women's fiction (with romantic elements) Hell, maybe there isn't any $$$ to be had in romance.

*Also a warning*: some agents are insisting on an author throwing in their indie books in the agent-author contract, meaning they will take 15% of your indie royalties. Stay well clear.

Is the writing on the wall?
 Is romance doomed?

The average romance reader is aging. Younger people read less than the generations that came before, and when they do read, its not the same category romances that once were popular.
The ebook market bubble has burst.
Ebooks sales are declining every year.
Depressing?
It can be, depending what you want out of being a published romance author.

Publishing is a business. All the bigger publishers jumped on the romance ebook bandwagon when the money was rolling in.
Times have changed.
And authors will have to change with it
.
Some are. Some authors with the big 5 are going full indie on certain genres like historical. Why? They were offered lousy contract/deals/terms. It will be happening more and more, mark my words. I also believe more lines will close. I still hold with my prediction that Harlequin will be all digital sometime in the future.

But more alarming? The inherent prejudice insidiously running through the genre. And it runs deep.  Also running deep? The sense of entitlement and priviledge. The fact gatekeepers are locking those gates even tighter than before.

Fair warning, a change is in the air.
As far as prejudice, I remain hopeful it will be a change for the better.

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